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Qualitative Research for Education:
Theory and Methods
Professor Ling Li
College of Education
Office hours in TJB Building #219
by appointment firstname.lastname@example.org
I. Course Description
II. Course Objectives
III. Course Textbook and Readings
IV. Course Requirements
VI. Course Outline and Schedules
I. Course Description
Education research is a complex endeavor involving several different methodological approaches. This course focuses on one kind of approach: qualitative methods. Qualitative research has a different tradition and founding theories from quantitative research, and the two modes of methodology are mutually complementary. This course includes two modules. The first module focuses on an introduction and inquiry into the theories and methodologies of qualitative research. And the second module will present a series of qualitative research projects to show how qualitative research is done in specific cases.
The first module is divided into seven sections. (1) Origins, development and theoretical underpinnings, which will cover Chicago Sociology, the Sociology of Education, European connections and the Social Movement, and many other political, ideological and social events that promoted the development of qualitative research, and cover theories such as phenomenology, symbolic interaction, feminism and postmodernism. (2) Research design, which will introduce the designing of different types of qualitative research such as case studies and multi-site studies. (3) Field work, including issues and challenges for access, cultural, political and emotional issues in the field and approaches of doing fieldwork like interview and tape recording. (4) Collection of qualitative data, introducing approaches of data collection such as field notes, transcripts, photography, documents and others. (5) Data analysis and interpretation, focusing on data category, the coding system, and interpretation. (6) Writing process, which touches the decisions to be made in the process, and what a good qualitative research writing is like. (7) Application in education, covering evaluation and policy research, action research and others. In this module, the major forms of instruction will be lectures based on the course text. Also, students are required to read lists of reading materials, relevant to the section topics. Based on their personal understanding of the lecture and readings, and on the real issues that they come across in doing qualitative research projects, student groups are requested to give 30-minute presentations on the following weeks after each lecture, and they are responsible for leading the class discussion about the topics and their presentations. In this way, the course aims to enhance and ensure students’ real acquisition of the knowledge and theories of the qualitative research methodology.
The second module will focus on the real practice and application of qualitative research methods. It includes a series of qualitative research projects presentations given by two students, the course instructor, and several professional scholars from Canada and the US, who are specialized in qualitative research methods, via long-distant internet videos. Apart from the theories of qualitative research, this course is intended as a practice for conducting fieldwork and applying techniques to researching and analyzing educational phenomena on a practical setting. Therefore, the second module, on the basis of the first, attempts to make students really involved in the real context of qualitative research and to make them learn by doing it themselves and learn by viewing how others are doing it. The long-distant lectures by the international professors aim to contribute international perspectives for students to view and understand qualitative research in different cultures.
II. Course Objectives
1. Develop a basic understanding of the theoretical orientations that underlie qualitative methods in education.
2. Understand the kinds of questions which have been and can be addressed with qualitative research.
3. Understand the features and procedures in qualitative research methods and approaches.
4. Know how to formulate a viable research question independently.
5. Learn about and practice qualitative data collection methods.
6. Learn and practice qualitative data analysis and interpretation.
7. Know how to prepare and conduct a research project
8. Begin work on a small research project in the field, requiring the use of qualitative data collection and analysis methods.
9. Prepare and write a qualitative research proposal/paper/report/thesis
III. Course Textbook and Readings
Bogdan, R.C. & Biklen, S.K. (2006). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. (5th edition.). Boston: Pearson.
Other Required Readings
Creswell, J.W. (2004). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Li, L. (2008). Constructing teacher’s professional identity in China and Canada：Life stories in context. Saarbrucken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG.
Li, L. & Niyozov, S. (2008). Negotiating teacher's professional identity in a changing Chinese society. Education and Society, 26 (2), 69-84.
Li, L. (2006). Constructing professional identity through narrative inquiry into
educational experiences of four generations of women in my family. Paper
presented at The 2006 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of
Education, in Toronto, Canada.
Maxwell, J.A. (1996). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Maxwell, J.A. (2004). Qualitative research design. (2nd edition.). Sage publications.
Miles, M. & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. (2nd edition.). Sage publications.
Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. (3rd edition.). Sage publications.
(see more in VI. Course outline and schedules)
IV. Course Requirements
Classes will be a combination of instructor lectures, student-led discussions on lectures and readings, student collaborative presentations, and finally practice project presentations. In addition to class participation, students are required to complete assignments and a final course paper using what will be learned through the course and in the practice. Students who are going to use qualitative research as methods in the graduation thesis will be required to submit thesis proposal and draft accordingly.
(1) Class Participation (10%). Students will be expected to attend all the lectures and contribute to class discussion. Students are encouraged to propose questions and opinions related to the instructor’s lectures, preparation of the class and required reading materials. Students should participate and interact actively with the lecturer’s and other classmates’ presentations
(2) Weekly Presentation (30%). Students will be divided into seven groups, with four or five in each group. The groups will be expected to give a 30 minute collaborative presentations of their work concerning a topic related to the previous lecture theme. Presentations will pertain to the additional readings for the previous week lecture and should come to class prepared to lead discussion and critique about the readings of that topic.
