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Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview of the Field
Understanding qualitative research: A school nurse perspective
Broussard, L. (2006). The Journal of School Nursing, 22(4), 212-218.
1. Lisa Broussard is a school nurse in New Orleans. One reason I selected this article for you to read is that it is written from the viewpoint of a practitioner. I think you can readily identify with the writing. She states that one goal is to provide an overview of the common elements of qualitative research. Try to compare the elements she writes about in Table 1 with the critical elements I outline for you. To what extent do the elements she provides compare with the ones I provide?
2. Broussard identifies four methods commonly used. Can you state a brief summary of each of the methods? Which one is different from the methods I discuss. (Hint—you might need to look at Chapter 5)
3. In what ways do you think this article helped clarify the basic principles of qualitative research in education?
Qualitative research in counseling psychology: Conceptual foundations
Morrow, S. (2007). The Counseling Psychologist, 35(2), 209-235.
1. Although Morrow’s stated audience is in counseling psychology, you can learn much from reading this article. In the section called purposes and goals of qualitative research, she identifies several reasons that psychologists should consider adopting qualitative approaches. Identify at least three of the reasons. Do you agree that these reasons can be applied to education?
2. How do the core assumptions she presents compare to the ten critical elements I present in chapter 1?
3. Why do you think Morrow concludes, “counseling psychology programs have done little to date to respond to the needs for new paradigms and methods (p. 229)? Do you think this is also true in the field of education?
Chapter 2: Insights from the Past
Qualitative research traditions: A review
Jacob, E. (1987). Review of Educational Research, 57(1), 1-50.
Clarifying qualitative research: A focus on traditions.
Jacob, E. (1988). Educational Researcher, 17(1), 22-24
Qualitative research: A defense of traditions
Jacob, E. (1989). Review of Educational Research, 59(2), 229-235
1. Jacob’s prepared three articles in the 1980s explaining her position on the entrance of qualitative research into the field of education.
2. In the 1987 article, she speaks about five traditions—ecological psychology, holistic ethnography, cognitive anthropology, ethnography of communication, and symbolic interactionism. I think it is easy to get caught up in semantics here. I don’t want you to try to learn new terms. Instead I want you to think about her central argument—that qualitative research in education comes from other disciplines. While she seems to say that the totality of a tradition should be used, she modifies this position in the next article. What can you learn from reading this first article?
3. In the 1988 article, she clarifies that qualitative research is not meant to be one single tradition, but rather a variety of approaches. Looking at these ideas more than twenty years later, how do you see them being similar or different from what I have outlined in this chapter on the history of qualitative research in education?
4. By 1989, after criticism by British writers Atkinson, Delamont, and Hammersley in 1988, she clarifies what she means by tradition. What does she say about traditions? Was it helpful to read this background?
Preparation of educational researchers in philosophical foundations of inquiry
Paul, J., & Marfo, K. (2001). Review of Educational Research, 71(4), 525-547.
1. Paul and Marfo provide a nice historical overview. One central point to the article is that preparation of students is driven more by techniques and less by philosophy. Does this review reflect your own preparation? Would you like to have more emphasis on philosophy? If so, how would it help you understand key elements of qualitative research?
2. They stress collaborative research? Does that exist at your institution? How can you be more proactive in the stance of collaboration? Would your instructor support your ideas and those of Paul and Marfo?
Chapter 3: Learning How to be a Qualitative Researcher
Journeying the quagmire: Exploring the discourses that shape the qualitative research process.
O’Connor, D. (2001). Affilia, 16(2), 138-158
1. Broussard took you on her journey of learning to be a qualitative researcher in her article. Here, O’Connor looks at her own pragmatic and ethical struggles as she navigates through the field. She uses three provocative headings: establishing the terrain, plotting the course, and setting forth. You really should be able to identify with the struggle in which she found herself. What can you come away with that will help you as you try to assimilate some of these new ideas?
