This version of the syllabus is correct as of August 9, 2017. Please note that it may be modified.

S504: INTRODUCTION TO QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

INSTRUCTOR:                         Liz Dawes Duraisingh

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TEACHING FELLOWS:            Dara Fisher

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                                   Megan Powell Cuzzolino

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CLASS MEETING TIMES:               Wednesday 1-4 pm

Fall Semester

 

OFFICE HOURS:                      By appointment

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COURSE GOALS

This course is an introductory methods course designed for incoming Ph.D. students. Other doctoral-level students may also take the course with the permission of the instructor.

Students who take the course will:

  • Gain a sense of the terrain of qualitative research, including some of the different tools and approaches available to researchers and ways in which qualitative research can complement quantitative research.
  • Begin to develop an understanding of the overall process of conducting a qualitative research study, including the ways in which the different aspects of the process “hang together”.
  • Start to develop qualitative research skills related to designing a study, collecting and analyzing data, making appropriate claims about findings, positioning their work relative to existing literature, and appraising others’ qualitative research.
  • Begin to think about their own identities and ethical responsibilities as educational researchers, and develop skills for further and ongoing reflection about their work and their relationship to it.

The assigned readings will include scholarship on the practice and philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research, varied examples of published qualitative research, and raw data. Whole class sessions will generally follow a workshop format with discussions and activities related to the weekly theme(s). Students will also regularly break out into smaller learning communities with their assigned teaching fellow. Students will get a feel for qualitative research by developing a research proposal on a topic of their choosing. These proposals will be informed by preliminary data collection and analysis, which will be supported in class. Students will produce a series of reflective memos on the research process over the course of the semester and write up and present their proposal to the class. The class is designed to promote collaborative learning: students are expected to offer one another constructive feedback as they advance their thinking together.

ASSESSMENT

Assessment should be viewed as an integral part of the learning experience and there will be opportunities for ongoing, informal feedback during the course. Students will be given constructive feedback on their assignments to further their understanding of qualitative research and to develop their research ideas. Please consult the document S504 Assignments 2017 for assignment details and assessment criteria.

Students may take the class for a grade or pass/fail. Formal assessment will be weighted as follows:

  • Participation in class discussions and activities (20%)

Students will be expected to have completed any assigned readings and tasks ahead of each session and to participate fully in class discussions and group activities. Within their smaller learning communities, they will be expected to give thoughtful, considered feedback to other students. Students are expected to attend all classes. If they are unable to attend a session they should inform the instructor and their assigned teaching fellow at their earliest convenience.

  • Warm-up assignment: first memo (5%)

Due Friday, September 15 at 10pm via the appropriate Canvas Dropbox

 

This first assignment will not be formally graded but will allow students to practice memo writing and explore their research interests. Students will receive written feedback from their teaching fellow.

  • Assignment 1: Exploring different qualitative research techniques: first portfolio of memos (25%)

Due Friday, October 20 at 10pm via the appropriate Canvas Dropbox

 

Students will submit memos 2, 3, and 4. Students should upload the portfolio as a single Word document if possible. Assignment details and criteria can be found in the S504 Assignments 2017 document.

  • Assignment 2: Developing a research focus: second portfolio of memos (25%)

Due Friday, November 17 at 10pm via the appropriate Canvas Dropbox

 

Students will submit memos 5, 6, and 7. Students should upload the portfolio as a single Word document if possible.

  • Final class presentation (5%)

Wednesday, November 29 in class

Students will present their ideas for their final research proposal to the class. They will receive feedback and suggestions both from the teaching team and other students. However, they will not receive a formal grade for their presentation.

  • Assignment 3: Final research proposal (20%) 

Due Friday, December 15 at 10pm

 

The final product of this class will be a detailed research proposal, as outlined in the S504 Assignments 2017 document. A rubric is also provided.

 

WEEKLY SEQUENCE OF TOPICS, READINGS, AND ACTIVITIES

 

Readings in the designated iPa© are located on the course website under the iPa© tab.   On-line resources are hyperlinked within this syllabus.

