Education | Qualitative Inquiry in Education
Y611 | 6248 | Dr. Barbara Korth

Course Description

This course is an exciting, albeit difficult, entre into the social
theoretical and practical field of qualitative research. The course
is labor-intensive and intellectually demanding as it will take
students out into the field in the conduct of qualitative research
and it will engage them in basic principles of social theory entailed
in understanding qualitative field methods and analyzing qualitative
data. Many will find the challenge of this course to be stimulating
and valuable. This is most likely to be one’s experience if, at the
outset, one is prepared to devote an unusually large amount of time
and effort, is ready to conduct a study (already has a study in mind
and can begin securing human subjects’ approval right away), and is
open to the intellectual and creative rigors required. You will find
that I support your efforts by providing elaborate and timely
feedback on your fieldwork. We will work together as a class to
develop an understanding of the concepts and methods taught, so while
the expectations may sound daunting, you will be supported in many
ways throughout the semester.


There are three overall goals for students enrolled in the course.
Each of these has related sub-goals. I intend for students to:

(1) Become familiar with basic field data collection methods and
analytic methods of qualitative research
(2) Learn basic principles of social theory necessary for
understanding qualitative research
(3) Develop skills associated with the discourse of qualitative
research and qualitative methodological theory

By the end of the course students should be ready to begin a full-
scale qualitative study, but I would be surprised if this one
semester course proves sufficient for carrying out the entirety of
such a project. The course should begin one’s process of learning and
lay the basic groundwork for a student’s continued learning. Students
who wish to conduct qualitative dissertation studies will be provided
with support readings and so on meant to extend beyond the boundaries
of the course. Such students will also want to continue reading
ethnographies and other qualitative studies in addition to readings
in methodological theory as well as take more advanced courses.

Field Project

All students are expected to conduct a small-scale field project to
meet course requirements. Students will need to take immediate steps
to put a project into place and get permission to do the research.
This will involve gaining access to the site and participants
involved in the study. Unless you are already involved in a study
which has secured approval from the Committee for the Protection of
Human Subjects, I would like you to refrain from projects which would
require approval from that committee. That means that you should not
conduct studies that (a) you plan to publish or (b) involve minors as
subjects. The field project will be time consuming. You will need a
tape recorder and a word processor. It will be helpful to have a
transcriber: Any student who plans to conduct an extensive amount of
qualitative research, for example in the conduct of dissertation
research, would benefit from investing in a transcriber at this stage
in the process. Also, it might be possible to share transcribers with
friends. Transcribers and tape recorders can be checked out from the
School of Education.

I will ask that you submit field work electronically.  This saves on
paper and facilitates my giving feedback in a timely manner. We will
use ONCOURSE for this purpose.


There will be many readings assigned and the class time will not
often be spent amplifying these readings. Please ask me for help if
you encounter difficulties in your work with the texts. Email can be
especially useful if you feel stuck in the midst of a reading. I am
happy to respond to email queries about the readings between class
sessions and, of course, questions are always welcome during class

I have selected 2 texts that deal explicitly with method. I have also
included a novel that employs the basic constructs of the conduct of
research. Additionally, 2 ethnographies have been selected.  I put
together a book of readings which contain some samples of fieldwork
and analysis that you will be learning and provides some theoretical
explanations to support your other readings.

These are the required texts:

Carspecken, P. Critical ethnography in Educational Research: A
theoretical and Practical Guide
Denzin, K and Lincoln, Y. The Landscape of Qualitative Research:
Theories and Issues

Calvino, I. Mr. Palomar

Davidson, A. Making and Molding Identity in Schools: Student
Narrative on Race, Gender, and Academic Engagement
Lather, P. and Smithies, C. Troubling the Angels