2. Read the section on page 149 called Slipping into the Swamp: Whose Voice? I really want you to think about how she writes. Why do you think she uses the metaphor—slipping into the swamp? Do you feel that way?
3. This article is written from a feminist perspective. What do you think provides the evidence for this statement?
Qualitative inquiry and the IRB: Protection at all costs.
Leisey, M. (2008). Qualitative Social Work, 7(4), 415-426
1. In this article, Leisey writes of her own struggles as she navigated through getting approval for her dissertation on the topic of domestic violence. Perhaps it is too early in your journey about being and becoming a qualitative researcher, but I wanted you to read about some dilemmas you might face. She addresses some interesting problems. One is that in the type of research she was doing, the researcher and those being studied are considered co-creators of the knowledge. She talks about a lack of fit of the standards of the IRB and of her own type of research. Do you think her complaints are legitimate? How would you handle them?
2. Does she make a good case for needing to hear marginalized voices? Do you think you might face some of the same issues as you think about your own interests?
Chapter 4: Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research
Great ethical divides: Bridging the gap between institutional review boards and researchers.
Hemmings, A. (2006). Educational Researcher, 35(4), 12-18
1. This article addresses many of the same issues that Leisey addresses as she made her way through the IRB at her institution. I think Hemmings points up clearly the struggle or divide (as she says) between the views of IRBs and the tenets of certain qualitative approaches. Here she speaks about educational ethnography. She writes from the position of an instructor rather than a student. But I think she raises many of the same issues. What are some of the strategies she suggests have met with some success? (Hint. Look on p. 16).
2. Do you see these as ethical issues? In what way?
The dark side of truth(s): Ethical dilemmas in researching the personal.
Clark, M., & Sharf, B. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry 13(3), 399-416.
1. Clark and Sharf raise some challenging issues. Written from a personal viewpoint, they speak about “shared humanity” and the admonition to do no harm. They present several cases. I found the case of Sabine very interesting. What to do with information that might be damaging—include it or not in the analysis? What would you do with Sabine’s story?
2. In the example of Mikhail, they present a case that might be outside of your own experience. Can you do research on sensitive topics in a totalitarian country? If so, are you putting your informant at risk? Can you imagine a situation closer to home with similar consequences?
Chapter 5: Designing Your Research
Challenges enacting caring teacher education
Goldstein, L., & Freedman, D. (2003). Journal of Teaching Education, 54(5), 441-454
1. These authors study teacher education by looking at e-journal entries of students in a pre-service class. Each author examined the data independent of each other. How would you contrast the style of this research with that of Day and Gu? Do you think one is more believable than the other? Which would you rather do?
2. If you were going to improve on this study, how would you change it?
Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Research on Teachers’ Lives, Work, and Effectiveness: From Integration to Synergy
Day, C., Sammons, P., & Gu, Q. (2008), Educational Researcher, 37(6), 330-342
1. This example is a very comprehensive study with many teachers followed over a 3-year period. If you have considerable time and money, you could try something like this. However, a single person could not really do it. One idea that the authors stress is that by using both quantitative and qualitative methods the findings are more robust and complete. Do you agree with this idea? What are some potential drawbacks of using both methods?
2. What parts of the article did you find difficult to understand?
Chapter 6: Embarking on Qualitative Research
Popular film as an instructional strategy in qualitative research methods
Saldana, J. (2008). Qualitative Inquiry, 15(1), 247-261
1. These two articles discuss ideas about how qualitative research can be taught (and learned). Saldana presents ideas about using popular films. The various films he selects illustrate different principles related to qualitative research. For example, he uses a film to illustrate the Tuskegee Experiment. You will recall reading about it in Chapter 4. Do you have an opportunity to use films in your instruction? When you read about conducting observations later on, you will see that I also recommend the use of films.
2. Saldana has identified a number of films that might be useful in learning different concepts. Can you think of others that might be used? What about using video clips from YouTube or using televised series? I cannot stress enough the use of visual culture and visual stimulation.
