The Research Journey

Introduction to Inquiry

Sharon F. Rallis and Gretchen B. Rossman
Foreword by Thomas A. Schwandt

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March 28, 2012
ISBN 9781462505142
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190 Pages
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Designed to foster “inquiry-mindedness,” this book prepares graduate students to develop a conceptual framework and conduct inquiry projects that are linked to ongoing conversations in a field. The authors examine different ways of knowing and show how to identify a research question; build arguments and support them with evidence; make informed design decisions; engage in reflective, ethical practices; and produce a written proposal or report. Each chapter opens with a set of critical questions, followed by a dialogue among five fictional graduate students exploring questions and concerns about their own inquiry projects; these issues are revisited throughout the chapter. Other useful features include end-of-chapter learning activities for individual or group use.

Useful pedagogical features include:

“This book can easily fit into a research course. It is easy to understand, and the learning activities are excellent for stimulating discussion and assessing understanding. 5 stars.”

Doody's Reviews


“Wow! I was impressed by the quality of the content, the readability and flow, and the apt use of the journey metaphor. This book will serve as a key resource for education and other social science graduate students conducting research projects or for professionals writing research grant proposals for funding. Through dialogue, example, activity, and exploration, the authors illustrate that research can be engaging and fun. Each chapter has one or more reflective activities that guide readers to apply the principles presented, work collaboratively in learning groups, develop a conceptual framework for a project, and learn to generate knowledge through systematic inquiry. The activities help students navigate the entire inquiry process, from problem selection to written report. I will recommend this book to my doctoral students at the dissertation stage. The chapter on conceptual frameworks is priceless.”

—Eleni Coukos Elder, EdD, Department of Educational Administration, Tennessee State University


“This book offers a practical overview of basic skills required for the budding researcher in the social sciences. A major theme is promoting the development of an open, inquisitive, reflective stance that enables the researcher to take in new information and generate knowledge. Each chapter offers succinct information and examples and poses questions suitable for seminar discussion. In the research design chapter, weaving a fictional student's thinking about her project into the discussion to illustrate key points is quite effective. This book promises to be a useful supplement for research design and methods courses.”

—Arlene Bowers Andrews, PhD, Carolina Distinguished Professor, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina


“The best among a new generation of texts that helps the student learn to think like a scholar and researcher. In a single, readable volume, Rallis and Rossman distill key ideas and conceptual frameworks that currently require several textbooks and readings in my classes. They do so without getting entangled in arcane or overly technical arguments. The vignettes, examples, and exercises will help advanced graduate students and junior researchers to apply the concepts across the social and behavioral sciences, in both applied and pure fields of inquiry.”

—David N. Boote, PhD, School of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, and Department of Educational and Human Sciences, University of Central Florida


“The book does an excellent job—especially through the exercises—of unblocking the thinking and writing of terrified graduate students.”

—Sande Milton, College of Education, Florida State University

Table of Contents

1. Inquiry as Learning: Beginning the Journey

Introduction

What Is Inquiry?

The Learner as Knowledge Generator

Drawing on Values and Passion

Your Journey into Systematic Inquiry

For Further Reading

2. Ways of Knowing: Finding a Compass

Ways of Knowing

Fundamental Assumptions

Mapping Perspectives

Back to Ontology and Epistemology

For Further Reading

3. The Cycle of Inquiry: More Than One Way to Get There

Inquiry in Action/Inquiry as Practice

The Systematic Inquiry Cycle

Validity, Credibility, and Trustworthiness

For Further Reading

4. Being an Ethical Inquirer: Staying Alert on the Road

Ethics in Inquiry

The Inquirer as a Moral Practitioner

Standards for Practice and Procedural Matters

Ethics, Trustworthiness, and Rigor

Ethical Theories

Ethics and Reflexivity

For Further Reading

5. Constructing Conceptual Frameworks: Building the Route

What Is a Conceptual Framework?

Building an Argument

Entering the Conversation: Your Community of Practice

Entering the Conversation: Your Engagement

Entering the Conversation: The Communities of Discourse

Ways of Organizing

Chapter Summary

For Further Reading

6. Designing the Inquiry Project: Finding “True North”

Moving from the Conceptual Framework into Design

Considering Various Designs

Samira’s Research Questions and Possible Designs

A Short Course on Research Methods

Planning for Analysis and Interpretation

The Research Proposal: Bringing it All Together

An Example of Connecting the What and the How

Chapter Summary

For Further Reading

7. Things to Consider in Writing: Staying in the Right Lane

Writing Introductions

The Nasty Problem of Plagiarism

Using Proper Citation Format

For Further Reading

8. Knowledge Use: Arriving at Your Destination

Using What You have Learned

Who Cares?: Potential Audiences

Communicating for Use

Passions and Closing the Loop

For Further Reading


About the Authors

Sharon F. Rallis is Dwight W. Allen Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and Reform at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is also Director of the Center for Education Policy. Dr. Rallis has coauthored 10 books, including several on leadership. Her interests include research and evaluation methodology, ethical practice in research and evaluation, education policy and leadership, and school reform. A past president of the American Evaluation Association, Dr. Rallis has been involved with education and evaluation for over three decades as a teacher, counselor, principal, researcher, program evaluator, director of a major federal school reform initiative, and an elected school board member.
 
Gretchen B. Rossman is Chair of the Department of Educational Policy, Research and Administration and Professor of International Education at the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her work focuses on qualitative research design and methods, mixed methods monitoring and evaluation, and inquiry in education, including the analysis and evaluation of educational reform initiatives both in the United States and internationally. She has coauthored nine books, including the major qualitative research texts Learning in the Field (with Sharon F. Rallis) and Designing Qualitative Research (with Catherine Marshall).

Audience

Graduate students and instructors in education, social work, psychology, and human development and family studies; applied researchers who want to improve their proposals.

Course Use

Will serve as a core or supplemental text in master's- and doctoral-level introduction to research or inquiry courses, and in the capstone course in degree programs.