Education | Qualitative Inquiry in Education
Y611 | 5989 | Dr. Phil Carspecken
This is a very difficult course, requiring a large amount of work and
intensive effort to master some challenging theory. It is labor
intensive, requiring a field project as well as extensive reading.
Students should not take this course unless they are prepared to
devote an unusually large amount of time and effort. The grade of
incomplete will be given only under exceptional circumstances. Thus,
think carefully about whether you truly wish to be in this course or
Y611 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 the end last week of
September you will have to have a field project set-up, summarized in
written form, and all necessary permission granted. By the week of
October 7-11 you must 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
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. Students are encouraged to email
the instructor regularly to get help with questions that will arise
from readings and their project. Class participation and, of course,
attendance, is very important.
By the end of this course students may be able to begin a full-scale
qualitative research project but possibly not. The instructor will
inform each student of his opinion on this matter at the end of the
course. Even for students who do very well in the course, there will
be much yet to learn if a full-scale qualitative research 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.
All assignments must be turned in electronically by emailing attached
files to me at either my hotmail or IU email address.
There will be a formal schedule of assignments, as listed below, and
occasional short essays requested on the readings that are not listed
below but will rather be assigned in class based on my impressions of
your capabilities and needs. Here is a list of the formal assignments
for this course:
A) Field Project Set Up and Ready to Go
Starting near the beginning of October you will have to turn in
assignments based on fieldwork. This means that you should have a
project in mind right now! Get all formal permissions requiredyou're
your fieldwork immediately.
B) You will have to turn in the following during the semester,
1)A description of your study, no later than the week of September
23-27. I strongly advise getting this done before that week.
a.Give a brief description of the site
b.Provide a list of questions you wish answers to through research on
c.Provide a list of what information you will have to collect to get
answers to these questions.
2)Excerpts (3-4 pages each) from two "thick" observations, about one
a.From your first observation, no later than the week of October 7-11.
b.From your second observation, no later than the week of October
3)Meaning field analyses until passed by me, no later than week of
October 21-25 for initial submissions.
4)Validity reconstructions until passed by me, no later than the week
of October 28-November 1 for initial submissions.
5)A role analysis until passed by me, no later than the week of
November 4-8 for initial submissions.
6)A power analysis until passed by me, no later than the week of
November 4-8 for initial submissions.
7)An interactive sequence analysis until passed by me, no later than
the week of November 18-22 for initial submissions. This will include
a.Setting bids and negotiations
d.Use of normative reconstructions, role analysis and power analysis
to provide details on features of the sequence.
e.Identity claims where appropriate
f.Validity claims where appropriate
8)Coding scheme for observational data until passed by me, no later
than the week of November 25-29 for initial submissions.
9)Interview protocol until passed by me, no later than the week of
November 25-29 for initial submissions.
10) Essay comparing three ethnographies, two read in common by all
class members (Davidson and Soto) and one of your own choosing, no
later than the week of December 2-6.
11) Final project narrative, no later than the week of December 9-13.
Notice that I have made assignments due both during Fall Break and
during Thanksgiving Break. We will have no classes during those weeks
but it is necessary for me to require assignments turned in during
them. I will be at home both weeks, marking work, even though these
are officially vacation periods. There is no way we could cover
crucial course material without making those weeks periods in which to
turn in work.
C) Informal assignments on readings and lectures. These will be given
at times during which I judge them to be a "good idea." I will
ascertain how your understanding of the theory is coming along through
your formal assignments but also through class exercises and
discussion. When I think you need a little push at synthesizing
material and thinking it through more deeply, I will assign short
Most of the fieldwork-based assignments will be on a pass/do-over
basis. You turn them in, receive comments from me, and do them over
if I ask you to. Once the work has met my expectations I will give it
a 'grade' ranging from "barely satisfactory" (S-) through excellent
(E): S-, S, S+, G-, G, G+, and E.
The essay and project write-up will be graded in a more traditional
manner. When it is time to determine a final grade for you I will
assess your fieldwork and data-analytic skills as a whole and give
them a grade worth 60% of your final grade. This will include
attention to the informal written assignments I request of you (also
to be graded with the "S-E" system). I will count your essay and
final examination 20% each.
Do not be late with assignments! Work as hard as you must to keep up
with all assignment deadlines. This is important!!
Summary of assignments:
Assignment/Last week it will be accepted
Site description and research questions September 23-27: Week four
Observation 1 October 7-11 Week six
Observation 2 October 14-18: Week seven
Meaning Fields October 21-25: Week eight
Validity Horizons October 28-Nov. 1: Week nine
Role Analysis November 4-8: Week ten
Power Analysis November 4-8: Week ten
Sequence Analysis November 18-22: Week twelve
Coding Scheme November 25-29: Week thirteen
Interview Protocol November 25-29: Week thirteen
Essay comparing three ethnographies December 2-6: Week fourteen
Project write-up December 9-13: Week sixteen
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:
Soto, L. (1997). Language, Culture and Power. Albany: SUNY
Rough Outline of Themes for Class Lectures and Related to Readings
Week One: Situating Qualitative Social Research I.
Week Two: Situating Qualitative Social Research II and Observation
Week Four: Critical Qualitative Research
Week Five: The Internal Relation between Validity and Meaning
Week Six: The Lifeworld and its Analysis I.
Week Seven: The Lifeworld and its Analysis II.
Week Nine: The Lifeworld and its Analysis III.
Week Ten: The Lifeworld and its Analysis IV, Coding
Week Eleven: Synthesis and Applications
Week Twelve: Qualitative Interviewing: methods
Week Fourteen: Systems Analysis
Summary of reading and assignments:
Week Assignment Readings
1 Sept. 3
2 Sept. 10 Site description and research questions (if possible)
*Denzin and Lincoln: 1, 2,
*Carspecken: 1, 2
*Question guides to the D&L chapters sent electronically
3 Sept. 17 NO CLASS, Carspecken in England
4 Sept. 24 Site description and research questions (if you couldn't
get them in during week 2) *Carspecken: 3, 4
*Denzin and Lincoln: 5, 6, 8
5 Oct. 1 *Carspecken: 5
*Calvino: 1, 2, 3 plus reading notes on these chapters sent
6 Oct. 8 Observation 1 *Carspecken: 6
*Calvino: 4, 5, 6 plus reading notes on these chapters sent
7 Oct. 15 Observation 2 *Carspecken: 7
8 Oct. 22 Meaning Fields NO CLASS - FALL BREAK
9 Oct. 29 Validity Horizons *Denzin and Lincoln: 4
*Davidson: first half of book plus reading guide
10 Nov. 5 Role Analysis
Power Analysis *Davidson: second half of book
11 Nov. 12 *Carspecken: 8, 9
12 Nov. 19 Sequence Analysis *Carspecken: 10, 11
*Soto: entire book plus reading guide
13 Nov. 26 Coding Scheme
Interview Protocol NO CLASS - Thanksgiving
14 Dec. 3 Essay comparing three ethnographies *Carspecken: 12, 13
15 Dec. 13 Final project write-up NO CLASS - Final date for project