Introduction to Qualitative Research, Fall 2009, 2010 & 2011 (Teaching Fellow)



How does one collect, analyze, and write about data collected from a small number of people who were neither randomly sampled nor numerous enough to serve as the basis for statistically significant generalizations? What kinds of claims can one make based on this kind of data, and what kinds of claims can one not make? How does one handle research design when one is not sure of what might be discovered in the research? What kinds of questions are best answered with qualitative research? Which specific qualitative research methods are best for answering which questions? This course will teach students to answer these questions by providing a survey of various qualitative research methods and by walking them through the process of formulating a research question; selecting the kinds of research participants and qualitative research methods that can answer the research question; collecting qualitative data to answer the question; analyzing the data; finding the proper fit between theories, data, and practice; writing an academic paper based on the data; and presenting the findings to the class. Students will also read and discuss books and articles about the practice and epistemology of qualitative research, do close readings of published work based on qualitative research, and discuss their own and others' projects in small workshops. Each student will write a paper based on a small research project (on a topic of the student's own choosing) and develop the skills to understand and evaluate qualitative research.