Special Topics and Thesis Exploration

Education 690
Fall, 1998 and Winter, 1999

School of Education
University of Missouri-Kansas City

J. Douglas Toma
Assistant Professor
School of Education



I.          Introduction and Overview

The course is a continuation of Education 589DS, Introduction to Doctoral Studies, offered in Summer, 1998.  Students who participated in the Summer, 1998 course should have a clear sense of the:

·        basics of doctoral study in education;

·        theories and processes of scholarly research, and

·        current state of research in the discipline and how to find and analyze it. 

In addition, students should have an initial idea of their research interest, as well as what others have written around the question and what research methods are available for addressing it. 

Upon the successful completion of the two course Education 690 sequence, students will have a firm foundation for their dissertation research and will be prepared to complete and pass the comprehensive examination.  They will also have a much greater appreciation of the intersections between research and professional practice. 

The two-course sequence will have two foci.  The first will be to prepare students for the successful completion of the comprehensive examination and dissertation in a structured manner.  Throughout in both semester, we will regularly review how everyone is readying himself or herself for the examination.  In our meetings and e-mail discussions, will pay particular attention to developing the skills needed in the following areas:

·        definition of a research question in consultation with the dissertation committee chair;

·        review of the research literature on topics related to the topic;

·        identification and use of a theoretical framework to organize addressing the question; and

·        decision on and understanding of a method for answering it. 

Since there is considerable overlap between and among dissertation committee members for students enrolling in the course, students will be encouraged to take the comprehensive examination on the same schedule.

The capstone of the course will be for students to present their synthesis of the extensive reading that they have completed on their given topics to a group of peers for their critical review by the end of the second semester.  The process will require the same skills involved in writing a successful comprehensive examination and effective literature review chapter in the dissertation.  The feedback from the class should prove invaluable in making final preparations for the comprehensive examination and organizing efforts for the dissertation.  Students who are well-prepared for the presentation will be well-positioned to successfully complete the examination with maximum efficiency.  The presentation -- like the comprehensive examination -- is not only about the research topic that each student chooses to explore, but is about the topic in the context of everything else he or she has examined as a student in education administration or higher education.

The second purpose of the two course sequence will be to consider the intersections between research in educational administration and higher education and professional practice.  Coupled with their work on the own dissertations, students will engage in a sustained dialogue with each other, with other professionals, and scholars sharing their intellectual interests.  The dialogue will occur in regular class meetings and daily using electronic mail and the internet.  The three guiding questions for the dialogue will be: 

·        how does research enter into professional practice?

·        what is the quality of what comes in and how might it be improved? and

·        where are gaps in what we can know where research might be used to improve professional practice?

Students will draw on their own experiences and those they observe at their respective places of employment.  The purpose of the activity is to help students ground their research work in their professional experience, and vice versa.  There should not be a disconnect between the scholarly and professional life - the opposite should be the case - and the e-mail dialogue should help connect research and practice in meaningful ways for students.

The course will also serve the needs of other advanced doctoral-level students in Urban Leadership, provided they have a carefully considered a research topic and have began to review the research literature in their area.  All students enrolling in the 690 sequence will take the qualitative and quantitative research methods courses prescribed in their programs before taking the preliminary examination.  The size of the course will be limited to 12 students.

II.         General Information

A.         Dates, Times, and Place

During Fall, 1998 semester, we will meet on the following days at the Maple Woods Education Center.

Thursday, September 3, 4:30 - 7 p.m.

Friday, October 1, 4:30 - 7 p.m.

Friday, October 22, 4:30 - 7 p.m.

Friday, November 12, 4:30 - 7 p.m.

Friday, December 3, 4:30 - 7 p.m.

During Winter, 1999 semester, we will meet on the following days at the Maple Woods Education Center.

February 3, 430 - 715 pm

March 10, 430 - 715 pm

April 14, 430 - 715 pm

April  26, 430 - 930 pm

April 30, 430 - 930 pm

May 1, 9 am - 2 pm

During both semesters, we will schedule additional meetings either as an entire groups or within small groups as circumstances merit.

