CoverPreface1. 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



Clandinin, D. J and Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hunter and Foley (1976). Doing Anthropology, New York: Harper and Row.

Knoblauch, C. H. and Brannon, L. (1988). Knowing our knowledge. A phenomenological basis for teacher research. Chaper 2 in Audits of meaning, a festschrift in honor of Ann E. Berthoff by Smith, L. Z. (Ed.), Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

McKinnon, D. G. (1992). A naturalistic inquiry into educational change. Unpublished dissertation, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

Spradley, J. P. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Spradley, J. P. (1980). Participant Observation, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Williams, D. D. (1981). Understanding the work of naturalistic researchers, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, CG.

Questions for Consideration

  1. Do you agree that different people will ask different questions in any given inquiry situation? What are the implications of your answer?
  2. How do the questions you ask influence your learning?
  3. How does your background context influence the questions you ask?
  4. If your background influences the questions you ask and your questions influence your learning, does your background determine your learning?
  5. How is question asking different for educators as inquirers in contrast to educators who do not see themselves in this way? In contrast to professional qualitative inquirers who are not educators?
  6. What are your reactions to the claims made in this chapter regarding the importance of question asking?

Suggested Activities

  1. Identify and write down questions you have in your work situation right now and questions from both within your setting (from people and events or problems there) and from without (from the literature and other experiences you have had) that you might like to address in your ongoing inquiry. Review this chapter to see if any other potential questions are provoked.
  2. Explore how these questions could influence your learning (or lack thereof) and what you plan to do about that.
  3. Clarify your focus for the inquiry you are doing as of right now, with the understanding that it can change dramatically.
  4. Write in your field notes a description at this point in your study of the questions you are asking and the context you are operating under that helped lead you to ask those questions. Address the following:
    • What was your initial question that got you into this inquiry situation?
    • What other questions have come up?
    • How did these questions come up?
    • What questions, if any, have you decided not to consider in this study? Why?
    • What are some of the contextual details in your life that you think have lead you to ask these questions in this inquiry?
  5. What questions, if any, did this chapter raise for you?

CC BY: This work is released under a CC BY license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you properly attribute it.

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