We do not have a required text for this course. However, those of you who anticipate using qualitative research methods in the future may want to invest in a copy of the following slim but invaluable guide:

Maxwell, J. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Please note that in addition to completing assigned readings ahead of each class, you will have a post-class activity - usually a memo - that you should bring with you to the following class. These memos will eventually be submitted for assignments 1 and 2 and they will directly feed into your final assignment. For handy reference, a summary of the memo-writing/activity schedule is included at the end of the companion S504 Assignments 2017 document.

WEEK 1: September 6

What is qualitative research? How does it relate to quantitative research?

We will begin the course by asking fundamental questions about the nature of qualitative research, including the ways in which qualitative research approaches compare to quantitative ones. We will consider the varied and evolving landscape of qualitative research traditions and their place within the field of educational research. We will discuss the purpose and value of writing memos in qualitative research.

 

Pre-class activity:

SURVEY: Complete the on-line survey concerning your learning preferences and research interests. You will receive the survey link via email. Submit by Friday, September 1.

 

Required reading:

Willig, C. (2008). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. Chapter 1: From recipes to adventures (pp.1-14). iPa©

Note: Depending on your training you may find this piece provocative!

 

Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S.K. (1998). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Allyn and Bacon: Needham Heights, MA.

Chapter 1: Foundations of qualitative research in education: An introduction (pp.1-7 and 32-48). iPa©

Note: We have given you the whole chapter for your interest but you only need to read the specified pages for class.

 

Kling, J.R; Liebman, J.B. & Katz, L.F (2004). Bullets don’t got no name: Consequences of fear in the ghetto. In Discovering successful pathways in children's development: Mixed methods in the study of childhood and family life. Edited by Thomas S. Weisner. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (pp.243-282).

 

In addition, please explore this excellent website created by HGSE doctoral students Aubry Threlkeld and Paul Kuttner in 2010: Q: Foundations of qualitative research in education.

http://qualitative.gse.harvard.edu/welcome-q. You will find it to be a useful resource throughout the course and beyond.

Further reading:

Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y.S. (2011). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In M. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.) The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications Inc. (pp. 1-10). iPa©

 

Post-class activity:

MEMO 1: Exploring your research topic. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

WEEK 2: September 13

The overall process of research design; researcher identity and reflexivity in qualitative research

This week we will look at the overall process of designing a research study, examining models developed by Maxwell and Luttrell. We will start to consider how the different aspects of qualitative research “hang together”. We will also discuss the importance of researcher identity in qualitative research—both in terms of coming to a research focus and in being transparent about how we are approaching and thinking about our research. Students will meet for part of the session in their small learning communities.

 

Required reading:

Maxwell, J. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chapter 1: A model for qualitative research design (pp.1-14). iPa©

 

Luttrell, W. (Ed.) (2010). Qualitative educational research: Readings in reflexive methodology and transformative practice. New York: Routledge

Chapter 11: Interactive and reflexive models of qualitative research design (pp. 159-163). iPa©

 

Lodico, M.G., Spaulding, D.T., & Voegtle, K.H. (2010). Methods in educational research: From theory to practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass 2nd Edition.

Extract from Chapter 10: Selecting research participants (pp.139-146). iPa©

 

Villenas, S. (1996). The colonizer/colonized Chicana ethnographer: Identity, marginalization, and co-optation in the field. Harvard Educational Review 66 (4), 711-732.  

 

Post-class activity:

RESEARCH LIST: Identify literature that could inform your research proposal. Make a list of at least eight items. Bring this list to the next class.

Reminder: Warm-up assignment due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday, September 15 at 10pm.

 

 

 

 

WEEK 3: September 20

Interviewing

This week we will dip our toes into the water of data collection by trying out interviewing—one of the most common qualitative research strategies. We will talk about techniques that promote effective and sensitive interviewing practices and start to prepare a protocol.

 

Required reading:

Seidman, I. (2006). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. Third edition. New York: Teachers College Press.

Chapter 6: Technique isn’t everything, but it is a lot (pp.78-94).

 

Rubin, H. & Rubin, I. (2005). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chapter 2: Why we do what we do: Philosophy of qualitative interviewing (pp.19-38). iPa©

 

Clark-Ibáñez, M. (2004). Framing the social world with photo-elicitation interviews. American Behavioral Scientist. 47 (12), 1507-1527.

