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This course aims to help students to reflect upon their methodological framework and to improve their methodological skills for doing qualitative research - especially regarding the development of their own research projects.
The course is structured in units of study - according to the different aspects of qualitative research methods that will be dealt upon during this semester. First of all, we will focus on an all-encompassing methodological approach to doing research in social and human sciences (unit 1); particularly, we will discuss the approach of the Grounded Theory and its approach to, and understading of, doing research and theoretical work. Afterwards, we will turn our attention to the key qualitative techniques of data gathering (unit 2), and to the procedures of analysis of qualitative data (unit 3). Finally we will focus upon issues regarding the validity, quality and reliability of our data and analyses (unit 4).
Students will read and discuss different texts related to qualitative methods. They will also work upon their own dissertation's proposal. Thus they will gather and analyse data that they will need for their own research.. Students will be encouraged to apply the advice and recommendations provided by the course materials to their own projects, in order to improve the basic aspects of their methods section. Methodological approaches, gathered and analysed data will be collectively discussed along the course in the virtual classroom. Participation in these discussions is a key element of the course.
This course will cover the following topics:
1) Where are the data and what are we supposed to do with them? An introduction to the Grounded Theory
2) Data gathering
3) Making sense of the data - data analysis
4) Relying on our data
5) Structuring the research proposal
This course assumes that students have some basic notions on qualitative methods, thus the emphasis (beyond going over each single technique discussing whichever aspects are thought to be necessary in dialogue with the students) will be set upon the development of a general methodological approach to qualitative research in the social sciences; only understanding what we do, what we can do, and we seek to do in our researches, we can use techniques of data gathering and analysing without losing a certain creative perspective that makes us masters of our own research.
At the end of the course, I hope you will have achieved the following skills:
This course will contribute to developing the student's following skills:
TENTATIVE CLASS SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS
General Schedule: course begins in September, the 20th of January is the last day to present final research proposals!
1. Where are the data and what are we supposed to do with them? An introduction to the Grounded Theory
Week 1, 2, 3 and 4
This apparently naïve question is, in fact, a rather complicated one - most certainly not naïve!
Those of you who have already gathered some experience with research will have realized that when we do research we tend either to know from the very beginning of our research the type of data that we shall gather and how (which means that we have not thought about this issue in depth, evaluating different possibilities), or we are totally lost with a very interesting research question (and perhaps a fascinating theoretical background), but cannot quite find the way to translate that which we want to know into a research plan, into the concrete set of methods and techniques that we should be using in order to gather and analyze the required data.
In these introductory weeks I would like to introduce you to a methodological approach that has particularly been useful to me over the last years: the Grounded Theory.
Despite of being currently very fashionable and discussed in the most outstanding sociological conferences as the ultimate approach to research, I would dare asserting that the Grounded Theory has the main quality of bringing some common sense into the praxis of everyday research, legitimating practices that most researchers end up doing all the same, and thereby giving guidelines and making reasonable suggestions about the most useful and productive ways of doing what we normally do.
The main objectives of this first, introductory unit are thus:
1. Presenting the approach of the Grounded Theory to do research in the social sciences
3. Writing a preliminary research proposal in which these questions and their initial answers are reflected.
4. Discussing alternative methodological approaches to doing qualitative research.
- Unit 1 of our course materials (see course materials, http://materials.cv.uoc.edu/continguts/PID_00154769/web/main/m1/portada.html)
- Introduction round: background degrees, occupation, intended research topic (just a couple of lines). Before Marc, 6. (You may use the same email for other courses in English - no problem.)
- Read all material provided and post comments or questions
- Engage in the following discussions:
1. Introduction and presentation of your research question in the forum
2. Discussion of the Grounded Theory as a possible approach to doing research - relating this discussion to your research questions.
- Begin a research diary
- Write a short pre-proposal for your master thesis project (max. 1000 words). Make sure to present your research question, your research objectives, and the methods you intend to use. Send to Forum and submit to our continuous assessment mailbox. Deadline October, 18. You can use the same proposal for Research Design and Advanced Qualitative Methods if you're enrolled in both courses (formative evaluation). Deadline October, 18.
- Submit a brief essay discussing the methodological approach of the grounded theory. Deadline October, 25.
Suggested optional tasks:
- Look for (good & short) characterizations of different methodological approaches to research in the social sciences, and post them to our forum.