B.         Addresses and Telephone Numbers

You may reach me outside of class by visiting my office, via telephone, or through electronic mail.  My preference is that you contact me by e-mail, whenever possible.  I check for both voice and e-mail messages at least daily.  My office is located on the third floor of the School of Education in Suite 328 (Urban Leadership and Policy Studies).  My address is:

School of Education

University of Missouri-Kansas City

5100 Rockhill Road

Kansas City, Missouri  64110

My telephone numbers in Kansas City are:

816-235-2451, office

816-235-5270, fax

My UMKC electronic mail address is:


I also hold academic and research appointments at the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania.  I check my UMKC e-mail daily.  On Thursdays preceding class, as well as on class days, I check my voice mail frequently.  If it is necessary to contact me in Philadelphia, I may be reached at the Institute for Research on Higher Education at 215-898-4585 or at home at 215-634-7259.  My Penn e-mail address is toma@irhe.upenn.edu.

C.         Office Hours

I will hold office hours by appointment.  Please contact me via electronic mail to schedule an appointment.

III.        Text

There will be four required texts for the course:

Gall, M., Borg, W. and Gall, J. (1997).  Educational Research:  An Introduction, 6th Ed.  New York:  Longman.

Creswell, J. (1994).  Research Design:  Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Marshall, C. and Rossman, G. (1995).  Designing Qualitative Research, 2d Ed.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Miles M., and Huberman, M. (1994).  Qualitative Data Analysis:  An Expanded Sourcebook.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

We will discuss when and where you need to purchase these texts at our first class meeting.  There will also be several books and articles recommended or assigned for reading.  These will be announced in class.

IV.        Expectations and Evaluation

A.         Attendance and Behavior

All class meetings are mandatory and all deadines are firm.  Excused absences or extensions will be granted only in emergencies or upon notification two-months in advance for professional travel obligations.  Unexcused absences or habitual tardiness will be grounds for failure of the course and substantial delay in taking and completing the comprehensive examination.  Students who miss a class must arrange to have the session taped and must arrange to write a 7-10 page paper on the readings for that week.

Finally, I will enforce University of Missouri System and UMKC policies on plagiarism and student academic conduct.

B.         Class Participation and Evaluation

Your final grade will be determined by your:

1.         written work

2.         presentation

3.         class participation

4.         attention to reading 

I define participation broadly to include your careful attention to discussions, as well as your direct contributions to our discussions.  If you receive a grade lower than "B" at the conclusion on the presentations, you will be strongly discouraged from taking the comprehensive examination during Summer, 1998.

V.         Assignments and Expectations

A.         Dialogue

Over the course of the two semesters, all students will engage in a sustained dialogue with each other, with other professionals, and scholars sharing their intellectual interests.  I will moderate the discussion, which will occur in regular class meetings and daily using electronic mail and the internet. 

The three guiding questions for the dialogue will be: 

·        how does research enter into professional practice?

·        what is the quality of what comes in and how might it be improved? and

·        where are gaps in what we can know where research might be used to improve professional practice?

Students will draw on their own experiences and those they observe at their respective places of employment.

Students are expected to check electronic mail daily and contribute to the discussion regularly.  We will define ground rules for the electronic dialogue at the first class discussion session.

B.         Literature Review

In the Summer, 1998, you were required to submit a literature review on your topic.  Your task during Fall, 1998 and Winter, 1999 will be to expand and refine your work.  I will require that you submit drafts and revisions of your literature review at regular intervals.  These intervals will be determined based on the consensus of the class.  It is essential that you break your overall topic into subtopics and draw on multiple sources to support and illustrate the argument in each subtopic.  (The generous use of headings is strongly encouraged.)  You will also need to demonstrate that you have identified an argument or set of arguments to organize and connect your review of the literature.  In other words, what general points or concepts connect the research literature, as a whole.

C.         Question

While working on your literature review, you should be refining a set of research questions to narrow and bound your research.  We will discuss the process of generating research questions during our class and e-mail discussions, and I will require that you submit drafts and revisions of your questions at regular intervals.  The questions should evolve into your comprehensive examination question.

D.         Presentation

You are responsible for preparing a two hour presentation on your research topic, drawn from the material in your literature review.  The presentation can be in any form that you deem appropriate.  It will be evaluated on the: 

·        sophistication of your overall argument (you will need to identify and highlight key themes and concepts and repeatedly tie your overall discussion back to them);

·        depth of substantive information presented;

·        overall clarity and effectiveness of your efforts; and

·        selection of background reading material assigned to the group.

