Provides a background for understanding qualitative inquiry. Focuses on ethnographic inquiry and interpretative cultural analysis. Discusses forms of data collection such as observation, participant observation, and interviewing. Also stresses strategies for data analysis and for handling qualitative data.
The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to qualitative research and its application in various fields, including the humanities and social sciences. Students will learn the philosophic assumptions underlying qualitative research methods, especially as they differ from quantitative methods, and study the process of qualitative inquiry--including the formation of research questions, collection and analysis of data, various methods, (e.g., case studies, ethnography, and action research), verification, and the place of theory and literature in the research process. The course will help students evaluate qualitative research studies and give them some experience in descriptive and interpretative writing. Finally, the course will cover ethical issues related to using qualitative designs. Because qualitative research involves so much descriptive and analytic writing, the course is writing intensive.
Student learning goals
Understand the differences between qualitative and quantitative methods, the strengths and weakness of qualitative research, and the conditions under which qualitative methods should be used.
Identify the key characteristics of conducting a qualitative research study, with an emphasis of adapting method to purpose.
Identify qualitative data collection and analysis procedures and use some of the procedures such as observing, taking field notes, keeping a log and coding data.
Write, recognize, and appreciate effective descriptions within a given qualitative research strategy.
Understand the place of theory, verification, and ethics in qualitative research.
Develop a qualitative study that takes into consideration the above topics.
General method of instruction
The method of instruction is lecture, discussion, fieldwork, and small group discussion. Students will undertake a mini qualitative research experience of their own choice and prepare a proposal (about 10 pages) to conduct a qualitative research project. The project will take into account their learning in the field. Students will keep a log of their fieldwork activities, which will also be graded. One hundred and fifty points will be based on fieldwork assignments (e.g., interviews, observations) and exploration of literature about topic and so forth. The qualitative project will be worth 100 points, and a final presentation (to class or at research setting) will be worth 50, which will include feedback to peers on their projects.
Applied Social Research is suggested.
Class assignments and grading