2014 - 2015

  Qualitative Research Methods in Geography                                                            
Prof. Izhak SchnellYad Avner - Geography115Tue1400-1600 Sem  1
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description
The goal of the course is to expose students to the main principles of constructivist qualitative research methods and their application to geography. Use will be made of the textbook Words of Meaning, written by A. Shkedi. Many examples of empirical research will be discussed in class while methodological and ethical dilemmas.
Class discussions will be held on the following subjects:
Week 1: Theoretical perspectives of qualitative research: existential-phenomenological, hermeneutic ethnographic and post-modern world views as the main intellectual foundations for qualitative research methods. The ideas presented in the course Perspectives in Geographic Thought will be summarized.
Week 2: Basic assumptions of qualitative-constructivist research methods. Basic ontological, epistemological and methodological issues concerning the research paradigm.
Week 3: Formulation research questions and procedures. How to formulate different types of research questions and develop a systematic conceptual research perspective.
Week 4: Data Collection I: The main problems related to data collection, such as the researcher's involvement in the process, the impact of cultural contexts on research and the principle of openness.
Week 5: Data Collection II: Methods of collection in ethnographic research based mainly on observations.
Week 6: Data Collection III: The conduct of open-ended interviews.
Week 7: Data Collection IV: The use of Delphi tests in research. The method will be demonstrated by means of a group exercise in class.
Week 8: Main principles of data analysis including selected issues such as the purpose of the analysis, what is meant by explanation, the interactive character of the analysis, etc..
Week 9: Building analytic categories. Main stages in categorization from constructing associatively interpretative qualitative categories to selection, organization and naming of the categories. The importance of constituting categories arising from the field in the first stages of the research and their comparison to existing theoretical frameworks at the final stages will be stressed. Several examples of research confronting the major dilemmas in category construction will be presented in class.
Week 10: Narrative analysis. Main principles and examples of selected studies that apply different styles of narrative will be presented in class.
Week 11: Text interpretation. Main principles of hermeneutic and post-modern interpretation of written texts. Dilemmas associated with these methods, such as the authority to interpret, over-interpretation and so forth will be discussed.
Week 13: Interpretation of maps.
Week 14: Interpretation of art works.

1. Kitchin, R., Tate, N. 2000 Conducting Research in Geography, Prentice hall: Essex. Cha. 7-11.
2. Leuenberger, C., Schnell, I. 2010 The politics of maps: Constructing national territories in Israel, Social Studies of Science, 4.
3. Shkedi, A. 2003 Words of Meaning, Ramot - Tel Aviv University Press: Tel Aviv.
4. A selection of 4-5 articles that apply qualitative methods in their work. The papers are selected yearly from the repertoire of articles written during the current year. Each article demonstrates a different research model.

Participation in 80 % of class sessions.
Methodological Critique of 3 articles, with each demonstrating a different methodology: 20%.
Final research paper: 80%.

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