In class on Thursday, April 14, you will distribute a packet of background readings to the class, making one copy each member of the group. The packet will contain:  (1) a 3-5 page draft of your comprehensive question; and (2) at least 60 pages from key articles on your topic (these articles must be of a scholarly nature).  Please number the pages in your packet.

E.         Comprehensive Examination

Students are strongly advised to take the comprehensive examination with the format discussed in the Appendix.  We believe the format to be the most telling demonstration of your accumulated knowledge and the best way to position you for the efficient and effective completion of your dissertation.

My expectation is that you have been working on collecting and synthesizing research literature on your topic during Fall, 1998 and Winter, 1999 semesters.  During the months preceding the research presentations, I will require you to submit drafts and revisions of an outline of your literature review.  Your review of the literature -- what others have written on your topic -- will become a core element of your comprehensive examination, as will your research question and the research design that you generate in your Education 608 course in Winter, 1999.

VI.        Readings and Class Assignments

Articles and books will be assigned for each class session and regularly to guide our electronic mail discussions.  The following topics will be discussed and the following readings will be assigned.  The topic and readings for each particular class discussion or e-mail dialogue will be announced.

A.         Introduction and Overview

B.         Inquiry Paradigms and Postpositivist Thought



Lincoln and Guba, Postpositivism and the Naturalist Paradigm, 25-46

Guba and Lincoln, Competing Paradigms in Qual. Research, 105-117

Conrad, Mediations on the Ideology of Inquiry in Higher Ed., 151-67

Toma, Alternative Inquiry Paradigms, Faculty Cultures, etc.


Chapter 1, 1-19

Gall, Borg, and Gall:

            Chapter 1, 1-15

Marshall and Rossman:

Chapter 1, 1-14

C.         Critical and Interpretive Inquiry



Nielsen, Feminist Research Methods, 91-111

Schwandt, Constructivist, Interpretist Approaches, 118-37

Kinchlow and McLaren, Rethinking Critical Theory, 138-57

Lather, Research as Praxis, 131-50

                        Gall, Borg, and Gall:

                                    Chapter 2, 43-77 (read for background)

D.         Epistemology



Krieger, Beyond "Subjectivity," 405-16

Olesen, Feminisms and Models of Qualitative Research, 158-74

Fine, Working the Hyphens, 70-82

Lincoln and Guba, Ethics:  The Failure of Positivist Science, 417-28

Punch, Politics and Ethics in Qualitative Research, 83-98

                        Gall, Borg, and Gall:

                                    Chapter 1, 16-38

                                    Chapter 3, 81-108 (read for background)

E.         Qualitative Research



Crowson, Qualitative Research Methods in Higher Educ., 167-208

Denzin and Lincoln, Entering the Field of Qualitative Research, 1-18

Hamilton, Traditions, Preferences, and Postures in Applied . . ., 60-69

Janesick, The Dance of Qualitative Research Design, 209-19

            Morse, Designing Funded Qualitative Research, 220-35


Chapter 8, 116-42

Chapter 9, 143-72

Chapter 10, 173-91

Gall, Borg, and Gall:

            Chapter 15, 591-641

Miles and Huberman:

The Nature of Qualitative Research, 9-12

            Linking Qualitative and Quantitative, 40-43

F.         Focusing and Bounding



Chapter 2, 20-39

Chapter 3, 41-55

            Chapter 4, 56-68

            Chapter 5, 69-80

Chapter 6, 81-104

Chapter 7, 105-115

Gall, Borg, and Gall:

            Chapter 4, 113-161

Marshall and Rossman:

Chapter 2, 15-37

Chapter 3, 38-49

Chapter 7, 142-152


            Miles and Huberman:

                        Focusing and Bounding the Collection of Data, 16-27

G.         Cases and Standards



LeCompte and Goetz, Problems of Reliability and Validity, 429-56

Lather, Issues of Validity in Openly Ideological Research, 457-78

Zaruba, Toma, and Stark, Criteria Used for Qual. Research, 435-60

Gall, Borg, and Gall:

            Chapter 6, 215-241

Marshall and Rossman:

Chapter 3, 50-77

Chapter 6, 120-141

Miles and Huberman:

            Sampling; Instrumentation, 27-39

Study Management Issues, 43-48

Tactics for Testing and Confirming Findings, 262-277

H.         Qualitative Approaches


            Marshall and Rossman:

