Education 201: Winter 1999 [CRN# 60099]

Qualitative Research in Education



Instructor: Jon Wagner Office hours: T 12:301:30 // Th 1:30-2:30

Class meetings: Th 3:30-6:30 pm Room: 2366 Academic Surge


Prerequisites: Graduate student status or consent of instructor. Students should have some familiarity with concepts and issues associated with social, cultural, or psychological studies of education and schooling.

Course Goals: This course is designed to help students develop a critical understanding of educational research strategies involving direct observation, interviews and the systematic analysis of documents and artifacts. Students will examine these strategies in terms of their contributions to the study of education and schooling and their implications for educational theory, policy and practice. Attention will be given to collecting, recording, organizing and displaying data for purposes of analysis, presentation, and policy guidance. Special attention will also be given to relationships within qualitative research studies among educational researchers, the subjects of educational research and educational policy makers and practitioners.

Course format: The course meets for one, 3-hour session each week. Class sessions involve discussion of assigned readings, lectures by the instructor, presentations by students, in-class writing assignments, the review of out-of-class writing assignments, and in-class exercises. In-class activities are complemented by field work assignments that involve field observation and interviewing.

Reading: Required texts for the course include: Sharan Merriam (1998), Qualitative research and case study applications in education, and Howard Becker, (1998)Tricks of the trade: How to think about your research while you’re doing it. In addition to these two texts, students are required to read a collection of articles and book selections drawn from the extensive literature on qualitative educational research.

Written work: In addition to numerous in-class writing exercises, students are expected to complete the following out-of-class writing assignments: two brief (1-2 page) discussion notes/commentaries on the assigned reading; fieldnotes from one 2-hour field observation; a transcription of one in-depth interview; a "summary/log" for a second in-depth interview; a letter to research subjects; and a proposal outline for further research. Students also are expected to organize their notes and transcripts as a "research project work file."

Research activities: This course provides students with direct experience in collecting, organizing, and coding documents; making field observations; preparing, annotating and coding field notes; and conducting, transcribing, logging, and annotating interviews. Field work assignments will require students to examine some themes and research questions common to the class as a whole. However, students can complete these assignments in settings of their own choosing. Students also are encouraged to incorporate their field work for this course within more long-term studies of their own design.

Exams: There are no exams on the course reading. There is no final exam for the course.

Grading: Students who satisfactorily complete all required assignments receive a grade of at least a ‘B-.’ Students receive higher grades in recognition of the exceptional quality of their work on individual assignments and their overall contributions to the class. The following weights will be used in determining grades for the course above the level of satisfactory: 60% = research project work file (including field notes, transcripts, etc.); 20% = commentaries on course readings; 20% = draft proposal for further research.

Student evaluations: All students will participate in both a mid-quarter and end of the term course evaluation.


Out-of-Class Writing Assignments



Estimated hours required

Reading commentaries (2 @ 1-2 page @ 1 or so hour each)


Draft research proposal/outline


Transcription of first interview


Notes of field observation


Log of second interview


Annotations to field notes, interviews, and prior annotations, including final preparation of the research project file and data source index


Letter to research subjects




Note: The 24 hours required for out-of-class writing assignments does not include the reading, interviewing and field observations on which the writing assignments are based. You should estimate another 6 hours during the quarter for interviewing and observing and 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours a week for reading.

Reading commentaries: Students will prepare commentaries on the assigned readings for two class sessions of their choice, but at least two students must prepare commentaries for each class session. Commentaries examine one or more of the case studies assigned for the course in terms of one or more of the "methods" or "theory" readings for the assigned week. Commentaries need to be distributed to other students during the week before or the week after readings are discussed in class.

Proposal/outline for further research: Drawing on data collected through field assignments, readings, and in-class analysis, each student will prepare a prospectus or proposal outline for one or more studies that an individual field researcher could complete over the course of 9 -24 months. Students are encouraged to use this assignment to explore and design potential dissertation and thesis projects. Each person will give a 10 minute presentation of this proposal/outline during the final class session.

Research project work file: Students are expected to organize their field work products as a "research project work file" that includes at least the following sections:

(1) A data source index: A table or chart that displays and categorizes the different data sources and commentaries that you have developed in connection with your research project for this class.

(2) Research questions: A list, table or chart that includes the research questions you have considered pursuing in connection with your field work.

(3) Unedited text documents: field notes, transcripts, and interview logs.

(4) Annotated text documents: field notes, transcripts, and interview logs: A second copy of what appears in (2) that includes your annotations.

(5) Annotated annotations: (a) summaries, charts, graphs, notes, memos, reflections and commentaries about your project that you have developed in examining data collected through field work, or (b) related readings or annotated segments of unedited notes, transcripts, etc. that that you think have special significance to your study.

(6) Correspondence with Research Subjects: The letter(s) you've prepared to the individuals you interviewed or observed.


Education 201 Winter 1999 -- Reading


Required Books -- From UCD Bookstore

Becker, Howard. (1998). Tricks of the trade: How to think about your research while you’re doing it. Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press.