 

Further reading:

Seidman, I. (2006). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. Third edition. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

Chapter 7: Interviewing as a relationship (pp.95-111) 

In fact, the Seidman book is worth browsing through in its entirety for sound advice on the interviewing process.

 

Here is an example of an interview-based research report written up with clear actionable items and policy implications.

Kadlec, A. & Friedman, W. (2010). Changing the conversation about productivity: Strategies for engaging faculty and institutional leaders. A report by Public Agenda for the Lumina Foundation’s Higher Education Productivity Initiative.

Public Agenda is a non-profit organization. The report is available at: http://www.publicagenda.org/pages/changing-conversation-college-productivity

 

Post-class activity:

RESEARCH: Conduct an interview related to your research focus. Be sure to record it. Shortly after the interview write up some field notes related to the interview. Complete a transcript.

 

 

WEEK 4: September 27

Coding strategies; grounded theory

How does one start to analyze collected data? How does data analysis fit into the overall process of conducting qualitative research? This week we will be considering various strategies for analyzing interview transcripts. In particular, we will try out a grounded theory approach to coding that incorporates a constructivist stance (as described in the Charmaz readings). We will also discuss the affordances and limitations of using software to code data.

 

Required reading:

Rubin, H. & Rubin, I. (2005). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chapter 10: The first phase of analysis: Preparing transcripts and coding data (pp.201-223). iPa©

 

Charmaz, K. (2000). Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of qualitative research.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (pp. 509-536). iPa©

 

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chapter 3: Coding in grounded theory practice (pp. 42-71). iPa©

 

Post-class activity:

MEMO 2: Exploring what you learned from your interview and initial coding. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

WEEK 5: October 4

Research as observation: ethnographic techniques

This week we will discuss research that follows an ethnographic tradition—that is, studies which examine “culture” through close observation of people in particular contexts. Students will support one another in their small learning communities as they hone their research focus and prepare to conduct an observation.

 

Required reading:

Bestor, T. C. (2003). “Inquisitive Observation: Following Networks in Urban Fieldwork .” Doing Fieldwork in Japan, edited by T.C. Bestor, P. G. Steinhoff, and V. Lyon Bestor. University of Hawaii Press. (pp.315-334).

 

Gaztambide-Fernandez, R. (2009). The best of the best: Becoming elite at an American boarding school.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Introduction. (pp. 1-17). iPa©

Appendix: Researching identity at an elite boarding school. (pp.221-248). iPa©

 

Khan, S.R. (2011). Privilege.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Methodological and theoretical reflections. (pp.201-205).

 

Emerson, R.M., Fretz, R. & Shaw, S.S. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Second Edition.

Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Chapter 1: Fieldnotes in ethnographic research. (pp. 3-20).   iPa©

 

Further reading:

Khan, S.R. (2011). Privilege.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Introduction: Democratic inequality. (pp.1-17).

 

Post-class activity:

RESEARCH: Conduct an observation related to your research focus.

MEMO 3: Exploring what you learned from your observation. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

WEEK 6: October 11

Conducting qualitative research with young people: different strategies for accessing their thinking

This week we consider different approaches toward understanding the thinking of young people (or adults) – one ethnographic and action-oriented in approach, the other more in the tradition of developmental and cognitive psychology. We will also consider how researchers incorporate written and visual evidence into their investigations. Students will discuss their experiences of conducting an observation in their small learning communities.

 

Required reading:

Luttrell, W. (2003). Pregnant bodies, fertile minds: Gender, race, and the schooling of pregnant teens. New York: Routledge.

Preface (pp. xi-xviii).

Part II. Pregnant with meaning. Introduction (pp.41-46) and Chapter 3: Self-portraits: From girlhood to motherhood (pp.47-72). iPa©

 

Wineburg, S. S. (1991). Historical problem solving: A study of the cognitive processes used in the evaluation of documentary and pictorial evidence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(1), 73-87.

Dawes Duraisingh, E. (2017). Making narrative connections? Exploring how late teens relate their own lives to the historically significant past. London Review of Education. 15 (2), 174-193.