Booklet of readings

Tentative Schedule of Classes, Readings and Field-Based Assignments

Date	Class Topics			Readings		Field-
Based Assignments Due			Papers
9/10	Situating Qualitative Research II		D&L 1, 2, 4
		Research Plan & consent forms
9/17	Critical Qualitative Research		C 1 – 2; D&L 5, 10
	Securing entry and consent
9/24	The Internal Relation – Validity and Meaning	C 3 – 5; D&L
6, 7	
10/01	Collecting Observational Data
10/08	The Life World and Its Analysis I		Calvino 1 – 3
	Excerpts - Thick Description from obs
	Meaning Fields, Reconstructive Analysis	C 6, 8
10/15	The Life World and Its Analysis II	C 7; Calvino 4 – 6
	Meaning Fields, Validity Reconstructions
	Interactive Sequences and Concepts (including Roles)
10/22	The Life World and Its Analysis III	C 9; D&L 11; Calvino
	Interactive Sequence Analysis, Role Analysis
	Concepts of Power and related analysis
	Concepts of Care and related analysis	C 10		
10/29	Qualitative Interviewing Methods I		
	Analysis of Care, Analysis of Power
11/05	Narrativity: Qualitative Interviewing II	C 11	
	Interview Protocol				1st Draft
Concept Paper
11/12	Coding, Domain Analysis, Content Analysis
11/19	Post modernism and Feminism		D&L 8, 9, 12
	Excerpt from interview with reflection
	Ethnomethodology, Discourse Analysis
11/26	Use of computer software/Schedule 	D&L 13		
					Final Draft Concept Paper
	Individ. Mtgs. With me
12/03	System Analyses, and critique		C 12, 13	
	Coding from interview
12/10	Ethnographic texts			Lather & Davidson
						Methodological Paper
					D&L 14
Assignments and Assessment

Fieldwork (65%)

The following fieldwork-based assignments are required. These
assignments are worth 65% of your grade in the course and will be
turned in throughout the semester. The ultimate purpose of the
fieldwork assignments is to help you both synthesize the
methodological theory involved in the conduct of qualitative research
and develop field skills (both in terms of data collection and data
analysis). Therefore, I conceive of this part of the evaluation as
criteria-based and will ask that you continue to submit work until I
say that it meets final expectations. If, for some reason you cannot
do this, then I will assign a mark to the work that indicates its
achievement in terms of the extent to which it reflects understanding
of methodological theory and the extent to which it indicates a high
level of field skills. These are the assignments (you will also find
them listed above in the course schedule with recommended dates for
initial submission). I would like you to submit these fieldwork
assignments electronically.

1.Research Plan with Corresponding list of research interests or
questions and consent forms

2.Excerpts from 2 Thick Observations

3.Sample Meaning Fields

4.Sample Validity Reconstructions/horizon analysis

5.Role Analysis

6.Power Analysis

7.Interactive Sequence Analysis

8.Care Analysis


10.Interview Protocol

11.Excerpts from 1 interview with reflection

12.Sample of peer debriefing

Methodological Concept Paper (20%) Final paper is due November 26,
First draft is due November 5

Students will write a brief paper (approximately 8 - 10 pages) that
links your fieldwork with one of the conceptual threads of
methodological theory as studied through the semester. This paper
might focus on “role” as substantive and analytic category, for
example. The paper might focus on the positionality of the
qualitative researcher with respect to those participating in the
study, the data, or validity (including ideas about how the
positionality of the researcher is entailed in various validity
techniques).  Students should begin developing their ability to write
and construct theoretical concepts right away. It is suggested that
once you locate a concept you want to explore, you start dialoguing
with me via email so that your thinking and writing regarding the
idea can develop. I want to discourage you from deciding at the end
of the semester what to write on so that the first time you begin the
process of writing and reflecting is the time you are preparing to
turn in the paper. This approach would not provide you with an
opportunity to really develop your ideas in dialogue with me and with
classmates. Some examples of methodological concepts which might
prove interesting to you are the following:









Ethnography Reflection Paper (15%) Due December 10

Write a brief paper (approximately 8 – 10 pages) reflecting on the
two ethnographies required in this course. The reflection should be
methodological in focus and should use core constructs discussed
throughout the semester.  Be prepared to share this in class on the