- Look for (good & short) definitions of 'methodology', 'method' and 'technique' of research in the social sciences and post them to our forum. This would be a very necessary, important and useful task to do!
2. Data Gathering
(Week 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9)
- Course materials (unit 2)
- Complementary texts depending on your research proposals. They'll be posted in our notice board, or uploaded in our file area at the beginning of this learning unit.
- Read the course materials and post comments and questions
- Explain in the space of debate what kind of data you intend to gather in order to answer your research question (make your research question explicit at the same time please). Give feedback to your colleagues' posts.
- Write a research diary with an emphasis on your reflexive practice during the data gathering process.
-Select one type of data that you will need in your research in order to answer your research question. Gather or obtain the data. Deadline December, 3 (formative evaluation)
- Write a short essay about the gathering process, and explain the relationship between your reflexive practice and the data you have gathered. Deadline December, 3.
- Submit your research diary, deadline December 3 (formative evaluation)
3. Making sense of the data - data analysis
(Week 10, 11, 12 and 13)
- Course materials (unit 3)
- Complementary texts depending on your course work regarding data gathering. These texts will be posted in our notice board, or uploaded in our file area at the beginning of this learning unit.
- Read material and post comments and questions
- Analyze your own gathered data. Submit your analysis (formative evaluation) deadline Jaunary 12.
- Write a short essay explaining how you have analyzed the data, and why you chose to do it that way. Submit to our continuous assessment mailbox. Deadline January, 12.
4. Relying on our data
(Week 14 and 15)
- Course materials
- Engage in a discussion in the space of debate about the validity, quality and reliability of qualitative data in general, and about your gathered and analyzed data in particular.
- Write a short essay regarding the quality, validity and reliability of your data.Deadline January, 24.(Formative evaluation)
5. Structuring the research proposal. OPTIONAL TASK
(Week 15, 16)
- Write a research proposal reflecting upon the contents you have learned during this course. Deadline January, 24.
My recommended (not compulsory!) structure is this one:
1. Short introduction (including justification of interest)
2. State of the art - literature review
3. Research question and objectives (and working hypothesis if you got one).
4. Analytical framework
(The text should not be any longer than 3000 words!)
This research proposal may be the same you shall submit in your research design course. I shall concentrate (for evaluation and feedback matters) on the Methods section and upon the coherence between these methods and your research question.
There are two kinds of evaluation in this course. There is summative evaluation (de facto unless otherwise stated) that will be evaluated by UOC staff dedicated to this modulle. The second kind of evaluation is formative. The work created by the students in the modulle will be evaluated by other students in the modulle. This is a different kind of evaluation that enables students to be able to collaborate with each other, it is going to be a blind evaluation. Formative evalution does not contribute to the final grade per se, but it is part of class participation and general involvement.
La Normativa acadèmica de la UOC disposa que el procés d'avaluació es fonamenta en el treball personal de l'estudiant i pressuposa l'autenticitat de l'autoria i l'originalitat dels exercicis fets.
La manca d'originalitat en l'autoria o el mal ús de les condicions en què es fa l'avaluació de l'assignatura és una infracció que pot tenir conseqüències acadèmiques greus.
L'estudiant serà qualificat amb un suspens (D/0) si es detecta manca d'originalitat en l'autoria d'alguna activitat avaluable (pràctica, prova d'avaluació contínua (PAC) o final (PAF), o la que es defineixi al pla docent), sigui perquè ha utilitzat material o dispositius no autoritzats, sigui perquè ha copiat textualment d'internet, o ha copiat d'apunts, de materials, de manuals o d'articles (sense la citació corresponent), d'altres estudiants, o per qualsevol altra conducta irregular.
La qualificació de suspens (D/0) en les qualificacions finals d'avaluació contínua pot comportar l'obligació de fer l'examen presencial per a superar l'assignatura (si hi ha examen i si superar-lo és suficient per a superar l'assignatura segons indiqui el pla docent).
Quan aquesta mala conducta es produeixi durant la realització de les proves d'avaluació finals presencials, l'estudiant pot ser expulsat de l'aula, i l'examinador farà constar tots els elements i la informació relatius al cas.
D'altra banda, aquesta conducta pot donar lloc a la incoació d'un procediment disciplinari i l'aplicació, si escau, de la sanció que correspongui.
La UOC habilitarà els mecanismes que consideri oportuns per a vetllar per la qualitat de les seves titulacions i garantir l'excel·lència i la qualitat del seu model educatiu.