(3) Research Paper (60%). This is the main requirement for the course. The paper will serve as an important exercise in how to design an educational research project using qualitative research methods and based on fieldwork. For those who plan to conduct empirical research in their graduation thesis, this paper can be replaced by a thesis proposal or even the thesis draft. Students should consult with instructor about the research question at some point during the semester and begin the development of a conceptual framework for a qualitative research study as soon during the process of the course.
Students will receive a grade for their class participation (10% of the final grade), group presentation (30%) and the final paper (60%).
Percentage of Course Grade
Research Paper/Thesis proposal
VI. Course outline and schedule
Week 1: Course orientation
1. What the course is about?
2. What you will learn?
3. What you will do?
4. What we will read?
5. How I will grade?
6. What is “Qualitative Research”?
7. The difference between qualitative and quantitative research
8. What you will be able to do after the course?
Week 2: Foundations of Qualitative Research for Education
1. Characteristics of Qualitative Research
2. Traditions of Qualitative Research
2.1 Disciplinary Traditions
2.2 Chicago Sociology
2.3 The Sociology of Education
2.4 European Connections and the Social Movement
2.5 Ideological and Political Practices
2.6 Ideologies and Social Change
2.7 Politics and Theory in the Academy
3. Theoretical Underpinnings
3.1 Phenomenological Approach
3.2 Symbolic Interaction
3.3 A Story
3.6 The Current Theoretical Scene: Cultural Studies, Feminism,
3.7 Critical theory and Institutional Ethnography
3.8 On Methods and Methodology
Week 3: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2004). Handbook of qualitative research (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Gadamer, H. (1975). Truth and method. New York: The Seabury Press.
Husserl, E. (1965). Phenomenology and the crisis of Philosophy. New York: Harper Torchbooks.
Mills, C. W. (1970). The sociological imagination. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Ryle, G. (1949). The concept of mind. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.
Week 4: Research Design
1. Choosing a Study
2. Case Studies
2.1 Historical Organizational Case Studies
2.2 Observational Case Studies
2.3 Life History
2.5 Other Forms of Case Studies
2.6 Case-study Design Issues
2.7 Multi-case Studies
3. Multisite Studies
3.1 Modified Analytic Induction
3.2 The Constant Comparative Method
3.3 Multi-Site Ethnography
4. Additional Issues Related to Design
4.1 Proposal Writing
4.2 Interview Schedules and Observer Guides
4.3 Team Research and the Lone Ranger
4.4 Qualitative Research and Historical Research
Week 5: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Cole, A. L., & Knowles, J. G. (2001). Lives in context: The art of life history research. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (Eds.) (2001). Handbook of interview research: Context and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Heshusius, L. (1994). Freeing ourselves from objectivity: Managing subjectivity or turning toward a participatory mode of consciousness. Education Researcher, 23(3). 15-22
King, T. (2003). The truth about stories: A native narrative. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.
Lawrence-Lightfoot, S., &Davis, J. H. (1997). The art and science of portraiture. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, Ch. 3.
Merriam, S. B. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Ch. 5.
Sparkes, A. (1994). Life histories and the issue of voice: Reflections on an emerging relationship. Qualitative Studies in Education, 7(2), 165-183.
Week 6: Fieldwork
1. Gaining Access
2. First Days in the Fields
3. The Participant/Observer Continuum
4. Doing Fieldwork in Another Culture
5. Research Characteristics and Special Problem with Rapport
6. Be Discreet
7. Researching in Politically Charged and Conflict-Ridden Settings
9.1 Focus Groups
9.2 Audio Recording
10.Visual Recording and Fieldwork
12.Leaving the Field
Week 7: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Morgan, D. L. (2001). Focus group interviewing. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.) Handbook of interview research: Context and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Schram, T. H. (2003). Conceptualizing qualitative inquiry: Mindwork for fieldwork in education and the social sciences. Upper Saddle River, NJ/Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Burgess, R. G. (1989). Grey areas: Ethical dilemmas in educational ethnography. In R. G. Burgess (Ed.). The ethics of educational research. Barcombe, Lewes, East Sussex: Falmer Press.
Kvale, S. (1996). Ethical issues in interview inquires. InterViews. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, Ch. 6.
Phtiaka, H. (1994). What’s in it for us? Qualitative Studies in Education, 7(2), 155-164.
Riddell, S. (1989). Exploiting the exploited: The ethics of feminist educational research. In R. G. Burgess (Ed.). The ethics of educational research. Barcombe, Lewes, East Sussex: Falmer Press.
