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Yob and Brewer (n.d.) study purpose is “to discover how members of an online university understand and practice the mission to provide a baseline of understandings for curriculum planning and mentoring student research projects and service activities” (p. 2). Although this sentence includes the central idea of the research, it does not have the fundamental requirements of a qualitative research purpose statement. Creswell (2009) mentioned that “a good qualitative purpose statement contains information about the central phenomenon explored in the study, the participants in the study, and the research site” (p.112). Furthermore, the researcher recommends stating a general definition in the purpose of the study which is inexistent in this case.

Research question

This study does not have a clear research question. Instead, the researchers introduce their research approach by mentioning that “through a series of interviews conducted with faculty members, students, and alumni, several themes were identified” (Yob and Brewer, n.d., p.2) as participants.

Site Selection

In contrast to the purpose of the study and research question, the authors clearly identify the site of their research. Yob and Brewer (n.d.) mentioned that “the site selected for the project is a comprehensive, regionally accredited, a for-profit institution originally founded in 1970 as a distance learning institution” (p. 9). Furthermore, the authors provide some additional details on their site as far as the number of students and the vulgarization of the positive social change within the institution.

Type of purposeful sampling

Yob and Brewer (n.d.) research sample includes faculty members, students, and alumni of the University chosen as the site of the study. These individuals have experience and knowledge of positive social change, and they work and study in the same environment (Ravitch and Carl, 2016). This purposeful sampling falls in the instrumental-use multiple-case sampling. Patton (2015) explained this option as a selection of “multiple cases of a phenomenon for the purpose of generating generalizable findings that can be used to inform changes in practices, programs, and policies” (p. 134). Further, Yob and Brewer’s sampling fulfills the option 29, systematic qualitative evaluation reviews (Patton, 2015).

Alternative Data Collection

An alternative data collection could have been used by the researchers for this study. In fact, positive social change is a concept that applies in a similar manner to faculty members, students, and alumni. As such, this topic of interest can be different from one person to another depending on many factors that do not necessarily include the sample status in the university. Therefore, a single significant case would have been appropriate for this study with the purposeful sampling strategy number five: Teaching case.

Data saturation definition

According to Ravitch and Carl (2016), “data saturation refers to the point at which you are no longer finding new themes in your data” (p. 265). The lack of clarity of the research question in Yob and Brewer (n.d.) article does not help to evaluate their work regarding their achievement of data saturation. However, the researchers’ deep analysis of the data collected during different interviews present some recurring patterns, showing that the point of data saturation was closed to be reached. As a result, the researchers use the term “most participants” and “the vast majority of respondents” several times in their data analysis.


Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Patton, M, Q. (2015). Purposeful sampling and case study selection: overview of strategies and options. Qualitative research and evaluation methods, 4, 264-315. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical,

             and methodological. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Yob, I., & Brewer, P. (n.d.). Working toward the common good: an online university’s perspectives on social change, 1-25.

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