New York UNIVERSITY (2018)
Professor Anne L. Washington, PhD
The “Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry” course introduces a suite of strategies for analyzing data generated in naturalistic settings. Together these approaches are known to social science and humanities scholars as qualitative research. Topics may include ethnography, case study, content analysis, phenomenology, hermeneutics, analytic induction, narrative, or historical approaches to inquiry. The course will combine hands-on practice with discussions about qualitative research published in anthropology, education, cultural studies, history, management, technology studies, and sociology.
This is the first in the qualitative series offered at Steinhardt. It is geared toward first or second year doctoral students who have not yet begun their dissertation research but plan to use some qualitative methods in their work. This course is the prerequisite to the more advanced and specialized qualitative methods courses offered in the school. This is an introduction to the range of methods that students might employ if they are interested in researching a question that lends itself to a qualitative approach.
Students will build skills in designing, generating, and analyzing data collected in naturalistic settings. Each student will know how to ask questions, conduct interviews, and listen for data. We will consider the benefits and constraints of computer-assisted technologies while also learning how they relate to traditional tools. Because social inquiry is open to interpretation, we will learn how to support credible conclusions with specific instances while recognizing other perspectives.
Our main task is to practice research skills weekly leading us towards the design of a qualitative research study. The assessment and assignment structure is designed to gradually practice and reflect on this form of inquiry. As a class, we will develop participant observation and fieldwork skills. Homework is the basis for many of our classroom experiences. This gives students the opportunity to refine their own research practices incrementally. We will share experiences, tips, suggestions, questions and frustrations in class together. Aside from the opportunity to get to know your classmates better, it provides us a tangible experience of what it means to study others and to be studied. A commitment to experience is an essential aspect of this course and this method of inquiry.
Qualitative inquiry provides researchers ways to systematically examine ambiguous real-world problems. Ethics, credibility and personal awareness are essential tools of the qualitative researcher. Students will increase their ability to conduct dependable research through self-reflection, consistency and well-supported reasoning. This class gives students the experience necessary for advanced classes or future research in naturalistic settings.