Qualitative Methodology

This 8-week course began November 18, 2014. The instructor for RES/715 was Linda Amankwaa, Ph.D.

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of qualitative research approaches and the application to organizational inquiry. Various methods for data collection and analyses will be discussed including ethnography, grounded theory, case studies, discourse analysis, and phenomenology.

Course Competencies

  • Competency A: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of qualitative methods and their applications to different types of research problems within organizations.
  • Competency B: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of qualitative research design including ethnography, grounded theory, case studies, discourse analysis, and phenomenology. Describe how these designs differ and apply their appropriateness to different types of organizational problems.
  • Competency C: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of qualitative data collection and data analysis procedures commonly used in organizational research, and evaluate their appropriateness to different types of qualitative research designs and data.
  • Competency D: Coordinate the principles of sorting, organizing, and indexing qualitative data manually and with computer-assisted models.
  • Competency E: Identify knowledge gaps in a selected subfield of research, synthesize relevant information, and formulate focused qualitative research questions to address these gaps to expand the body of knowledge.
  • Competency F: Demonstrate understanding of applied qualitative research in organizations and how the results of qualitative research can be used to support informed decision-making, policymaking, and programming.
  • Competency G: Recognize the importance of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research, including familiarity with seminal researchers in the field.
  • Competency H: Critique published qualitative research in your field of study.
  • Competency I: Demonstrate understanding of the ethical implications and human subjects’ policy, including familiarity with seminal researchers in the field.

The first two weeks of most doctoral programs are devoted to reading, however this was not one of those courses. We hit the ground running. The reading list for this course is listed at the bottom under references. Note that in addition to the required texts, there were a number of journal articles that were also required reading for each week.

  1. Foundations of Qualitative Research
  2. Overview of Qualitative Research
  3. Research Design
  4. Research Design (continued)
  5. Research Design Discussion
  6. Collection of Data and Analysis
  7. Collection of Data and Analysis (continued)
  8. Writing It Up


There were a number of assignments that required time and effort. However, I am just focusing on the papers. They were as follows:

  • Week 1: In week 1 we were to write a 700-word paper addressing qualitative versus quantitative research, as presented on pp. 17-20 of the Denzin & Lincoln text. Respond with your evaluation of Denzin & Lincoln’s comments, writing from a critical, philosophical, and scientific basis. I earned 5/5 on this paper.
  • Week 2: In week 2 we to select a current problem in higher education that has been studied with qualitative research. Then find three qualitative research articles within the last 5 years in peer-reviewed journals pertaining to exploring or describing a component of the problem. Then write a 1,050- to 1,400-word paper to discuss how the authors framed the problem, their rationale for selecting a qualitative method and design, and the degree to which the approach was appropriate and generated useful findings. How might you conduct a similar study in your higher education institution? Discuss any ethical concerns that were or were not addressed in the research. I struggled with this one and earned 3/5. My topic was adjunct faculty in higher education.
  • Week 3: In week 3 we were to select three peer-reviewed journal articles that incorporate a different qualitative research design, such as ethnography, grounded theory, case studies, discourse analysis, or phenomenology. Complete the UOPX Research and Design Matrix to identify the research design and evaluate its appropriateness for each article. I earned 4/5 on this paper.
  • Week 4: In week 4 we were had to go to the problem list on the Electronic Reserve Readings page. Select a current problem facing higher education from the list. Review the articles provided for the problem. Your response is the basis for the Peer Review and Interview Analysis Report assignments. Make sure the problem is applicable to all assignments. Then we selected one of the following qualitative research designs for the problem: ethnography, grounded theory, case study, discourse analysis, or phenomenology. Create one to three research questions to guide the study. Write a 1,050- to 1,400-word paper that outlines your research problem, research design, rationale, and research questions. In addition, provide an overview of our conceptual or theoretical framework and address the following questions: 1) How might you use that design to address the problem?; 2) What is the purpose of the research?; 3) From what population group would you collect data. I wrote on support for Latino students in U.S. postsecondary education institutions. The research design/method I chose was critical discourse analysis. I earned 10/10 on this paper.
  • Week 5: In week 5 we did a peer review of one of our team members’ Linking Research Design, Research Problem, and Research Questions assignment in the Peer Review Preparation Learning Activity. We used the UOPX Peer Review Form to provide feedback. I earned 5/5 on this review.
  • Week 6: In week 6 the assignment was to review the UOPX Observational Protocol and take notes during an observation. Observe a group interaction in a public place approved by your facilitator. Consider a place to conduct an observation where there is a shared group culture among adults. Avoid places where members of protected classes gather, such as a school, Planned Parenthood, a pediatrician’s office, or a prison. Do not participate in the interactions. I selected a local Starbucks Cafe close to the CSU. Pay attention to the verbal and nonverbal communication styles and cultural artifacts–typically linguistic in nature–that manifest in this context. Take detailed notes about the context of the situation you describe and what you observe. Then write a 1,050- to 1,400-word ethnographic report that details new knowledge you can infer from the situation as grounded in the study, based on the observation. Build the context of your setting by describing the environment and its generalizability to greater cultural constructs. Describe the culture expressed in the participants’ interaction and the inferences that can be made from those interactions. Conclude with a synthesis of these notions that builds a greater understanding of the culture manifested in this situation. Describe the value these inferences might have on understanding the environment, individuals, or a greater scope of human interaction. I earned 6/10 and was naturally shocked.
  • Week 7: In week 7 we reviewed the data set provided for the Case Study Analysis and Report assignment. Locate the video in the data set, which is either an interview or a focus group. Transcribe and analyze the interview or focus group video. Reflect on how well the results provide useful and relevant information to address the research questions. Write a 700- to 1,50-word interview transcription analysis report on the results, Include your transcription as an appendix. I earned 10/10 on this assignment.
  • Week 8: In week 8 we selected a case study from the student website. Access the data  set, which consists of video clips and summaries of the results of analyzed narrative data, such as themes from interviews, meetings, documents, observations. Combine the results in the case study with the results of the interview analysis from week 7. Analyze the patterns and themes in and across the findings, triangulating the results. Create an integrative, 6- to 10-slide Microsoft PowerPoint class presentation that links the useful findings into a coherent piece of knowledge. Write a 1,750- to 2,100-word report that presents major findings that would be helpful to the organization’s leadership team. Include a set of specific recommendations for action that stem from the findings. I earned 15/15 on the week 8 assignment.


For this particular course, the course material was challenging enough. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a qualitative researcher. However, this particular instructor opened my eyes to much that I had not anticipated in a field I thought I was fairly fluent in. I made a critical decision in this course to try and revise my desired dissertation topic such that it will include a quantitative methodology versus a qualitative. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the instructor teaching quantitative methodology was extremely helpful and made the challenging seem not so bad. This was the exact opposite from the qualitative methodology course and instructor. Second, I’ve come to realize that qualitative methods are all time-consuming. I want to complete this program asap and that means using secondary data if need be. I am now reviewing to find what data are already out there regarding online education.


I learned much qualitative methodology and had an opportunity to place myself in the field to collect data unobtrusively.

I successfully completed the course with 93 out of 100 points. I earned an A- and 3 credits. So I have now completed 25 units and have 40 more to go.

Required Reading

Bogdan, R. C. & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson A & B.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2013). The landscape of qualitative research (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Marczyk, G., DeMatteo, D., & Festinger, D. (2005). Essentials of research design and methodology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Schram, T. H. (2006). Conceptualizing and proposing qualitative research (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Shank, G. D. (2006). Qualitative research: A personal skills approach (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle

Supplemental Resources


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