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



Boody, R. M, (1992). An examination of the philosophical grounding of teacher reflection and one teacher’s experience, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

Connelly, F. M. and Clandinin, D. J. (1988). Teachers as curriculum planners: narratives of experience, New York: Teachers College.

Miles, M. and Huberman, M. (1984). Qualitative data analysis, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Tesch, R. (1990). Qualitative research: analysis types and software tools. New York: Falmer.

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

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

Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists, New York: Cambridge Ufiversity Press

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 Understanding the work of naturalistic researchers, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

Questions for Consideration

  1. When should analysis begin in a qualitative inquiry? Why?
  2. What is analysis in the qualitative sense?
  3. What is “meaning” and why is it so important in qualitative inquiry?
  4. How can you get at or understand meaning?
  5. What is a domain?
  6. What is domain analysis?
  7. What are the differences between domain, cover term, included terms, and semantic relationship?
  8. What are the steps in doing a domain analysis?
  9. Why is domain analysis so important?
  10. How does domain analysis build on other qualitative inquiry activities?
  11. What other types of analysis and collection activities should be used to follow up on a domain analysis?
  12. When is it better to conduct a surface or holistic qualitative inquiry without going into any focused domains more deeply?
  13. When is it more appropriate to narrow the investigation to a few selected domains for a focused in-depth investigation?
  14. When is it appropriate to do both (holistic and in-depth)?
  15. How can one do both when nearly all social situations are very complex?
  16. How is a structural question different from a descriptive one?
  17. Why does Spradley suggest you should continue making descriptive observations while you make focused observations?
  18. Why should the same structural question be repeated many times during focused observations?
  19. What is a taxonomy?
  20. What is taxonomic analysis?
  21. How does taxonomic analysis help qualitative inquirers discover meaning in human activities?
  22. Why does taxonomic analysis follow domain analysis?
  23. How many levels should a taxonomy have?
  24. How might folk terms and analytic terms be used in a taxonomy?
  25. Why should the qualitative researcher search for larger, more inclusive domains as well as for additional included terms during a taxonomic analysis?
  26. When should focused and descriptive observations be done in relation to domain and taxonomic analyses?
  27. How can focused observations be used to “check out” tentative taxonomies?
  28. For how many domains should taxonomic analyses be conducted in a single study?
  29. When is a box diagram appropriate to use for a taxonomy? A lines and nodes diagram? An outline diagram?
  30. How do you plan to conduct taxonomic analysis in your own project?
  31. What are contrast questions?
  32. How do contrast questions relate to descriptive and structural questions?
  33. How do contrast questions help qualitative inquirers understand cultural meaning?
  34. What is a dyadic contrast question?
  35. What is a triadic contrast question?
  36. What is a card-sorting contrast question?
  37. What are dimensions of contrast?
  38. What are selective observations?
  39. How do selective observations relate to descriptive and focused observations?
  40. How would you conduct selective observations?
  41. How would you use selective observations to ask contrast questions?
  42. How would you use interviews to ask contrast questions?
  43. What is componential analysis?
  44. How does componential analysis relate to domain analysis and taxonomic analysis?
  45. How does componential analysis relate to the three types of observation: descriptive, focused, and selective?
  46. How do “domain categories”, “attributes”, and “dimensions of contrast” relate to one another?
  47. How can understanding categories, attributes, and contrasts help a qualitative inquirer understand the meaning behind people’s actions, settings, feelings, objects, and so on?
  48. How can a paradigm chart help a qualitative inquirer analyze a cultural setting?
  49. What steps wall you follow in conducting a componential analysis of data in your own qualitative project?
  50. How will the steps identified above fit with the other steps you are following in the total project?

Suggested Activities

  1. Try out the Spradley analysis process on your field notes by doing the following:
    1. Using the field notes collected to date, conduct a small domain analysis of a few of your expanded field notes, using the steps presented in this chapter.
    2. Then, take a summary of 10-15 domains identified through the domain analysis and review it to ascertain possible domains for further research.
    3. Select one or two domains for a focused inquiry. Identify a structural question appropriate for each selected domain. Explain in you audit trail how you made these focusing decisions.
    4. Conduct another period of data collection in which you ask the structural questions and generate additional included terms to add to the growing list of terms included in the selected focus domains for your study.
    5. Conduct a taxonomic analysis on one or more domains (identified during the earlier domain analysis and selected for focus), following the steps outlined in this chapter.
    6. Carry out another period of participant observation using both descriptive and focused observations, to check out the taxonomic analysis.
    7. Prepare a relatively complete taxonomic diagram of one or more domains.
    8. After studying the materials in this chapter and the associated readings, you should select one or more domains from those identified and focused on in earlier assignments and ask yourself contrast questions to discover dimensions of contrast in these domains. You should review your field notes to answer these questions with all the information gathered to date.
    9. Then, you should conduct another period of participant observation in the field to use selective or selected observations (to ask further contrast questions through observations and interviews) along with additional descriptive and focused observations.
    10. Using the information presented in this chapter and the related readings (following the eight steps presented in Spradley), you should make a componential analysis of one or more domains.
    11. Then you should conduct another period of participant observation to make use of all three types of observation: descriptive, focused, and selective.
    12. You should synthesize 1 or 2 holistic themes, using the field notes and analyses accumulated to date.
    13. Then, you should write statements of those themes as brief assertions.
  2. How are you already interpreting or telling stories of your experience through the way you are living? Think about this and write your analysis in your field notes.
  3. How are you already reading or interpreting others’ interpretations or stories? Think about this and write your analysis in your field notes.
  4. How do you think you will change how you read others’ stories based on your review of qualitative inquiry and various associated approaches to analysis, synthesis, and interpretation? Think about this and write your analysis in your field notes.
  5. Do some narrative writing to tell a story about something or someone in your inquiry project. Reflect on the implicit interpretive stances you are using in creating this story as a representation of your “reading” of the situation you wrote about.
  6. Discuss the kinds of interpretation you are doing without writing at all and explore how writing can enhance your interpretations.
  7. If you are using literature, theory, or other explicit interpretive stances in your inquiry, describe these briefly and discuss how these concerns are influencing your study.

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