LAS 381 • QUALITATIVE ANAL IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCE
6:00 PM-9:00 PM
This graduate seminar is designed to complement existing courses on quantitative techniques of data collection and analysis that already exist at the LBJ School and at the Sociology and Geography departments. Specifically, the aim is to develop awareness and expertise in a range of more qualitative survey research methods, approaches and designs, ranging from participant observational techniques through semi-structured interviewing to more formal questionnaire and census type surveys. The course will also address issues of research project design and targeting, sampling, ethnography, case studies, ethics, data and informational handling arising from the different techniques, as well as the preparation of final reports based upon social survey analysis. Among the specific methods in which training will be offered are: Observational Techniques (participant, "mass", focus groups, social monitoring, etc.); Content Analysis; Focus Groups; "Elite"/Key Informant Interviewing; Questionnaire Design and Application; Behavioral/Psychological testing (TAT Tests, Repertory Grids etc.). It is designed particularly with first- and second-year Ph.D. students in mind, but is also highly relevant for LLILAS and Public Affairs Masters students (either beginning or working on their PR/dissertation years). Working in small groups, students will be required to develop a real research design around a suitable topic that will be used throughout the semester, embracing each of the techniques in turn. Thus, a primary part of the course will be to develop "hands-on" experience in adapting each technique to that individual research design. The research question identified usually will be a project for which no definitive outcome is expected, other than that of developing the training exercises itself. Most classes will involve a mixture of formal lecture around pre-circulated notes that is designed to foster class discussion, followed by preparation of one or other of the various techniques. Thus, there will be a substantial practical component to this course outside of class hours as students develop and apply each technique as part of their own mini research design agenda. All students will need to log onto the Blackboard, since this will be the principal mechanism for information dissemination, and group liaison.