Week 8: Qualitative Data
1. Some Friendly Advice
2.1 The content of fieldnotes
2.2 The Form of Fieldnotes
3. The Process of Writing Fieldnotes
4. Transcripts from Taped Interviews
4.1 The Form of Transcripts
4.2 Recording Equipment
5.1 Personal Documents
5.2 Official Documents
5.3 Popular culture documents
6.1 Found photographs
6.2 Research-Produced Photographs
6.3 Photographs as Analysis
6.4 Technique and Equipment
7. Official Statistics and Other Quantitative Data
8. Concluding Remarks
Week 9: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Hill, M.R. (1993). Archival Strategies and Techniques. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Jupp, V. (1996). Documents and Critical Research. In Roger Sapsford and Victor Jupp (eds.) Data Collection and Analysis. (pp. 298-316). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Plummer, K. (2001). Documents of life: An invitation to a critical humanism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, Ch 8.
Wengraf,Tom.(2001). Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage Publications.
Week 10: Data Analysis and Interpretation
1. Analysis and Interpretation in the Field
1.1 More Tips
2. Analysis and Interpretation after Data Collection
2.1 Developing Coding Categories
2.2 Preassigned Coding Systems
2.3 Influences on Coding and Analysis
3. The Mechanics of Working with Data
4. Computers and Data Analysis
6. Concluding Remarks
Week 11: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Cole, A. L., & Mclntyre, M. (2004). Research as aesthetic contemplation: The role of the audience in research interpretation. Educational Insights, 9(1), http://www.ccfi.educ.ubc.ca/publication/insights/v0901/articles/cole.html.
Wolcott, H. F. (1994). Transforming qualitative data: Description, analysis, and interpretation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N. K. (1997). Interpretive ethnography: Ethnographic practices for the 21st Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, Ch. 8.
Week 12: Writing It Up
1. Writing Choices
1.1 Decision about Your Argument
1.2 Decision about Your Presence in the Text
1.3 Decision about Your Audience
1.4 Decision about Disciplines
1.5 Decision about the Introduction
1.6 Decision about the Core of the Paper and Strategies for Communicating Evidence
1.7 Decision about the conclusion
2. More Writing Tips
2.1 Call It a Draft
2.2 Styles of Presentation
2.4 “Yes. But…?”
2.5 Keep It Simple Up Front
2.6 Whose Perspective Are You Writing From?
2.7 Jargon and Code
2.8 On Giving Voices
2.9 General Advice
3. Criteria for Evaluating Writing
3.1 Is It Convincing?
3.2 Is the Author in Control of the Writing?
3.3 Does It Make a Contribution?
5. A Final Point about Getting Started
Week 13: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Hewett, H. (2004). In search of an “I”: Embodied voice and the personal essay. Women’s Studies, 33, 719-741.
Richardson, L. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of qualitative research (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Week 14: Applied Qualitative Research for Education
1. Writing a Qualitative Research Proposal and Report
1.1 Writing a Qualitative Research Proposal
1.2 Writing a Qualitative Research Report
1.3 Qualitative Research: New Directions
2. Action Research
2.1 The Case of It Not Adding Up: Description
2.2 The Case of It Not Adding Up: Discussion
2.3 Political Action Research
2.4 What Action Research Can Do?
2.5 The Action Research Approach to Data
2.6 Action Research and the Qualitative Tradition
3. Practitioner Uses of Qualitative Research
3.1 Employing Qualitative Research to Improve Your Teaching
3.2 The Qualitative Approach and Teacher Education
Week 15: Student-led Presentation and Discussion
Eisner, E. (1991). Do qualitative case studies have lessons to teach? In The enlightened eye. New York: Macmillan, ChIX (pp. 197-212).
Kvale,S. (1995). The social construction of validity. Qualitative Inquiry, 1 (1). 19-40.
Neilsen, L. (2002). Learning from the liminal: Fiction as knowledge. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 48(3). 206-214.
Peshkin, A. (1993). The goodness of qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 22(2), 24-30.
Week 16: Doing Qualitative Research —A Series of Presentations
Presenter: Wu Yang-Ping
Presenter: Jia Ju-Ping
Week 17: Doing Qualitative Research —A Series of Presentations
1. Carving Beautiful Lives: Shaping Folk Arts in the Yangtze Three Gorges
Instructor: Professor Li Ling
2. Ethnic Minority Education of Southwestern China
Instructor: Professor Yao Jia-Li
Week 18: Doing Qualitative Research —A Series of Presentations
1. Ethnographical Approach to Teaching and Learning
Instructor: Professor Grace Feuerverger（OISE/University of Toronto）
2. Narrative Inquiry: Narrative in Educational Studies
Instructors: Professor Micheal Connelly（OISE/University of Toronto）Associate Professor Xu Shi-Jing (University of Windsor）and Associate Professor Fang Yan-Ping（Nanyang Technological
3. Qualitative Research and Ethical Review in Canada
Instructor: Dr. Terry Sefton (University of Windsor)
地址：重庆市北碚区天生路2号田家炳教育书院 电话：023-68252305 网址：jyxb.swu.edu.cn
The Faculty of Education , Southwest University