A neophyte about online teaching: Almost done
Lee, K. (2008), Qualitative Inquiry, 14(7), 1180-1186
1. Lee presents alternatives to face-to-face teaching. I have explored online teaching with several of my classes and in another section present verbatim dialogue between class members and instructor. You should be drawn to Lee’s article because the style of writing is direct and immediate. It is an example of an autoethnography. Yet I believe you will find that Lee learns as much about herself as about her class. Do you think this is valuable? Is it really research?
2. You might find when reading this article that the author should have explained a little more about what she was doing. She does not include a literature review. She only includes a very few references—two of which are by her. Does this affect your acceptance of the information presented?
Chapter 7: Self-Reflexivity and Subjectivity
Research news and comment: Confessions of a quantitative educational researcher trying to teach qualitative research
Stallings, W. (1995). Educational Researcher, 24(3), 31-32
1. I hope you have read my personal journey. I think Stallings followed a similar one. It seemed as though many of us followed the same pathway. Do you think Stallings story differs from mine? If so, do you think my being female and Stallings being male are important?
2. I wonder if we are still learning today? Do you think Stallings feels the same way as he did in 1995? Notice that his references do not include those from a feminist perspective.
Reflexive accounts and accounts of reflexivity in qualitative data analysis
Mauthner, N., & Doucet, A. (2003). Sociology, 37(3), 413-431
1. Mauthner and Doucet are concerned in this article about how to incorporate reflexivity in the process of data analysis. It is written in an academic fashion and provides some examples. I think the specific examples, especially about themselves should be helpful to you as you think about the issues of reflexivity. You should read the academic and personal biographical information that begins on page 420.
2. In addition to being about reflexivity, this article addresses many issues of feminism. Did you find any particularly useful?
A journal about journal writing as a qualitative research technique: History, issues, and reflections
Janesick, V. (1999) Qualitative Inquiry, 5(4), 505-524
1. Janesick reveals herself by writing this journal. She had just completed a course in journal writing and used the vehicle to write a journal article. (No pun on words here!) One reason I ask you to read this is that she tries to be clear and direct in her writing—in other words, reveals herself. In my book, I have included some journal entries my students wrote during the course. Look at the 4 purposes of the article on page 506. Do you think Janesick accomplished those goals in this journal?
2. How do you think this type of journal writing compares with participant diaries discussed by Jacelon?
Chapter 8: The Role and Function of a Literature Review
Synthesizing qualitative research: a review of published reports
Dixon-Woods, M., Booth, A., & Sutton, A. (2007). Qualitative Research, 7(3), 375-422
1. In this paper, the authors present a review of qualitative research in the health field. I want you to look at the procedures used. For a long time, researchers have conducted a systematic review of other research related to their topic. This is often included in an original piece of research and is called a literature review or a review of related research. What these authors consider is how to do a synthesis of other syntheses—what might be called a meta-analysis of qualitative research. These authors suggest that specific procedures should be followed to conduct a systematic review: have a specific study protocol, use a highly focused question, include specific methods for locating studies, evaluate studies for “scientific quality”, and include specific methods for combining studies. In my mind, all these criteria sound like what should be used for quantitative, traditional types of research. One question I raise. Do you think the criteria are appropriate when trying to synthesize qualitative research?
2. I don’t expect you to read the many pages in the tables. Rather, skip to the discussion beginning on page 42. If you had to develop criteria for evaluating a study, what would you include?
Chapter 9: Learning about Others Through Interviewing
Learning to interview in the social sciences
Roulston, K., deMarrais, K., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative Inquiry, 9(4), 643-668
1. Roulston and her colleagues discuss how they went about teaching interviewing to students. I have provided you with many activities to learn how to conduct a qualitative interview. What information can you glean from this article that will enhance your own preparation?
2. I am really struck with the traditional way in which this article is written. It follows a very precise presentation format. It even includes a table with some statistical information. Why do you think the authors chose to write about their study in this manner?
