This course is about the “doing” of qualitative research as a practical, ethically regulated engagement in “knowing, doing and being”. Investigating, interrogating and interpreting values, meanings and purposes unspoken and taken largely for granted in the course and conduct of everyday life is what distinguishes the study of human action from all other forms of inquiry. It is because questions of value, significance and agency form the core of such inquiry that, for qualitative researchers, epistemological and ethical issues converge in the very idea of what it is to conduct educational research. To that end, we will look both at the centre, and at the edges of what counts as a “methodology” and thereby, “research”.
Class activities will provide a guided apprenticeship into basic research practices, including observations, ethical review, fieldnotes, interviews, data interpretation, analysis, reporting and write-up. Students will read exemplary research studies and methodological approaches, and will propose and initiate a study of their own. Questions such as “What kind of story does this research tell?”, “Whose story is told, how, by whom, and for whose benefit?” and “How can qualitative research pursue ‘validity’?” will guide a comprehensive inquiry into contemporary qualitative research methodologies, methods and processes in education. We will also consider ways in which research practices are technologically reconfigured, and how this technological re-mediation impacts qualitative research methods and practices.