QRSI 2015 Course Descriptions

(arranged by date)


Core Principles of Mixed Methods Analysis
Instructor: Kevin Swartout

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

Communicating research findings is storytelling; some stories are supported by qualitative data, some are supported by numbers, some by both. This course is for researchers who want to consume mixed-methods research or incorporate mixed methods into their scholarship. Rather than furthering the misguided rivalry between inquiries, this course will focus on the shared principles between qualitative and quantitative analysis, noting divergence when necessary. This approach will position scholars to determine patterns and draw integrated conclusions across analyses and across a literature, all toward the goal of telling rich, well-informed stories.

Core discussions will include:

  • Basic principles, assumptions, and practices in mixed methods.
  • How to develop a sound, flexible analysis strategy.
  • Specific methods for combining qualitative and quantitative findings.
  • How to manage assumptions to maintain analytic legitimacy.
  • Best practices for writing-up mixed methods findings.
  • Concrete examples and tips for practice.

Crafting Phenomenological Research: How Phenomena Can Take Shape in Various Contexts
Instructor: Mark Vagle

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

Phenomenology is a way for qualitative researchers to look at what we usually look through. It means being profoundly present in our research encounters, to leave no stone unturned, to slow down in order to open up, to dwell with our surroundings, and to know that there is “never nothing going on.” Because the philosophical ideas that underpin phenomenology can be abstract and sometimes elusive, this course will communicate these topics as concretely as possible. That is, the course will provide techniques, tools, and strategies for cultivating a phenomenology. We will use examples, anecdotes, and exercises to work through and navigate the craft.

To learn about phenomenological research approaches, we will experience a series of data collection tools and strategies such as going on “phenomenology walks,” writing about lived experiences, and interviewing one another. We will explore Vagle’s five-component methodological process for conducting post-intentional phenomenological research—working to make sense of how our phenomena might take shape in various contexts:

  1. Identify a phenomenon in its multiple, partial, and varied contexts.
  2. Devise a clear, yet flexible process for gathering data appropriate for the phenomenon under investigation.
  3. Make a post–reflexivity plan.
  4. Read and write your way through your data in a systematic, responsive manner.
  5. Craft a text that captures tentative manifestations of the phenomenon in its multiple, partial, and varied contexts.

Finally, we will explore conventional and less-conventional ways to write up our research.

A wide variety of methodological and philosophical texts and examples of phenomenological studies will be on hand for participants to read and discuss during the course. The course is based on Vagle’s book by the same name, Crafting Phenomenological Research (Left Coast Press, 2014).

Fundamentals of Qualitative Research
Instructor: Johnny Saldaña

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

“Fundamentals of Qualitative Research” is an intensive two-day introductory overview of basic approaches to and methods for qualitative inquiry. Course content will be adapted from Saldaña’s textbook, Fundamentals of Qualitative Research (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Major topics addressed will include: (1) genres, elements, and styles of qualitative research; (2) a survey of qualitative data collection methods; (3) qualitative research design; (4) a survey of qualitative data analytic methods; and (5) writing and presenting qualitative research. Multiple practical and on-your-feet activities will be included throughout the course to provide students experiential knowledge of the subject.

Novices to qualitative inquiry will benefit from this course by gaining literacy and workshop experience in the basic methods of qualitative research for future study and application.

Experienced qualitative researchers may benefit from this course by refreshing their knowledge bases of methods, plus observing how introductory material is approached with novices for future classroom teaching applications.

Implementation Research: Using Qualitative Research Methods to Improve Policy and Practice
Instructor: Alison Hamilton

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

Implementation research aims to integrate research findings into policy and practice.  In order to improve the quality and effectiveness of routine practice, implementation researchers collect qualitative data about the everyday behaviors and beliefs of practitioners and other professionals, stakeholders, and recipients of services.  During data collection, special attention is paid to factors that both facilitate and impede effective execution and implementation of major programs and service delivery. The end goal is to increase the likelihood of uptake, adoption, implementation, and sustainability of evidence-based practices.

To provide fundamental knowledge and skill to help facilitate your own work, the course walks through critical components of building and carrying out an implementation research project:

  • Developing appropriate implementation research questions and specific aims
  • Selecting conceptual models
  • Strategizing about study design
  • Determining appropriate, feasible qualitative data collection methods
  • Executing qualitative analytic strategies
  • Generating timely and impactful implementation research products

The application of methodological concepts will be illustrated via examples from implementation research in the context of varied settings such as healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and communities.