Post-class activity:

ACTIVITY: Analyze written and/or visual sources of your choice.

MEMO 4: Exploring what you learned from your analysis of written and/or visual sources. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

WEEK 7: October 18

Discourse analysis approaches

Validity issues

This week we will consider a different approach to coding qualitative data—one which takes the complexities of human discourse into account. We will also dive into key issues for all qualitative researchers: what counts as “good” qualitative research and how do qualitative researchers know that their interpretations are “right”? In their small learning communities, students will focus on how they will use their preliminary data and analysis to inform their research proposals.

 

Required reading:

Gee, J.P. (2011). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. Routledge: New York. iPa©

Introduction (pp.1-14). Chapter 10: Sample of discourse analysis 1 (pp.149-163).

 

Maxwell, J. (2010). Validity: How might you be wrong? In W. Luttrell (Ed.) Qualitative educational research: Readings in reflexive methodology and transformative practice. New York: Routledge (pp.279-287). iPa©

 

Luttrell, W. (2000). "Good enough” methods for ethnographic research. Harvard Educational Review (70) 4, 499-523.

 

Anfara, V. et al. (2002). Qualitative analysis on stage: Making the research process more public. Educational Researcher (31)7, 2-38.

 

Willig, C. (2008). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. Chapter 9: Quality in qualitative research (pp. 149-161). iPa©

 

Post-class activity:

MEMO 5: Relating your research to the literature. Bring this memo to the next class.

Reminder: Assignment 1 due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday, October 20 at 10pm.

 

WEEK 8: October 25

Key ethical issues in qualitative research; negotiating relationships

Workshop with advanced doctoral students

This week’s session provides an opportunity to interact with a panel of advanced doctoral students who are pursuing different kinds of qualitative research. The guests will talk briefly about their work before participating in a workshop-style session that will enable us to compare and contrast their research interests and approaches. We will also continue to consider issues of identity and reflexivity in qualitative research. In particular, we will discuss researchers’ ethical responsibilities to people who are directly and indirectly involved in their research.

 

Required reading:

Eve Tuck (2009). Suspending damage: A letter to communities. Harvard Educational Review. 79 (3) 409-427.

 

Thorne, B. (2010). Learning from kids. In W. Luttrell (Ed.) Qualitative educational research: Readings in reflexive methodology and transformative practice. New York: Routledge (pp.407-420). iPa©

 

Lareau, A.  (2014). The days are long but the years fly by: Reflections on the challenge of doing qualitative research. In A. Garey & R. Hertz, Open to Disruption: Time and Craft in the Practice of Slow Sociology. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 266-277.

 

Lawrence-Lightfoot, S. (2012). Exit. New York, NY: Sarah Creighton Books. (pp.73-99). iPa©

 

Further reading:

Cerwonka, A. & Malkki, L.H. (2007). Improvising theory: Process and temporality in ethnographic fieldwork. The University of Chicago Press.

You might want to browse the whole book to get a sense of what ethnographic research looks like ‘on the ground’ including how relationships are continually being negotiated; this book takes the form of correspondence between a doctoral student and her advisor.

 

Fine, M., Weis, L., Weseen, S. & Wong, L. (2000). For whom? Qualitative research, representations, and social responsibilities. In N. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc. (pp.107-132). iPa©

 

 

 

Post-class activity:

MEMO 6: Reflecting on your identity and ethical responsibilities as a researcher. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

WEEK 9: November 1

Portraiture and case studies

We turn this week to the rich qualitative research approach pioneered by HGSE’s Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot: portraiture. We will compare portraiture to the case study approach

and reprise our ongoing themes of validity, ethics, and researcher identity. Students will meet in their small learning communities to work on refining the focus of their individual research proposals.

 

Required reading:

Lawrence-Lightfoot, S. & Hoffman-Davies, J. (1997). The art and science of portraiture. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Chapter 1: View of the whole (pp.1-18). iPa©

 

Lawrence-Lightfoot, S. (1983). The good high school: Portraits of character and culture. New York: Basic Books. Chapter 3: John F. Kennedy High School: Balancing forces: Creating a pluralistic community (pp.56-118). iPa©

 

Diamond, J. & Lewis, A.E. (2015). Despite the best intentions: How racial inequality thrives in good schools. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 1: Introduction (pp. 1-16).

