Education | Advanced Qualitative Research
Y750 | 5555 | Dr. Phil Carspecken

Course Description

This course is for students who have already completed Y611.  All
students in this course must be engaged, or soon become engaged, in an
extensive qualitative research project suitable for a dissertation
and/or a publishable article or monograph.  Course instruction will
involve both commonly pursued objectives and individualized ones.

Commonly pursued objectives will include a review of the basic
principles of critical qualitative research, supplementation of these
basic principles with investigations into critical discourse analysis
and critical theory, an introduction to systems theory, and an
analysis of three ethnographies read by all class participants.  We
will also explore the use of digital video in qualitative research and
one or two software programs designed for qualitative data analysis.

Individualized objectives will also be pursued.  Students will submit
a personal study contract to the instructor early in the course.
Study contracts will consist of agreements to undertake various
projects in the field, in data analysis, and/or in the scholarly
review of literature relevant to one's research project.  Students
must form peer support and debriefing teams early in the course and
lend aid to each other in the pursuit of individualized objectives.

Course Assignments

1. Submission of several debriefing reports on the work of peers.
Details will be provided during the first few weeks of the course but
reports are expected to cover:
a. Findings of an examination of samples from the peer's observational
b. Findings of an examination of samples from the peer's interview
c. Findings of an examination of the peer's coding scheme
d. Assessment of the peer's project report
2. A final project report of 20 to 30 pages with appendices to include
samples of observational data, samples of interview data, and the
entire coding scheme.  Peer debriefing reports conducted on one's own
work by a peer must also be included in the appendices.
3. An essay 4 to 6 pages in length comparing four ethnographies.
Three of these four ethnographies will be read in common by all class
members and discussed in class.  The fourth must be chosen by the
student and should be related to the student's field project.
Criteria for comparison will be passed out during the semester.
4. A final examination aiming at theoretical issues in qualitative
research and social theory.
5. Completion of the individualized study contract.


Assessment for this course will be based on class participation,
completion of the study contract, and the above four assignments.  The
instructor will provide extensive comments to students on their work
and may ask for certain pieces of work to be done over.

Schedule of assignments and classes

Because this is an advanced class with an emphasis on significant
empirical research, students will be continuously consulted for
opinions on appropriate content sequences and activities.  The
leadership in this class is meant to be shared as much as possible.
What follows is an initial, flexible, order of topics to be covered:

I. Review of the basic principles of qualitative research
a. Learning to Labor by Paul Willis: a classic in critical ethnography
b. Hermeneutic-reconstructive analysis, systems analysis, and
associated social-theoretical concepts on validity, meaning, action,
social integration, system integration and power.
c. The distinctive features of critical qualitative research: Four
Scenes for Posing the Question of Meaning, chapters one and two.
d. The concept of self and its relevance to critical qualitative
research.  Four Scenes for Posing the Question of Meaning, chapter
II. Advanced data collection and analysis
a. Digital video
b. Nvivo and/or Atlas.ti software
c. Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) as a qualitative research tool
d. Critical Discourse Analysis by Fairclough: reading, discussing, and
applying the concepts.
e. Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, by Denzin and
Lincoln: selected chapters to be read and related to work with Nviro
and/or Atlas.ti.

III. Critical and Postmodern ethnography
a. We are all Equal, by Levinson: Reading and discussion, plus some
time with the author of this book.
b. Troubling the Angels, by Lather and Smithies: Reading and
c. Perhaps a theoretical interlude here with chapter four of Four
Scenes for Posing the Question of Meaning.
IV. Focus on individualized projects and completing course
a. Class-generated and need-based sessions.
b. Project presentations for collective input, critique, support.
c. Possibly some guest speakers.


Carspecken, P. F.  (1999).  Four Scenes for Posing the Question of
Meaning, and other essays in Critical Philosophy and Critical
Methodology.  New York: Peter Lang.  ISBN 0-8204-3967-3    Paper Back

Denzin, N. F. and Lincoln, Y.S. (eds.) 1998.  Collecting and
Interpreting Qualitative Materials.  Thousand Oaks CA: Sage
Publications.  ISBN  0-7619-1434-X  Paper Back

Fairclough, N.  (1997).  Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical
Study of Language (Language in Social Life).  Addison-Wesley Pub Co;
ISBN: 0582219841  Paper Back

Willis, P.  (1981).  Learning to Labor.  New York: Columbia Univ Pr;
ISBN: 0231053576  Paper Back

Lather, P. and Smithies, C.  (1997).  Troubling the angels: women
living with HIV/AIDS.  Boulder, CO:  Westview Press.  ISBN: 0813390168
Paper Back

Levinson, B.  (2001).  We Are All Equal : Student Culture and Identity
at a Mexican Secondary School 1988-1998.  ISBN: 082232699X  Paper Back