Merriam, Sharan. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Material in Course Reader (Available From Classical Notes)

Theory & Reflections on Methdology & Theory

Becker, Howard S., Geer, Blanche; Hughes, Everett C. and Strauss, Anselm. (1961). Perspective, culture and organization, pp. 33-48, in Boys in White : Student culture in medical school. Chicago: University of Chicago

Nespor, Jan and Barylske, Judith. Narrative Discourse and teacher knowledge. American Educational Research Journal, 28(4), 805-823.

Patton, Michael. (1990). Particularly appropriate qualitative applications, in Qualitative evaluation and research methods, SAGE, pp 92-141.

Ragin, Charles C. (1992). "Casing" and the process of social inquiry, in Ragin and Becker, (Eds.). What is a case? London: Cambridge University Press.

Strauss, Anselm L. (1987). Codes and coding, pp. 55-81 in Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: Cambridge Univ Press.

Weitzman, Eben and Miles, Mathew. (1995). fromComputer programs for analyzing qualitative data.


Selections from Qualitative Studies of Education and Schooling

Davis, Janet. (1972). Teachers, kids and conflict: Ethnography of a junior high school, pp. 103-120, in James P. Spradley and David W. McCurdy, The cultural experience: Ethnography in a complex society. Chicago: Science Research Associates.

Doyle, Jean. (1972). Helpers, officers and lunchers: Ethnography of a third-grade class, pp. 147-156, in James P. Spradley and David W. McCurdy, The cultural experience: Ethnography in a complex society. Chicago:

Dyson, Anne Hawes. (1997). from Writing superheroes: Contemporary childhood, popular culture, and classroom literacy. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gartrell, Nadine. (1991) Coming together: An interactive model of schooling. pp. 203-220 in Burawoy (ED.) Ethnography Unbound. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Grant, Gerald. (1986). from The world we created at Hamilton High. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

Heath, Shirley Brice. (1983). from Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. NY: Cambridge Univ Press.

Hurst, Leslie. (1991) Mr. Henry makes a deal: Negotiated teaching in a junior high school. pp. 183-202 in Burawoy (ED.) Ethnography Unbound. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Lareau, Annette. (1989). Common problems in field work: A personal essay, pp. 225-242 in Home advantage. Philadelphia, PA: Falmer Press, pp. 225-242.

Nespor, Jan. (1997). from Tangled up in school: Politics, space, bodies, and signs in the educational process. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Parrott, Sue. (1972). Games children play: Ethnography of s second-grade recess, pp. 207-220, in James P. Spradley and David W. McCurdy, The cultural experience: Ethnography in a complex society. Chicago: Science Research Associates.

Peshkin, Alan. (1986). from God’s choice: The total world of a fundamentalist Christian school. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Sadker, David and Myra. (1994). Missing in interaction, pp 42-76 in Failing at fairness: How our schools cheat girls. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Thorne, Barrie. (1993). from Gender play: Girls and boys in school. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ Press.


EDU 201

Supplementary Reading List re: Qualitative Research in Education



Berg, Bruce L. (1995). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences, Second Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Eisner, Eliot and Peshkin, Alan. (Eds.). (1990). Qualitative inquiry in education: The continuing debate. New York: Teachers College Press.

Eisner, Elliot W. (1985). The art of educational evaluation: A personal view. London: Falmer Press.

Erickson, Frederick. (1986). Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In Merlin Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching: Third edition. New York: Macmillan.

Geertz, Clifford. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Glaser, B. and Strauss, Anselm L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine

Green, Judith and Wallat, Cynthia. (1981). Ethnography and langague in educational settings. Norwood, NJ: Ablex

LeCompte, Margaret D. and Preissle, Judith. (1993). Ethnography and qualitative design in educational research, Second edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

LeCompte, Margaret D., Millroy, Wendy L., and Preissle, Judith. (Eds). (1992). The handbook of qualitative research in education. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Lincoln, Yvonna S., and Guba, Egon G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE

Lofland, John. (1971). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitataive observations and analysis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Lofland, John. (1976). Doing social life: The qualitative study of human interaction in natural settings. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Miles, Matthew B., and Huberman, A. Michael. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods, Second Edition. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Patton, Michael. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods, (Beverly Hills, CA; SAGE)

Ragin, Charles and Becker, Howard. (Eds.). What is a case? Cambride, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Schatzman, Leonard, and Strauss, Anselm L. (1973). Field research: Strategies for a natural sociology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Spindler, George. (1982). Doing the ethnography of schooling. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland

Strauss, Anselm. (1991). Qualitative analysis for social scientiests. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge.

Tesch, Renata. (1990). Qualitative research: Analysis types and software tools. London: Falmer.

Van Maanen, John (Ed.). (1985) Varieties of qualitative research. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE

Van Maanen, John. (1988). Tales of the Field. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weitzman, Eben A. and Miles, Matthew B. (1995). Computer programs for qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Whyte, William Foote. (1984). Learning from the field: A guide from experience. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Wolcott, Harry F. (1990). Writing up qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE. (90 pages)