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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2006

E 387N • Qualitative Research with Readers and Designers of Texts

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33955 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 102

Course Description

The past 20 years have brought an explosion of research in rhetoric and composition, with investigations of how people write and how to teach writing effectively. With the "interpretive turn" in the 1990s, those investigations have increasingly been informed by methods and methodologies adapted from anthropology, sociology, and related fields. More recently, qualitative methods from user-centered design have similarly begun to influence composition studies, particularly in the subfield of computers and writing. In this seminar, we will discuss the assumptions, methods, successes, and limitations of various strands of qualitative research, with special (but not exclusive) emphasis on participative and observational approaches employed in user-centered design. By the end of the seminar, students should be able to read current research critically and apply it to current issues in writing theory, practice, and pedagogy. They should also be able to design independent research projects by matching research questions to available approaches. We'll learn the details of conducting research from the proposal stage, through data collection, analysis, and presentation.

This course will be of interest to anyone who wants to find out more about research on writing--those who would like to conduct research, those who want to learn how to read the research and those who want some insights for teaching students at any level to analyze or write texts. While students who already have a research project in mind will be able to advance their work, no prior experience with research methods is expected.


Beyer, H., & Holtzblatt, K. (1998). Contextual design: Defining customer-centered systems. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc.

Corbin, Juliet M. & Strauss, Anselm. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory.


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