                        Chapter 4, 78-107 (read by everyone)


                        (each student prepares one topic)

1.         Ethnography:

                        Wolcott, Ethnographic Research in Education, 231-52

            Anderson, Critical Ethnography, 209-30

2.         Participant Observation:

            Atkinson and Hammersley, Ethnogr. and Particip. Observ., 248-261

            Reason, Three Approaches to Participative Inquiry, 324-39


3.         Grounded Theory:

            Conrad, Grounded Theory, 279-86

Strauss and Corbin, Grounded Theory Methodology, 273-85

4.         Case Studies:

            Stake, Case Studies, 236-47

Whitt and Kuh, Team Approach to Multi-Institution Studies, 253-66

Conrad, Positioned Subject Approach, 267-78

Gall, Borg, and Gall, Case Study Research (Chapter 14), 543-586

5.         Narrative Inquiry:

            Connelly and Clandinin, Stories of Exper. and Narr. Inquiry, 287-312

Smith, Biographical Method, 286-305


6.         Phenomenology:

            Holstein and Gubrium, Phenomenology, Ethnometh., etc., 262-72

7.         Ethnomethodology:

            Holstein and Gubrium, Phenomenology, Ethnometh., etc., 262-72

8.         Historical Approaches:

            Tuchman, Historical Social Science, 306-23

Gall, Borg, and Gall, Historical Research (Chapter 16), 643-73

9.         Clinical Approaches:

Miller and Crabtree, Clinical Research, 340-52


                        Prepare a three to five page summary of your approach, using and citing five other sources

I.          Quantitative Data



                        Gall, Borg, and Gall:

                                    Chapters 5-9 (skim, as needed)

J.         Quantitative Design



                        Gall, Borg, and Gall:

                                    Chapters 10-13 (skim, as needed)

K.         Interviewing




Fontana and Frey, Interviewing:  The Art of Science

Mischler, Research Interviewing, pp. 1-34

Briggs, Learning to Ask, pp. 1-30


            Chapters 1-3 (pp. 3-40).

L.         Collecting Qualitative Data



            Lareau, Common Problems in Field Work:  A Personal Essay

Adler and Adler, Observational Techniques

Hodder, Interpretation of Document and Material Culture

Harper, On the Authority of the Image:  Visual Methods at Crossroads

Clandinin and Connelly, Personal Experience Methods


            Steps 1-3 (pp. 41-77)

K.         Recording and Organizing Data



            Hammersley and Atkinson, Recording and Organizing Data

            Marshall and Rossman, Chapter 5, 108-119

            Miles and Huberman, Data Managment and Analysis Methods

            Miles and Huberman:

            Chapter 5 and 6, Within-Case Displays, 90-171 (skim)                 Chapter 7 and 8, Across-Case Displays, 172-237 (skim)

                        Chapter 9, Matrix Displays (skim, read as needed)

                        Chapter 10, Tactics for Generating Meaning, 245-260

                                    Chapter 11, Ethical Issues in Analysis, 288-297

L.         Analyzing Data



                        Fetterman, Finding Your Way Through the Forest:  Analysis

                        Manning and Cullum-Swan, Narrative, Content, and Semiotic Analysis

                        Altheide and Johnson, Criteria for Assessing Interpretive Validity


            Miles and Huberman:

                        Chapter 4, Early Steps in Analysis, 50-89

                        Chapter 10, Documentation, 280-286


                        Steps 4-9 (pp. 78-172)

M.        Creating the Text



Atkinson, Supervising the Text

Fetterman, Recording the Miracle:  Writing

            Creswell, Chapter 11, Scholarly Writing, 193-206

            Richardson, Writing:  A Method of Inquiry

Miles and Huberman:

            Chapter 12, Producing Reports, 298-306


                        Steps Steps 10-12 (pp. 173-216)

N.         Drawing Conclusions



                        Denzin, The Art and Politics of Interpretation

                        Rist, Influencing the Policy Process With Qualitative Research

            Miles and Huberman:

            Chapter 10, Standards for the Quality of Conclusions, 277-280

O.         Student Presentations

In our effort to offer a comprehensive listing of syllabi to the Higher Education community, we encourage your contributions to our collection. Submit your syllabi using our submission form, or via e-mail at ForestJ@UStrategies.com.