Education | Qualitative Inquiry in Education
Y611 | 5552 | 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 engaging in the analysis
of 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.


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 such as writing reports and discussing methodology

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.

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 as well as securing approval from the human subjects
committee at the University. By January 29, students will begin
getting assignments for the field. 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.

I will ask that you submit field work electronically.  This saves on
paper and facilitates my giving feedback in a timely manner.

Students must have approval from the Committee for the Protection of
Human Subjects if they plan to conduct research with minors, publish
using this research, and/or use this as the start of your dissertation
study. This committee takes applications on Mondays. This week,
students should download the appropriate forms (or pick them up) to be
ready to get them turned in once I approved the research plan.


There will be many readings assigned and the class time will not often
be spent amplifying these readings. It is important for students to
take responsibility for the readings and then ask for help when
difficulties arise. Email can be especially useful when one feels
stuck in the midst of a reading. I would be happy to respond to email
queries about the readings between class sessions and, of course,
questions are always welcome during class time.

I have selected 4 texts that deal explicitly with method - some more
theoretical than others. Three of these texts are required. I have
also included a novel that employs the basic constructs of the conduct
of research. Additionally, 2 ethnographies have been selected.  You
will find a course packet that is primarily constructed of sample
data, analyses, and articles illustrating the methods and theory being
taught. Readings in this packet will be assigned as we move along.

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
Rosaldo, R. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis

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

Tentative Schedule of Classes, Readings and Field-Based Assignments

Date/Class Topics/Readings/Field-Based Assignments
1/15:  Situating Qualitative Research II
D&L 1, 2, 3
Research Plan

1/22:  Critical Qualitative Research
C 1 - 2; D&L 6, 8
Securing entry and consent

1/29:  The Internal Relation - Validity and Meaning
C 3 - 5; D&L 4, 10	
Grand Tour
Collecting Observational Data

2/5:  The Life World and Its Analysis I
Calvino 1 - 3
Excerpts - Thick Description from 2 obs
Meaning Fields, Reconstructive Analysis	C 6, 8

2/12:  The Life World and Its Analysis II
C 7; Calvino 4 - 6
Meaning Fields, Validity Reconstructions
Interactive Sequences and Concepts (including Roles)

2/19:  The Life World and Its Analysis III
C 9; D&L 4; Calvino	
Interactive Sequence Analysis, Role Analysis
Coding, Concepts of Power and related analysis

2/26:  Culture and Truth I
R Intro - 3, C 10	
Coding, Power Analysis
Concepts of Care and related analysis

3/5:  Culture and Truth II			
R 4 -  9		
Analysis of Care
Qualitative Interviewing Methods	I	C 10

3/12:  Spring Break

3/19:  Narrativity: Qualitative Interviewing II	C 11		
Interview Protocol

3/26:  No Class, AERA

4/2:  Post modernism			
Lather, whole text,	
Feminism, Other Deconstructive Movements	
D&L 9, 12, 13

4/9:  Writing it up			
Korth Articles,	Excerpts 2 interviews with reflection	

4/16:  Ethnographic Texts and Interview Studies	Davidson, whole text

4/23:	System, Analyses, and critique		
C 12, 13; D&L 11	
Proposal for examining systemic conditions and effects

4/30:  Final Exam - in lieu of exam: presentation of fieldwork			

Assignments and Assessment

Fieldwork (50%)

The following fieldwork-based assignments will be required. These
assignments are worth 60% of your grade in the course 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 (with the exception, of course, of the

1. Research Plan with Corresponding list of research interests or
2. Grand Tour
3. Excerpts from 2 Thick Observations
4. Sample Meaning Fields
5. Sample Validity Reconstructions
6. Sample Horizon Analysis
7. Role Analysis
8. Power Analysis
9. Interactive Sequence Analysis
10. Care Analysis
11. Interview Protocol
12. Excerpts from 2 interviews with reflection
13. Proposal for examining the system
14. Project Presentation

Paper (30%)

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.

Literature Review: Annotated Bibliography with Reflections (20%)

It will be advantageous for students to examine the qualitative
research literature in their respective fields of interest. This
assignment will facilitate this. Students should review 8 - 10 recent
articles published in their field of interest (or a closely related
tangential field) that report on the findings of qualitative studies
and/or the role of qualitative methodology in the field. Students will
produce an annotated bibliography of these articles that indicates
their grasp of qualitative methodological theory and techniques.
Students will write a reflective essay that examines themes,
strengths, weaknesses, and so on, of the articles as a body of
research knowledge and practice in a particular field.