Open-ended interviews, power, and emotional labor
Hoffmann, E. (2007). Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 36(3), 318-346
1. Hoffmann presents some very interesting ideas. She is especially interested in power dynamics. She suggests you pay attention to the concept that there is no single truth (I have mentioned it several times). Rather the interview has become a shared collaborative construct. As such, she suggests that you follow the idea of looking at emotional labor—we need to understand, express and report our emotions. These concepts are somewhat difficult to assimilate. How can you acknowledge them and incorporate them in your own development?
2. Read in particular the literature she includes on power and emotional labor beginning on page 320. I think this will help you understand the issues. Then you should read the Interview Dance on page 337. What can you say about these issues?
Chapter 10: Learning about Others Through Observations and Other Techniques
Conspicuous invisibility: Shadowing as a data collection strategy
Quinlan, E. (2008). Qualitative Inquiry, 14(8), 1480-1499
1. Quinlan explores the use of shadowing in institutional ethnography. She looks at such nuances as being there or not, distance and proximity, and friendship and neutrality. Her particular interest is in what people do in their daily lives and not the roles they play. Although she studied nurses, can you imagine what you might do to study teachers or administrators? In a study done many years ago, Wolcott actually studied a principal for one year. What can you learn from this article that you can adopt and adapt for the shadowing of a teacher?
2. What are some disadvantages discussed by Quinlan? (See pp.1496-1497). How might you deal with those if you were going to apply this technique?
Visual data in applied qualitative research: Lessons from experience
Mason, P. (2005). Qualitative Research, 5(3), 325-346
1. Mason provides a description of how he used visual data that had been generated in a community-development arts project. Mason admits almost immediately that the idea was not successful in achieving its goal. So what can we learn from what Mason offers? One thing he provides is a nice review of what he refers to as image-based qualitative research. If you have an interest in this area, I suggest you read the review beginning on p. 328. Why do you think the field has moved away from a concern to capture realism to a recognition of the role of the ethnographer?
2. Mason grappled with how to get evidence from these visual images. I think this is a similar dilemma to how to code notes or text. He offers some suggestions. Do you think they will be helpful to you?
Participant diaries as a source of data in research with older adults
Jacelon, C., & Imperio, K. (2005). Qualitative Health Research, 15(7), 991-997
1. As you have been learning, there are a variety of ways to collect data. Jacelon and Imperio present still another alternative to traditional interviewing and direct observation. They discuss the use of solicited, personal diaries. They define this type of diary as one written so that the writer reflects on issues related to the research. In the study they describe, they used diaries as part of a grounded theory study with older adults. The format varied somewhat—all did not actually write in a diary as we think of it. I suspect if the participants were younger, they might have written directly into a computer program. Can you think of examples where you might want to use this technique in your own research?
2. Of course, what do you do with the data is always a problem. One shortcoming of the article is that the authors do not actually address how the data were handled. I want you to think about the idea and apply it in your own setting.
Chapter 11: Making Meaning from Your Data
Learning to do qualitative data analysis: An observational study of doctoral work
Li, S., & Seale, C. (2007). Qualitative Health Research, 17(10), 1442-1452
1. I think this is a fascinating article. Li and Seale analyzed the data they collected on a project they conducted teaching students to conduct data analysis. Sounds somewhat convoluted. Yet, when you read what they did, you too will find it quite interesting. They used the computer software program NVivo—something I have also used. They identify these four problems in doing the data analysis—a) not knowing where to begin, b) ambiguous coding categories, c) reporting or recording problems, and d) over-interpretation. Have you faced similar problems as you began data analysis? What other problems have you encountered?
2. What solutions do the authors offer to deal with some of the problems?
Chapter 12: Communicating Your Ideas
A call for the teaching of writing in graduate education
Rose, M., & McClafferty, K. (2001). Educational Researcher, 30(2), 27-33
1. When you decided to pursue an advanced degree, did you anticipate that you would have to do so much writing? This is especially true if you are writing a qualitative research study. Now, how do you get prepared to do this? You probably have not had a formal course in writing since you were in undergraduate school, or maybe when you were in elementary or high school. Rose and McClafferty offer some suggestions. Which ones do you find helpful? How can you incorporate some of these ideas in your own written work?
