Qualitative Research for Applied Practice

This course focuses on developing skills and confidence in designing and conducting a qualitative study for the purpose of translating knowledge into practice in an applied field. We will consider applied qualitative research in theory, in process, and in context. That is, we will work through the various phases of conceptualizing and conducting a qualitative study whose purpose extends beyond theorizing and seeks action-in-the-world.

The course will cover basic elements of the logic of philosophical, theoretical, and disciplinary positioning, sampling, data collection options, data analysis, and interpretation in an applied qualitative research context. We will reflect on the relationship between these components of design and the qualities of a project that engender work that is trustworthy, credible, and appropriately aligned with the investigator’s applied research aims. We will deconstruct how we know what we know in an applied qualitative project, and consider how we come to make knowledge claims, particularly evidentiary claims, on the basis of our qualitative investigations. We will delve into how applied qualitative researchers transform data pieces into patterns and begin to make thematic observations that will develop into meaningful findings, allowing participants an opportunity to wrestle with the intellectual mechanics that data analysis entails.

In addition to instruction, handouts, and a list of suggested references, the course will also include interactive components; participants will be invited to ask questions regarding their own inquiry to inform the collective thinking of the group.

Course content is adapted from Dr. Thorne’s book, Interpretive Description: Qualitative Research for Applied Practice (2nd ed., 2016, Routledge).