Participants will be provided with materials and bibliographies to support the practice of qualitative methods in implementation research.

Making Claims and Building Theory in Qualitative Inquiry

Instructor: Sarah Tracy

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

The course highlights everyday approaches used by qualitative researchers to enrich theory and practice as they move from research questions, to coding, to making claims and building theory from qualitative data. Making claims and building theory involve moving from isolated topics to generating meaning among these topics. This process means moving from flat analysis to connections that will capture our attention. We will discuss how to combine these strategies to craft work that is engaging and appealing to target audiences. This course will benefit those new to qualitative methods as well as those experienced who want to take their analyses to a deeper level or learn new techniques for teaching qualitative interpretation and analysis.

Course participants will:

1. Receive worksheets to assist in claim making and theory building.

2. Leave the seminar understanding 8 specific strategies for creating and deepening claims.

3. Learn a “formula” for making claims and theory.

4. Become acquainted with a phronetic (common sense), iterative analysis approach.

5. Practice claim-making and theory-building techniques on their own data or data the instructor will provide.

6. Learn tips for crafting engaging presentations and written products.

Resources for this workshop will come, in part, from Tracy’s Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact (Wiley, 2013)

Progressing with Grounded Theory
Instructor: Kathy Charmaz

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 27-28

Qualitative researchers often experience common problems such as getting lost after collecting and coding data, overlooking possibilities for developing their ideas, and producing disjointed and mundane reports.  Grounded theory methods help you expedite analyzing your data and writing your report.  This class takes basic grounded theory principles to the next step of increasing the incisiveness, creativity, and clarity of your work.  Our purpose is to help you retain the flexibility of grounded theory while furthering the conceptual depth and scope of your analyses.   We will emphasize how to (1) develop and recognize powerful codes, (2) strengthen your emergent categories, (3) integrate these categories into a coherent narrative, and (4) write a compelling report.

Familiarity with basic grounded theory strategies is advised.  Grounded theory is a general method and its strategies of qualitative coding and memo-writing have been widely adopted by qualitative researchers of all kinds.  This class best serves participants who are in the midst of a project or have engaged in qualitative coding and memo writing for an earlier study.

Qualitative reportage relies on art and science—image and analysis.  Yet analysis does not stop when we write our reports.  We will briefly discuss how to create an artful rendering of your work that increases the power of your analysis.  We will also cover strategies for developing arguments, writing literature reviews and theoretical frameworks, and constructing abstracts, titles, and introductions.  The last session focuses on choosing journals and publishing houses, preparing your manuscript for submission, and working with editors and reviewers.



8 Criteria for Creating Quality in Qualitative Research

Instructor: Sarah Tracy

Date: Wednesday, July 29

This workshop presents a parsimonious “big tent” model* of eight key markers of quality in qualitative research including:

  1. Worthy Topic – Craft a topic that is heard as relevant, timely, significant and interesting to core audiences
  2. Rich Rigor – Create rich rigor through using sufficient, abundant, appropriate, and complex theories, data, constructs, and analysis processes
  3. Sincerity – Communicate sincerity by being self-reflexive and transparent
  4. Credibility – Mark credibility through thick description, triangulation, crystallization, multivocality, and member reflections
  5. Resonance – Fashion resonant research that influences and moves audiences through aesthetic representation, naturalistic generalization, and transferable findings
  6. Significant Contribution – Develop a significant contribution—theoretically, practically, morally, methodologically, and heuristically
  7. Ethics – Practice qualitative ethics–including procedural, situational, relational, and exiting considerations
  8. Meaningful Coherence – Create meaningful coherence by interconnecting literature, research questions, findings and interpretations so that they fit together, cohere with the study’s goals, and connect with the audience’s expectations

This workshop is ideal for researchers, grant-writers, and instructors of qualitative methods—both those new to these areas as well as those who are experienced. This eight-point conceptualization offers a useful pedagogical model, a guide for evaluation, and a common language of qualitative best practices that can be recognized as integral by a variety of audiences.

*This model is based upon the conceptualization developed in journal article: Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16, 837-851 and as elucidated in Tracy’s Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact.

Because It was Qualitative: How to Build Unapologetic Arguments for the Strength of Our Work

Instructor: Tony Adams, Alison Hamilton and Ray Maietta

Date: Wednesday, July 29

This course is founded on the premise that qualitative inquiry is unique, powerful, and necessary. The course presents unapologetic arguments for the strength of our work as qualitative experts and offers concrete tips and approaches to qualitative practice. Adams, Hamilton, and Maietta will use a combination of their own work and their favorite qualitative work in autoethnography, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and evaluation to equip you with the skills and language to become a vocal advocate for your qualitative contributions and the qualitative work you consume and share with others.