2. Grammar, style, logic, and voice. What do these terms mean? Do you have trouble with any of them?
The failure of dissertation advice books: toward alternative pedagogies for doctoral writing
Kamler, B., & Thomson, B. (2008). Educational Researcher, 37(8), 507-514
1. Kamler and Thomson are concerned that the various guides to writing doctoral dissertations reduce the task to a series of linear steps, further position the student in a novice role vis-à-vis the adviser/mentor, and reveal hidden rules. Instead, they prefer doctoral students to be in a role that is more collegial and shared than the traditional role. Do you agree with their premise? How do you feel about being in such a role? What do you think your mentor believes?
2. They offer some suggestions of recent writing that takes a less hierarchical viewpoint? As students, how do you feel about your own skills and abilities to embark on this road?
3. To what extent do you think their position depends on a particular cultural milieu? Remember, their backgrounds are Australian and British?
Chapter 13: Judging and Evaluating
Standards of evidence in qualitative research: An incitement to discourse.
Freeman et al. (2007). Educational Researcher, 36(1), 25-32
1. These authors take the position that researchers resist political forces that impose a set of restrictive standards. In fact, they see such standards as inhibiting the creation of new methodologies. They ask this important question: “How can we best listen to, work with, and represent the people our work is intended to serve?” (p.30) Do you agree?
2. They make some other important points that I want you to consider. Think about these ideas. Not all criteria are relevant. A study can meet all criteria and still not produce anything worth knowing. Are you still finding yourself asking the question? What makes a piece of qualitative research “good”? I urge you to think for yourself, but be armed with knowledge.
The stories educational researchers tell about themselves
Smith, J. (1997). Educational Researcher, 26(5), 4-11
1. Writing a decade earlier, Smith outlines a fragmentation among the research community. Read his review of the discussion between McKenna and his colleagues and Edelsky. He suggests part of the problem is a “clash of vocabularies” (p. 7).
2. I ask whether we are talking about apples and oranges and whether one is better than the other. I hope you can see that a return to this type of debate does not help the profession.
Chapter 14: Thinking About the Future
Are We (T)here Yet? Qualitative Research in Education's Profuse and Contested Present
Wright, H. (2006). International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19(6) 793-802
(NOTE: This is not a SAGE article, so we’re unable to provide the full text. However, you should be able to locate the article through your university library)
“This essay addresses the topic of the state of qualitative research in education by asserting that qualitative research in education is in quite a state. Drawing heavily on Denzin and Lincoln's periodization of qualitative research as a guide, it outlines the various competing developments from within and outside that are vying to characterize the current moment and illustrates the difficulty of pinpointing the moment. Arguing for a conception of overlapping moments rather than a neat historical progression, the essay posits that the current period is simultaneously one of overt politicization, epistemological and paradigmatic proliferation, post-posts (post-postmodernism, post-poststructuralism, post-experimentation) and a new post (postcolonialism), as well as a new or renewed paradigm war. The conclusion drawn is that the current/next moment in qualitative research in education is one of methodological contestation, one that demands either complicity with or resistance to the government-sanctioned resurgence of the hegemony of positivism.” Abstract taken from above site.
1. In the Handbook of Qualitative Research, Denzin and Lincoln present the idea that qualitative research has developed in a linear fashion that presents a fairly orderly progression. Wright believes that the current state of qualitative research is in what he calls quite a state. He sees considerable politicization and a return by some, to a more traditional viewpoint. He speaks of either resistance to, or compliance with, this traditional viewpoint. Now that you are at the end of your journey—or perhaps really at the beginning of your journey, how would you characterize the current state of things?
2. I see this as a time of growth and openness. Do you think there is evidence to support my position?