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



Bogdan, R., & Biklen, R.C. (1992). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston: Allyn-Bacon.

Cronbach and Suppes (1969) in Research for tomorrow's schools. New York: Macmillan.

Palmer, Parker J. (1983). To know as we are known/ A spirituality of education. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Levinas, E. (1987).  Philosophy and the idea of infinity.  In A. Lingis (Translator), Collected philosophical papers (pp. 47-59).  Dordrecht: Eartinus Nijhoff.

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Smith and Glass (1987), page 25 in Research and evaluation in education and the social sciences. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Questions for Consideration

  1. What is naturalistic inquiry?
  2. How is naturalistic inquiry different from qualitative research' why make a distinction between the two?
  3. What is disciplined inquiry?
  4. Can naturalistic inquiry be disciplined?  Why should it be?
  5. How compatible are disciplined inquiry and naturalistic inquiry with your assumptions?
  6. What does each of the following axioms mean to you personally?
    1. Regarding the nature of reality, the naturalistic paradigm holds that realities are multiple,  constructed, and holistic rather than single, tangible, and fragmentable.
    2. Regarding the relationship of the inquirer and the thing being inquired into, the naturalistic paradigm holds that the knower and the known are interactive, inseparable rather than independent, a dualism.
    3. Regarding the possibility of generalization from a study, the naturalistic paradigm holds that only time and context-bound working hypotheses (idiographic statements) are possible rather than time and context-free generalizations (nomothetic statements).
    4. Regarding the possibility of establishing causal linkages through research studies, the naturalistic paradigm holds that all entities are in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping, so that it is impossible to distinguish causes from effects rather than claiming that there  are real causes, temporally precedent to or simultaneous with their effects.
    5. Regarding the role of values in inquiry, the naturalistic paradigm holds that inquiry is value-bound and not value-free.
  7. How would you use these axioms to help you decide if a potential research problem you wanted to study could be approached using naturalistic inquiry?
  8. What is your stand on these axioms or beliefs as they relate to the research problems (the perplexities or anomalies) you are thinking about in your own work?
  9. What are some of the distinguishing characteristics of qualitative inquiry?
  10. How would you describe the general process for conducting a qualitative study?
  11. How would you answer the following questions about qualitative inquiry:
    1. Is it scientific?  Rigorous?
    2. How can teachers use it to help them in their work?
    3. Are findings from this kind of inquiry generalizable?
    4. Isn't it more subjective than other kinds of research?
    5. When would you use it instead of other kinds of research?
    6. Is it reliable?
    7. How is it different from quantitative methods?

Suggested Activities

  1. Look at the vignette you wrote for Chapter One, Activity #3, describing an event in your practice. Ponder the assumptions underlying what you observed and your observation of it. These questions might help:
    1. What did you expect to see?
    2. Of all the things you could have seen why was your attention drawn to this way of seeing it?
    3. What was your agenda?
    4. What were the other participants' agendas?
    5. Why did you do what you did?
    6. Why do you think the other participants did what they did?
  2. Work your way through these issues in writing. Designate this as being separate from the observations in your field note record. [I use OC for Observer Comment.]
  3. What questions did this chapter raise for you?

End-of-Chapter Survey

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