To accomplish this goal, these 4 principles must guide how you engage, evaluate and present qualitative work:

1) The strategies you use to carry out your project must align with your project questions and goals.

2) You must verify the quality of your work DURING data collection and analysis.

3) The presentation of your work must be lucid and compelling.

a) You must effectively build and tell your qualitative story using your data to discover and communicate your message(s)

4) You must make a useful contribution

a) to practice

b) to theory

c) to future research

Together we will review how others have accomplished these goals and help to ensure you do so as you move forward with your qualitative projects.

Building a Codebook and Writing Memos

Instructor: Paul Mihas

Date: Wednesday, July 29

This course focuses on developing codes and integrating memo writing into a larger analytic process. Coding and memo writing function as simultaneous and fluid tasks that occur during actively reviewing of interviews, focus groups, and multi-media data. We will discuss deductive and inductive codes and how a codebook can evolve, that is, how codes can emerge and shift unexpectedly during analysis. Managing codes also includes developing code connections and possible hierarchies, identifying code “constellations,” and building multidimensional themes. Our discussion of codes will include the following topics:

  • The importance of code names and definitions
  • Deductive, inductive, and thematic codes
  • How many codes are too many?
  • How broad or specific should codes be?

Memos function as deep reflections that capture nuanced thoughts and cumulative reactions to data. Memo writing strategies help us capture analytical thinking, inscribed meaning, and cumulative evidence for emerging meaning. Memos can also resemble early writing for reports, articles, chapters, and other forms of presentation. Researchers can also mine memos for codes and incorporate memos in building evocative themes and theory. The following types of memos and memo-writing will be discussed in an effort to offer strategies to begin applying these techniques to your own work: holistic memos, positionality memos, statement memos, thematic memos, and memos that engage critical data segments.

Creating Credible, Vivid, and Persuasive Qualitative Stories: Research as Performance

Instructor: Johnny Saldaña

Date: Wednesday, July 29

An arts-based approach can enrich our understanding of how people experience their worlds.  When the audiences of our research hear poems and see plays that portray the themes and meanings in our data, they witness the power of nuance and the integrated nature of qualitative findings.  Our audiences become more present in our story telling and are more likely to absorb the multi-dimensional messages we convey.

Johnny Saldaña, one of the best known practitioners of this research tradition, will guide participants through improvisational and writing exercises to explore how dramatic texts add credibility and make presentations more vivid and persuasive.  These skills will help researchers document and represent fieldwork ranging from education to health care.

The course will also provide a literature review of exemplary play scripts and videos in research-based theatre; methods of dramatizing field notes and adapting interview transcripts; and the developmental process of autoethnographic monologues. Throughout, Saldaña emphasizes the vital importance of creating good theatre as well as good research for impact on an audience and performers.

Key figures in qualitative inquiry, Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, endorse the arts-based research techniques outlined and supported in this course as a powerful way for ethnographers to interrogate and represent the meanings of lived experiences.

No prior theatre or performance experience is needed to participate in this workshop.

Learning from Lived Experience: How We Can Study the World as It Is Lived

Instructor: Mark Vagle

Date: Wednesday, July 29

This workshop will explore what “lived experience” means for qualitative researchers and how we can study the world as it is lived, not the world as it is measured, transformed, represented, correlated, and broken down. In paying close attention to lived experience, we are interested in the felt and sensed aspects of our and our participants’ experiences, as well as the contextual aspects in which these experiences are lived. How can we listen to and make sense of this significance and use it in our qualitative research?

We will identify lived experiences that we are interested in studying and use theoretical tools from phenomenological traditions to explore how we can open up, wonder about, and understand these experiences more deeply. We will treat theorizing as an active and generative process of exploration.

We will also put these theoretical tools to use in our data collection processes—focusing on observing and interviewing lived experiences. As a concrete example, we will spend time exploring how various visual and popular media can serve as data for studying lived experience. With data from some of Vagle’s current studies of social class lived experiences in schools and communities, we will further practice data analysis using the theoretical tools we have learned. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own data and/or research ideas so they can apply these tools and techniques to their work.

