Preface1. Overview of qualitative inquiry and general texts on this topicA School Story of Qualitative InquiryAn Analysis of the StoryQualitative Inquiry ProcessThe Reality about the ProcessOrganization of this BookConclusion2. Assumptions we make in doing qualitative inquirySome Common AssumptionsAn Analysis of AssumptionsCommon Questions about Qualitative InquirySome Additional Beliefs and Assumptions Regarding Human InquiryConclusion3. Keeping a record, writing fieldnotesA StoryAn AnalysisKinds of FieldnotesExampleSome Ideas about Record KeepingMechanics of FieldnotesConclusion4. Relationship building to enhance inquiryAn Article-Based StoryThe ProcessResults and ConclusionAn Analysis of KL's ExperienceConclusion5. Standards and quality in qualitative inquiryA Self-Critique StoryAn AnalysisCredibilityTransferabilityDependabilityConfirmabilityOther CriteriaA ChecklistAudit TrailConclusion6. Focusing the inquiryA School's Superintendent's StoryAn AnalysisConclusion7. Data collectionGathering Through Observations, Interviews and DocumentsAn Assistant Principal's StoryGeneral LessonsObserving LessonsInterviewing LessonsDocument Review LessonsConclusion8. Data interpretationA Graduate Student StoryStory Reading Through Analysis, Synthesis and InterpretationAn AnalysisSpradley's Approach to InterpretationDomain AnalysisConclusion9. Sharing and reportingSharing through Story TellingRevisiting Three StoriesAn Analysis of Three StoriesConclusion10. AppendicesAppendix A.1 - A Sample Study from BYU-Public School PartnershipAppendix A.2 - What Have We Learned?Appendix A.3 - Patterns of ExperienceAppendix B.1 - Allowing Space for Not-Knowing: What My Journal Teaches Me, Part 1Appendix B.2 - Allowing Space for Not-Knowing: What My Journal Teaches Me, Part 2Appendix B.3 - Allowing Space for Not-Knowing: What My Journal Teaches Me, Part 3Appendix B.4 - Allowing Space for Not-Knowing: What My Journal Teaches Me, Part 4Appendix B.5 - Marne's critique of her own studyAppendix C - An Elementary School Example: My Observations of JimmyAppendix D - Reflecting on ReflectionAppendix E - A Study of Educational Change in AlbertaAppendix F - Moving Ahead: A Naturalistic Study of Retention Reversal of Five Elementary School ChildrenAppendix G.1 - An Examination of Teacher ReflectionAppendix G.2 - Themes of ReflectionAppendix H - Spradley's theme synthesis and report writingAppendix I - Index of Topics

An Analysis

As discussed in Chapter 2 - Assumptions [], qualitative inquiry should be “disciplined inquiry.” To make sure qualitative inquiry is disciplined, several standards have been proposed by various authors. Although no single study is likely to adhere to all these standards, the more standards that are met or at least addressed, the more believable and influential the inquiry is going to be to people with whom the study is shared. Consumers of qualitative studies can use these standards to judge the quality of the inquiries they read.

Although standards have been suggested by several different authors, the ones presented by Lincoln and Guba (1985) and by Guba and Lincoln (1989) provide an excellent core of criteria for a beginning. They suggest four types of standards or criteria be used to ensure the trustworthiness of qualitative inquiries: credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. They also recommend several techniques for conducting studies so they meet these standards.

The rationale for trustworthiness as the central objective of these standards is centered on the desire most people have for truth. As was discussed in Chapter 2 - Assumptions [], qualitative inquirers agree that most claims people make are based on their constructions of reality. A major objective in sharing our findings from inquiry thus becomes the persuasion of others that our constructions of reality are of value and should be considered in their constructions. Whether or not these claims are “True” in any ultimate sense can only be tested over time through many different experiences in a variety of contexts (this is the ultimate kind of generalization). But for any given study, the objective is one of persuasiveness– providing evidence that is compelling enough that audiences are willing to listen and consider the claims made. In other words, the more the inquirer can do to make the inquiry trustworthy, the more likely it is that readers will be persuaded to read on.