Education | Qualitative Inquiry in Education
Y611 | 5780 | Dr. Ellen Brantlinger
Graduate standing (admission to a doctoral program), and Y520 or
equivalent. If you do not meet these prerequisites, you must have
instructor approval before you enroll in this course.
Purposes of The Course
The course is designed to: (1) acquaint students with various
qualitative designs and methods; (2) familiarize students with the
debates around qualitative inquiry; (3) address the ethical
dimensions of doing qualitative studies; and, perhaps most
importantly, to (4) provide an opportunity for students to conduct a
small-scale, qualitative study. This is a course in there is much to
read and write. Be sure this is the right time for this commitment!
Norman Denzin & Yvonna Lincoln (2000). The Landscape of Qualitative
Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sharan B. Merriam (1998). Qualitative Research and Case Study
Applications in Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Reading packet (From Collegiate Printers):
Barone, Tom (1989). Ways of being at risk: The case of Billy Charles
Barnett. Phi Delta Kappan, 71(2), 147-151.
Benjamin, Shereen (2001). Challenging masculinities: Disability and
achievement in testing times. Gender and Education, 13 (1), 39-55.
Brantlinger, E. A. (1999). Inward gaze and activism as moral next
steps in inquiry. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 30 (4), 413-
Brantlinger, E. (1996). Influence of preservice teachers’ beliefs
about pupil achievement on attitudes toward inclusion. Teacher
Education and Special Education, 19(1), 17-33.
Brantlinger, E. (1993). Adolescents’ interpretation of social class
influences on schooling. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 28(1), 1-
Brantlinger, E., Majd-Jabbari, M., & Guskin, S. L. (1996). Self-
interest and liberal educational discourse: How ideology works for
middle-class mothers. American Educational Research Journal, 33(3),
Danforth, S. (1999). Pragmatism and the scientific validation of
professional practices in American special education. Disability and
Society, 14(6), 733-751.
Finders, M. J. (1996). Queens and teen zines: Early adolescent
females reading their way toward adulthood. Anthropology and
Education Quarterly, 27(1), 71-89.
Flinders, D. J. (1989). Professional life in schools. In D. J.
Flinders. Voices from the classroom: educational practice can inform
policy. University of Oregon: ERIC.
Fravel, D. L. (1992). An in-depth interview with the parents of
missing children. In j. F. Gilgun, K. Daly, & G. Handel (Eds.).
Qualitative methods in family research. Newbury Park: Sage.
Fravel, D. L., McRoy, R.G., & Grotevant, H.D. (2000). Birthmother
perceptions of the psychologically present child: Adoption openness
and boundary. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied
Family Studies, 49 (4), 425-433.
Gerstl-Pepin, C.I., & Gunzenhauser, M. G. (2002). Collaborative team
ethnography and the paradoxes of interpretation. Qualitative Studies
in Education, 15 (2), 137-154.
Harry, B. (1998). “He can’t really play”: An ethnographic study of
sibling acceptance and interaction. Journal for the Association of
Persons with Severe Handicaps, 23 (4), 289-299.
Hinchman, K. A., & Oyler, C. (2000). Us and them: finding irony in
our teaching methods. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 32 (4), 495-508.
Jimenez, R. T., & Gersten, R. (1999). Lessons and dilemmas derived
from the literacy instruction of two Latina/o teachers. American
Educational Research Journal, 36 (20), 265-301.
Mamlin, Nancy (1999). Despite best intentions: When inclusion fails.
The Journal of Special Education, 33 (1), 36-49.
MacNeil, Cheryl (2001). The prose and cons of poetic representation
in evaluation reporting. American Journal of Evaluation, 21 (3), 359-
Page, Reba (1997). Teaching about validity (and comments).
International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 10 (2),145-
Peshkin, A. (2000). The nature of interpretation in qualitative
research. Educational Researcher, 29(9), 5-9.
Wilson, Tim (1999). You know I’m triracial, right? Multiracial
student identity development and the college experience. In Kathleen
Manning (Ed.), Giving voice to critical campus issues: Qualitative
research in student affairs. Lanham, MD: University Press of America/
Zou, Yali (2002). Multiple identities of a Chinese immigrant: A story
of adaptation and empowerment. Qualitative Studies in Education, 15
Reading and Topic Schedule
First, I recommend that you take some time to read (skim) both books
from cover to cover. The collection of chapters in Denzin and Lincoln
provides a good overview of the history of qualitative research, its
philosophical and theoretical grounding, its contrasts and
similarities to quantitative research, and its continuing issues and
dilemmas. The Merriam book provides similar discussions but is more
practically-oriented for planning how to do qualitative research, and
especially your project for this course. We will discuss specific
chapters (and articles) on these dates:
January 13 Class overview
January 27 Research Questions and Proposals.