Publishing Qualitative Research

Instructor: George W. Noblit

Date: Wednesday, July 29

Qualitative research is a social practice that yields knowledge and understanding. To paraphrase Clifford Geertz, it involves “being there and writing here.”

This workshop will engage participants in a set of six processes to prepare for publishing qualitative research—both as journal articles and as books. These include:

  1. Framing the study for publication — examining the history of ideas in your field of study and recognizing a study’s potential.
  2. Decoding journals and fields of study — Knowing your audience both in terms of the intellectual field in which your study is to be situated and knowing the journals which are potential publication outlets.
  3. Finding your voice — Knowing what you found and how you found it is the first step in writing for publication, but the real tricks involve processes of finding your voice and becoming a literary researcher.
  4. Reduction and Elaboration — Qualitative studies are not naturally article length. Quite often they are too involved for a single article and not enough for a full book. Ironically, cutting down a study’s focus usually requires that more be said about some elements of the process and substance. Thus we must use processes of reduction and elaboration. In this, it is often helpful to find a template publication that helps organize and limit what needs to be said.
  5. Surviving the review process — Getting published either as a book or article involves being able to anticipate peer reviews. This requires the capability to take on a reviewer’s perspective, anticipating critiques, and thinking through alternative explanations.
  6. Capturing an audience and Claiming a market – Writing books is about capturing an audience and claiming a market. To prepare for this, we will decode book proposal guides from publishers and practice selling a book idea. We will examine some qualitative books to discern: How a book is different from an article.

It will help if participants bring an existing study or study idea to be thought through, and ground our discussions.


Coding and Analyzing Qualitative Data

Instructor: Johnny Saldaña

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

This two-day workshop focuses on a range of selected methods of coding qualitative data for analytic outcomes that includes patterns, categories, themes, processes, and causation. The course will also touch upon how these methods fit with or differ from coding strategies in grounded theory and phenomenology.

The workshop will address:

  • Various coding methods for qualitative data (interview transcripts, field notes, documents)
  • Analytic memo and vignette writing
  • Heuristics for thinking qualitatively and analytically

Manual (hard copy) coding will be emphasized with a discussion of available analytic software for future use. Workshop content is derived from Saldaña’s The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (2nd ed., Sage Publications, 2013).

Doing Qualitative Research Online

Instructors: Tony Adams and Kevin Swartout

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

Every day, millions of people use the Internet and social media (e.g., Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, virtual communities) to communicate and relate with others. This trend will only accelerate with the availability of portable, web-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets. Moving forward, qualitative researchers will not be able to fully understand the people they study unless they pursue a deep exploration of their participants’ online activities. This course will address issues inherent to qualitative research and data analysis as collected, gathered, and retrieved from online sources.

Topics will include:

  • Designing and evaluating qualitative projects with online data-collection components.
  • Virtual ethnography – tips and strategies for immersing yourself, as a researcher, in an online community, including:
    • Using different perspectives to understand and analyze the community. This discussion considers benefits and cautions for “insider” and “outsider” positionality within the community.
    • Ethics related to online ethnography.
  • Unique methodological characteristics of working with social media, online communities and other computer-mediated technologies, including:
    • Defining the field
    • Determining the quality and extent of a researcher’s participation
    • Deciding what counts as data
    • Finding ethical ways to represent online participants
  • Analyzing qualitative data collected from online contexts
  • Writing up findings

Examples will be given throughout from the instructors’ own research with computer-mediated technologies, traditional websites, social media, and other online sources.

Engaging Intensive Interviews

Instructor: Kathy Charmaz

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

Interviewing is the most common method of data collection in qualitative inquiry.  It has sparked much debate and discussion yet researchers have given relatively little concrete advice about how to develop effective interviewing skills. The purpose of this class is to give you a foundation for building skills to engage in mindful interviewing practice. We will take a collaborative approach to learning about interviewing and developing interviewing skills in a supportive environment.

Intensive interviewing is both a method and an intimate form of human connection seldom experienced between relative strangers. The interview experience can be revelatory and transformative for both the researcher and research participant. Yet because interviewing is a contested method, I will briefly outline criticisms of it.  We will address questions of ethics, meaning, reflexivity, and co-construction of data and discuss complex situations that can occur when researchers interview people across racial, class, age, and gender divides. However, our main emphases will be on (1) constructing, ordering, and asking good in-depth interview questions and (2) being fully present while conducting the interview.

