This is an introductory research course focusing especially on interpretive and critical approaches to social science and educational research, what is often called qualitative research. There are no prerequisites for this course so it is appropriate for both masters and doctoral students who are making an initial foray into qualitative research. As an introductory course, the purpose is to explore philosophical and practical aspects of research that will help students in deciding if this research approach ‘works’ for them and to open the door to more advanced course work in interpretive and critical research.
The course begins with a brief philosophical introduction to the foundational ideas in post-positivism and interpretivism that underpin alternative research methodologies and methods. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and come to new understandings about their epistemologies as they learn about interpretive research approaches. The course will provide hands-on activities in data collection and analysis methods that are generic for many interpretive research approaches—focusing especially on participant observation, individual and group in-depth interviewing, and material culture. While the course does not focus in depth on any specific methodology, students will be introduced to a wide range of methodological approaches. Other topics such as ethics and politics of research will discussed, particularly in relation to qualitative research. By reading exemplary examples of interpretive and critical research studies, students will be exposed to models for excellent research within this tradition.