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Qualitative Research Methods in Writing Studies

This course introduces students to some of the core methods of study design, data collection, and analysis in the study of writing. Students in this course will have the opportunity to design, perform and analyze data from a small-scale pilot study related to their area of interest.

In the first unit, we will review some of the core qualitative methodologies in writing studies, including (but not limited to) ethnography, participant observation, literacy history interviews, and discourse analysis. To this end, we will read work about these methodologies and work that takes up these methodologies including work by Theresa Lillis, Paul Prior, Shirley Brice Heath, Beverly Moss, John Duffy, James Gee, and others. Students will also present in groups on a methodology of their choice.

In the second unit, we will begin to develop our own research projects. In addition to reading some sample study proposals, we will read work on developing strong research questions, designing study methods, and aligning methods with those research questions, including work from Herrington and Curtis, Bob Broad, Deborah Brandt, Haas & Takayoshi, and Peter Smagorinksy. At the end of this unit, students will compose a proposal for their pilot study.

In the third unit, students will collect and analyze their data. We will read work on collecting and analyzing qualitative data including work from Kathy Charmaz, James Gee, and Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw. We will also practice grounded theory data analysis with sample qualitative data. At the end of this unit, students will report on their methods and findings and point toward directions for future study.