Course Title: Advanced Research In Higher Ed: Qualitative Theory and Design

        Instructor Professor J. Douglas Toma
       Institution University of Missouri-Kansas City
Office Number 816.235.2451
E-mail address


Our overall purpose, this semester and next, is explore the various aspects of qualitative research. Our focus over the summer will be the theory and design of qualitative work. In fall, we will focus on the gathering, analysis, and interpretation of qualitative data. At the end of the two course sequence, you should not only be comfortable in any sophisticated discussion of qualitative research methods, but should be able to make meaningful contributions to it.

The course should also spur you to begin to consider your own stances, objectives, and voice as a researcher. It is essential that you become familiar with the various ontological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions that guide research in the social sciences. At the end of our work together, you should have the information necessary to make an informed choice about the inquiry paradigm that conforms with your basic assumptions about what we can learn about the world and how we can learn it.

Another of our foci over the next two semesters will be developing your ability to sell and defend your research method. Even though qualitative work has gained increasing acceptance in the social sciences, qualitative researchers must continue to take great care to recognize and underscore the inherent differences between qualitative and quantitative work. Qualitative research is not simply non-quantitative research, as some would portray it. There is a process and rigor in qualitative research that parallels the methods and practices accepted with quantitative work. What you need to remember is that different types of standards are appropriate for both approaches. Your duty as a researcher working in an emerging methodological area will always be to educate readers about the assumptions underlying qualitative work and the standards under which it is appropriately assessed.

Throughout both semesters, you will work on a draft dissertation methods chapter. The idea here is that you will be applying what you learn to your own work. In other words, your task will be to translate each new area that we explore into a section of your eventual methods chapter. At the end of the two course sequence, your methods section should be ready to insert as a chapter in your dissertation. Remember that you will need to work with your dissertation committee chair through the process of developing a methodological approach for your dissertation work as well as in constructing a research question. One danger in teaching a methods course is that I become your shadow dissertation chair, taking over the responsibility for guiding you through developing a research question and research plan for your dissertation. This is not my intention. Involving your own chair in your work in our class is essential, therefore, if you are going to build the relationship with him or her necessary to efficiently and effectively completing the doctoral dissertation.

It should be obvious by now that the course is much more focused on qualitative approaches than quantitative methods. The course will be relevant to students interested in experimental or statistical dissertations -- particularly in relation to identifying the elements of a good research design, defining research questions, and developing instruments -- but additional coursework in these areas will be necessary. Also, students doing qualitative work would benefit from a course specifically on qualitative interviewing or other advanced qualitative methods courses, as well as some introduction to quantitative research.

Finally, the course will be geared to the student who has a firm idea of his or her dissertation topics and some idea about how he or she wants to approach it methodologically. We will move rather quickly through material that will be essential in your later dissertation study design, data gathering, and analysis and interpretation. Having your own work to relate to the ideas that we are covering in class will allow you to appreciate the material in a more significant and lasting manner. You should wait to enroll in the course if you are still developing your dissertation topic. You will get much more from the course if you can apply the material to your own work as we move along.


A. Day, Time, and Place

Our first class meeting is set for Friday, May 30 at noon in room 336, School of Education building. The next two meetings are scheduled for Thursday, June 19 and Thursday, June 26. Early in the semester, we will determine times and places to meet for the remaining class sessions.

B. Enrollment

Given the advanced and focused nature of the course, enrollment is by my prior approval.

C. 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 will 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 are:

816-235-2451, office 816-235-5270, fax

My electronic mail address is:


A. Texts

We will use four texts in the two semester course:

B. Coursepack

There are also several required readings collected in a coursepack. These will be made available to you on the first day of class.


A. Draft Methods Section

Throughout both semesters, you will work on a discussion of your methods appropriate for insertion into your dissertation as a chapter. As discussed above, the idea here is that you will be applying what you learn about each new area that we cover within your own work. The methods section should evolve, therefore, as we move through the two courses. Prior to our last meeting during Fall semester, you will distribute what your have done on your research methods section to the class. At the last meeting in Fall, you will give a 15 minute presentation to the class on your research questions and chosen methodological and theoretical approach. Your classmates will critique your work.

B. Discussion Co-Facilitator

Depending on the number of students who enroll in the course, you will be responsbile for co-facilitating the discussion for one or more of our sessions. The role of the co-facilitators is, first and foremost, to carefully read and understand the material. You must also come to class with several broad, thematic-type questions to spur the class discussion. Building around these questions, you need to prepare a short outline of the critical concepts in the readings to distribute to the members of the class. Please go beyond simply including headings and discuss various items in paragraphs. In other words, this is a paragraph outline of the topics in the readings. Finally, as facilitator you will develop an in-class activity that assesses other studentsŐ understanding of the readings. Please do not hesitate to be creative in preparing your session or sessions. This is going to involve some work, so plan ahead!