Danforth (1999); Merriam: Part 1 (Ch. 1-4); Denzin/Lincoln Ch. 1-3, 7
February 3 Data Collection: Interviews
Brantlinger (1993); Fravel (1992); Fravel 2000
February 10 Autobiography; Biography; Epistemology; Observations &
Wilson, 1999; Zou (2002); Merriam (Ch. 5, 7); Mamlin (1999)
February 17 Data Collection: Content Analysis, Document Analysis
Brantlinger (preservice tchrs.) (1996); Merriam (Ch. 6)
February 24 Competing Paradigms
Denzin (Ch. 6); Flinders (1989); Jimenez (1999); MacNeil (2000)
March 3 Theoretical Positioning
Denzin (Ch. 4, 9, 10); Benjamin, 2001; Finders (1996); Peshkin (2000)
March 10 Purpose of Research (Brantlinger, 1999); Analysis, Data
Reduction, Writing (Merriam 8, 9, 11) Credibility and
Authenicating Measures (Merriam, Ch. 10)
March 24 Voice, Perspective, Positionality
Hinchman & Oyler (2000); Barone (1989)
March 31 Collaborative Research; Action Research
Harry (1998); Gerstl-Pepin & Gunzenhauser (2002)
April 7 Relationships With Participants
Page collection (1997); Denzin (5, 11)
April 14 Studying Elites, Politics and Ethics; Postmodernism
Denzin (Ch. 8, 12, 13); Brantlinger, et al. (1996)
April 21 No class: AERA
April 28 Research Reports
May 5 Research Reports
Field study: (60% of final grade)
The primary assignment for the course is to conduct a modest field
study (estimated time “in the field” of about 40 hours) based on
either verbal data (interviewing), visual data (observing, content
analysis), or some combination of the two. In preparing your study,
you should locate and analyze several relevant empirical and/or
conceptual studies of the issue(s), concept(s), and/or group(s) that
are related to the main focus of your potential study. This does not
need to be a formal “literature review,” but in conceptualizing and
developing your study, you should have examined several similar
studies for ideas of methods, procedures, issues, and concepts. (One
good approach is to go to recent qualitative dissertations done by
graduate students in your department. Another is to browse through
recent articles in journals published in your field.)
In conducting your field study there are three deadlines necessary to
be met for this course:
1. Written proposal for your study. A typed 2 page statement in which
you (a) clearly indicate the question, topic, or social situation
which you will study; (b)discuss what you think are appropriate ways
to generate data (e.g., through observation, interviews, use of
existing data); and (c) explain how you expect to obtain access to a
particular site or to participants for your study. (Due Jan. 27).
Because the nature of qualitative studies tends to evolve as one is
emerged in the field or engaged with participants, this proposal is
not “set in stone” in terms of your final product, but it should be a
solid starting point. [This is a good time to make an appointment
with me to discuss your plans or to have me review a draft of the
prologue (proposal).] Do not plan to get permission to study in
schools unless you already have access. It will take too long to get
permission and get human subjects approval.
2. Oral report of you study in class. In the last weeks of the course
(April 28, May 5), all course members will present the preliminary
findings of the studies. Time allowed will be no more than 10 minutes
(10-15 minutes is the typical length of AERA presentations). Five
minutes of your time slot should be designated for peer feedback.
This information should be valuable for you to make changes for your
final written report.
3. Written report of field study. The final “product” of your field
study is a 12-20 page report that integrates the brief literature
review of related research, summary of methods used, analyzed
descriptive data from your study, credibility measures, and a
conclusion that draws directly from the collected data (due May 7–
early submissions appreciated!). Other pertinent information might
include the limitations of your study, its implications for practice,
how your results confirm or modify the results of other studies, and
what might be some directions for further research. In addition to
the paper, a 2 page “reflection” paper on your study should accompany
your final report. In this paper you might discuss problems that you
encountered in the field, how you might do the study differently if
you were to start again, how your own study compares to the peers in
your class, or an ethical issue you encountered in doing your
research. This paper is likely to be informed by the in-class
debriefing after your report.
Responses to Course Readings (10% of the grade, total 30%)
Select any three of the assigned packet readings or Denzin chapters
(or any combination of the readings) and write a 4-5 page response or
reflection paper. Papers to be submitted on Jamuary 27, February 24,
Questions on Weekly Readings (part of attendance and participation)
Submit a few questions and/or comments derived from the readings or
class discussions by email (BRANTLIN) by before class. We can draw
from these for class discussion. It is a way for me to get to know
class members and understand confusions and concerns. It is also a
way for those less talkative class members to “participate.”
Class Participation (10% of final grade)
Come prepared to discuss key issues and concepts introduced in the
readings assigned for the week. It is important that we (mostly)
focus on the studies we read and/or the overviews of “doing