Appendix: Short summary of research methods (pp. 183-187 – extract on interviews).

 

Further reading:

Stake, Robert E. (2005). Qualitative case studies. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (pp. 443-467).

 

Chávez, M. S. (2012). Autoethnography, a Chicana's Methodological Research Tool: The Role of Storytelling for Those Who Have No Choice but to do Critical Race Theory. Equity & Excellence in Education, 45(2), 334-348. 

 

The following website offers a clear and compelling overview of auto-ethnography as a qualitative research method: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

 

Post-class activity:

MEMO 7: Refining your research design. Bring this memo to the next class.

 

 

WEEK 10: November 8

Action research strategies; design based studies

This week we will explore youth participatory action research and the kinds of qualitative research that seek both to support and document immediate real-world change. Students will continue to work on their research questions and research design in their small learning communities.

 

Required reading:

Huang, H. B. (2010). What is good action research?: Why the resurgent interest? Action Research, 8(1), pp. 93-109. E-Resources Link: http://ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1476750310362435?nosfx=y

 

Brown, T.M. & Rodríguez, L.F.  (2009). Youth in participatory action research. San Francisco: Jossey Bass/Wiley

Chapter 1: From voice to agency: Guiding principles for participation action research with youth (pp. 19-34). iPa©

 

Cammarota, J. & Fine, M. (2008). Revolutionizing education: Youth Participatory Action Research in motion. New York: Routledge.

Chapter 1: Youth Participatory Action Research: A pedagogy for transformational resistance (pp.1-11). iPa©

 

Further reading:

Cammarota, J.  & Romero, A.F. (2009). A social justice epistemology and pedagogy for Latina/o students: Transforming public education with participatory action research.  New Directions for Youth Development 123, 53-65.


Cahill, C. (2004). Defying gravity? Raising consciousness through collective research.  Children’s Geographies 2 (2), 273-286.


Ozer, E.J. & Wright, D. (2012). Beyond school spirit: The effects of youth-led participatory action research in two urban high schools. Journal of Research on Adolescence 22 (2), 267-283.

 

 

Post-class activity:

TASK: Work on drafting your proposal. Bring a puzzle, challenge, or concern about your overall design to the next class.

Reminder: Assignment 2 due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday, November 17 at 10pm.

 

WEEK 11: November 15

Mixed methods approaches

This week we will pick up our discussion of how qualitative and quantitative research methods relate to one another. We will discuss two examples of mixed methods research, exploring the potential benefits of using both quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate a particular phenomenon. We will also consider the practical and epistemological difficulties that can arise from trying to combine very different research approaches. There will be allocated time for small learning communities to meet.

 

Required reading:

Teddlie, C. & Tashakkori, A. (2011). Mixed methods research: Contemporary issues in an emerging field. Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications Inc. (pp.285-300). iPa©

 

Yoshikawa, H. (2011). Immigrants raising children: Undocumented parents and their young children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Chapter 6: How parents’ undocumented status matters for children’s early learning (pp.120-136).

Appendix: Overview of study design and methods (pp. 151-164). iPa©

 

Shi, Y. et al. (2015). Dropout in rural China’s secondary schools: A mixed-methods analysis. The China Quarterly 224, 1048-1069.

 

Further reading:

Bryman, A. (2007). Barriers to integrating quantitative and qualitative research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research (1) 8, 8-22.

 

Creswell, J. (2011). Controversies in mixed methods research. In M.Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.) The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications Inc. (pp. 269-284).

 

Post-class activity:

TASK: Prepare your presentation for our final class.

 

WEEK 12: November 29

Class presentations

Our final session will take the format of a small research conference; the class will divide into two groups. All students will give brief presentations on their research proposals and respond to questions from the audience. Students will receive constructive feedback from their peers and the course teaching team.

 

Reminder: Final research proposal due in Canvas Dropbox by Friday, December 15 at 10pm.