C. Report on Qualitative Technique

During our next to last two meetings, each of you will prepare a short presentation on a specific qualitative technique. Each is represented by a reading or set of readings in sections H and I, below. The presentations should run roughly 15 minutes and include a three to five page report summarizing the main points of the technique, drawing on both the assigned reading and no fewer than five outside sources.

D. Electronic Mail

Everyone must obtain an electronic mail account from the University and send me a message at the address listed above. You can reach UMKC Computing Services at 816-235-1480 for information on establishing an e-mail account. I will occasionally post messages about changes in class meetings, assignments, etc. to your address so it is essential that you not only get on e-mail but check it regularly.

E. Attendance and Behavior

I expect that you will contact me, preferably by electronic mail, if you will not be able to attend any class meeting. I also expect your adherence to UM System and UMKC policies on plagiarism and student academic conduct. Finally, although I recognize that several of you are working full-time outside of the classroom and have several demands upon your time, I will allow extensions on any deadlines only in the case of extreme hardship.


I will use two principal criteria in determining your course grade. The first is the quality of your contributions in class and your regular class attendance. The second is level of sophistication that you display in your written work. Both are a product of your attention to the assigned readings. I encourage you to read carefully and bring any questions that you might have to the attention of the class.


A. Introduction and Overview Friday, May 30, noon

B. Inquiry Paradigms and Postpositivist Thought Thursday, June 19, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Coursepack: Lincoln and Guba, Postpositivism and the Naturalist Paradigm, 25-46 Guba and Lincoln, Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research, 105-117 Conrad, Mediations on the Ideology of Inquiry in Higher Education, 151-67 Toma, Alternative Inquiry Paradigms, Faculty Cultures, etc.

C. Critical and Interpretive Inquiry Thursday, June 26, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Coursepack: 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

Assignment: In-class activity designated by co-facilitators.

D. Epistemology date and time to be determined

Readings: Coursepack: 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

Assignment: In-class activity designated by co-facilitators.

E. Qualitative Research date and time to be determined

Readings: Coursepack: Crowson, Qualitative Research Methods in Higher Education, 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

Assignment: In-class activity designated by co-facilitators.

F. Focusing and Bounding date and time to be determined



In-class activity designated by Facilitators.

G. Cases and Standards time to be determined


Coursepack: 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 Qualitative Research, 435-60

Assignment: In-class activity designated by co-facilitators.

H. Qualitative Approaches time to be determined

Readings: Marshall and Rossman: Chapter 4, 78-107 (read by everyone)

Coursepack: (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, Ethnography and Participant Observation, 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 Experience and Narrative Inquiry, 287-312 Smith, Biographical Method, 286-305

6. Phenomenology: Holstein and Gubrium, Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology, etc., 262-72

7. Ethnomethodology: Holstein and Gubrium, Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology, 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

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


Familiarize yourself with chapters in Gall, Borg, and Gall on uantitative research. Your statistics courses will focus more on technique than design. You need to know the other options out there.


I. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW See previous version of syllabus.


We will meet fom 4:30 to 7:15 on selected Mondays. The room assignment is to be determined.

See previous version of syllabus for other information.


We will be using one additional text: Spradley, James P. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

See previous version of syllabus for other information.


See previous version of syllabus.


See previous version of syllabus.


I. Quantitative Data August 25

Readings: Gall, Borg, and Gall: Chapters 5-9 (skim, as needed)

J. Quantitative Design September 8

Readings: Gall, Borg, and Gall: Chapters 10-13 (skim, as needed)

K. Interviewing September 15

Readings: Coursepack: Fontana and Frey, Interviewing: The Art of Science Mischler, Research Interviewing, pp. 1-34 Briggs, Learning to Ask, pp. 1-30 Spradley: Chapters 1-3 (pp. 3-40).

L. Collecting Qualitative Data September 29 Readings: Coursepack: 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 the Crossroads Clandinin and Connelly, Personal Experience Methods Spradley: Steps 1-3 (pp. 41-77)

K. Recording and Organizing Data October 13 Readings: Coursepack: 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, read as needed) Chapter 7 and 8, Across-Case Displays, 172-237 (skim, read as needed) 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 October 20 Readings: Coursepack: 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

Spradley: Steps 4-9 (pp. 78-172)

M. Creating the Text October 27

Readings: Coursepack: 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

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

N. Drawing Conclusions November 10 Readings: Coursepack: 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 To Be Determined


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