To start, we will work on constructing an interview guide with well-designed and paced questions. If you can create a good interview guide, you will become more attuned to how and when to ask to questions—even if you don’t use your interview guide.  You will also become more sensitive to how research participants might think, feel, and respond to your questions. The class will give you opportunities to devise sample interview questions on a topic of your choice, conduct a short practice interview, and experience the interview process as a research participant. In this class, learning relies on direct experience, collaborative efforts, congenial interaction, and constructive feedback.  We will have great fun engaging intensive interviews!

Engaging Theory in Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation

Instructor: George W.Noblit

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

The role of theory in qualitative research has changed and theory is now understood as a lens through which to interpret qualitative data. This approach has been called “theorizing” qualitative data. Theorizing explicates what can be said from a data set. In theorizing, substantive theories combine with reflection and researcher positionality to yield a reading of the data.  Instead of testing theories, researchers use and critique them for their applicability as explanations and interpretations.

Theorizing can be accomplished in various ways. Three common ways are:

  1. Searching for alternative interpretations
  2. Determining what is not analyzed by the theory
  3. Conducting a more inductive, emic or grounded theory type analysis.

Each of these approaches focus on what is not accounted for by the theorizing.  By comparing what results from each approach with the theorized account, we can gain or lose confidence in the trustworthiness of the theorized account.

Throughout the workshop, we will engage several exercises to practice theorizing:

  • We begin with a reminder exercise involving coding.
  • We will examine select theories, including theories used in applied and practice settings.
  • In groups, we will develop the key concepts and logics to be used for a chosen theory or two and prepare a “theorizing guide” for each theory.
    • We will then return to read and code the data using each theory in turn.
  • We will then use a “theorized account writing guide” to write short accounts of our theoretical readings of data.
  • Participants will compare the theorized accounts with alternative interpretations.
  • Our group activities will end with participants “performing” a theorized account. These presentations will employ a readers’ theatre format where participants create a script using the guides completed during the session.

There are no prerequisites for this workshop and no prior knowledge of theory is necessary.

Mixed Methods: Bridging Qualitative and Quantitative Methods and Results

Instructor: Alison Hamilton

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

A researcher or research team pursues a mixed methods approach to understand a given topic or phenomenon more deeply when numbers or stories alone do not provide a complete picture. Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches can enhance conversations about theory and/or inform the evolution of practice and policy. This complex and demanding research paradigm requires knowledge, skill, and expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as the art of carefully integrating the approaches to and findings from each mode of inquiry.

This course focuses on strategies, tips, and best practices to accomplish this integration in accessible and effective ways, including:

  • Rationales to guide decision making related to study design and execution. For example:
    • Will the qualitative and quantitative data collection efforts occur concurrently or sequentially, and why?
    • Will either the qualitative or quantitative be privileged or will each contribute equally to answering the research questions and generating the project’s final products?
    • How much time will be allocated to integration and/or subsequent data collection phases, and what factors will contribute to the timing and phasing?
    • What expertise and resources are needed?
    • What are the priority end products and how does the integrated analytic plan lead to those products?
  • Conceptual, theoretical, and/or logic models as roadmaps to set the stage for and guide integration.
  • Design and analytic strategies that advance frameworks and processes of connecting, building, merging, embedding, and bridging. For example:
    • The power and role of using data displays and visual diagramming during the analytic process, e.g., side-by-side comparisons, integrated matrices, joint displays.
  • Qualities of good reporting and attributes of good mixed methods articles.

Writing Effective Qualitative and Mixed Methods Proposals

Instructor: Margarete Sandelowski

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 30-31

The focus of this course is on concrete, this-is-how-you-might/should-say-it strategies for designing and writing competitive qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals. Qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals are exercises in artful and mindful design, verbal precision, imaginative and informed rehearsal, elegant expression, and strategic disarmament. We will cover principles generic to proposals, and specific ways to communicate the significance, conceptual framing, methodological details (sampling and data collection and analysis plans, plans for optimizing validity and human subjects protections) of, and budget and budget justification for, the planned study. We will also cover strategies for addressing those aspects of qualitative and mixed-methods research designs likely to arouse the most concern among reviewers less familiar with them, most notably the purposeful sampling frame and generalizability of study findings. This course is appropriate for graduate students and faculty in the practice disciplines (e.g., clinical psychology, education, medicine, nursing, public health, social work) as well as researchers from other fields of study (e.g., sociology, anthropology).

In addition to didactic instruction, handouts, and a suggested reference list, the course will include an interactive session where participants will have the opportunity, as time permits, to ask questions about their own proposals for problem solving.