Education | Qualitative Inquiry in Education
Y611 | 5842 | Dr. Phillip Carspecken
This is a very difficult course, requiring a large amount of work and
intensive effort to master some challenging theory. Students should
not take this course unless they are prepared to devote an unusually
large amount of time and effort. The course has two main objectives:
For students to become familiar with basic field and analytic methods
in qualitative research
For students to learn basic principles of social theory necessary for
a sound understanding of qualitative field methods and, especially,
All students will have to conduct a small-scale field project to meet
course requirements. You should take immediate steps to put a project
into place and get permission to conduct it. By October 2nd you will
have to have the beginnings of a set of observational notes on human
interactions so that you will be able to practice analytic techniques
on your own data. The field project will be time consuming. You will
need a tape recorder and a word processor for your project.
There will be many readings assigned and class lectures will not use
up too much time amplifying these readings. Students are expected to
take responsibility for the readings and to ask for help if they have
difficulty understanding any of them. Class lectures will be most
closely associated with my book on critical ethnography from which
readings will be assigned regularly.
By the end of this course students should be able to begin a
full-scale qualitative research project but there will be much yet to
learn if such a project is to be done well. Students who wish to
produce a qualitative dissertation will have to take the initiative to
read many ethnographies on their own and also read various works on
qualitative method and theory not covered in this course.
Assignments and Assessment
I. Fieldwork based assignments (40%):
A) Field Project Set Up and Ready to Go
Starting approximately October 2nd you will have to turn in
assignments based on fieldwork. This means that you should have a
project in mind and have Human Subjects approval.
B) You will have to turn in the following during the semester, on days
that will be specified by me several weeks in advance:
1) Grand Tour report on your social site plus a list of research
questions and a corresponding list of what data you would have to
collect to answer these questions, exemplified in chapter one of my
book on critical ethnography
2) Excerpts (3-4 pages each) from two "thick" observations
3) Meaning field analyses until passed by me
4) Validity reconstructions until passed by me
5) Horizon analyses until passed by me
6) A role analysis
7) A power analysis
8) Analysis of one interactive sequence including attention to:
-- tacit pragmatic negotiations
-- tacit setting shifts
-- interactive rhythm analysis
-- interactive sequence typology
9) Coding scheme for observational data
10) Interview protocol
11) Partial transcript (3-4 pages) of one of two required
12) Interview coding scheme with brief analysis
13) A brief analysis of setting constraints
14) Final project narrative (page length and contents will be made
clear during course lectures)
II. Assessment based on readings and course lectures:
A) An essay comparing and contrasting four ethnographies: Soto,
Davidson, Losey, and an ethnography of your choosing. Length and
guides for content will be given in class lectures. (30%)
B) Final essay examination. (30%)
Carspecken, P. (1996). Critical Ethnography in Educational Research.
New York and London: Routledge.
Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (1998). The Landscape of Qualitative
Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Calvino, I. (1983). Mr. Palomar. San Diego: Harvest Book, Harcourt
Brace & Co.
Davidson, A. (1996). Making and Molding Identity in Schools. Albany:
Losey, K. (1997). Listen to the Silences. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex
Soto, L. (1997). Language, Culture and Power. Albany: SUNY
Course Packet from TIS College Book Store.
Planned classes and assignments
August 28th: Situating Qualitative Social Research I.
September 4th: No class, Carspecken at Oxford conference
September 11th: Situating Qualitative Social Research II and
*Denzin and Lincoln: 1, 2, 3, 6,
*Question guides to these chapters in the packet.
September 18th: Critical Qualitative Research
*Denzin and Lincoln: 8
*Carspecken: 1, 2, 3
*Examples of thick observational notes in course packet
September 25th: The Internal Relation between Validity and Meaning
*Carspecken: 4, 5
*Denzin and Lincoln: 5
October 2nd: The Lifeworld and its Analysis I.
*Calvino: 1, 2, 3 plus reading notes on these chapters in
October 9th: The Lifeworld and its Analysis II.
*Calvino: 4, 5, 6 plus reading notes on these chapters in
October 16th: The Lifeworld and its Analysis III.
*Denzin and Lincoln: 7, 9
October 23rd: The Lifeworld and its Analysis IV, Coding
*Carspecken: 8, 9
*Denzin and Lincoln 10, 11
*Examples of coding for observational notes in course packet
October 30th: Synthesis and Applications
*Davidson: entire book plus reading guide for this book in
November 6th: Qualitative Interviewing: methods
*Carspecken: 10, 11
*Sample interviews in course packet
November 13th: Qualitative Interviewing: analysis
*Sample interview coding and analysis in course packet
November 20th: Synthesis and Applications
*Soto: entire book plus reading guide for this book in packet
November 27th: Writing the Research Report
*Losey: entire book
December 4th: Summary and Synthesis; preparation for final
December 11th: Final Examination