EELB 722

Enrique G. Murillo, Jr., Ph.D.

College of Education

EELB 722 - Murillo Syllabus


Course Overview/Purpose/Design 


In this advanced course, we will focus in-depth on issues in qualitative research, and in particular ethnography and critical ethnography.  Since critical ethnography offers both a way of applying a subversive worldview to the conventional logic of cultural inquiry and a more direct style of thinking about the relationships among knowledge, society, and political action, central to this work is the interrogation of power, race, social structures, and institutions. Critical ethnography describes, analyzes, and opens to scrutiny otherwise hidden agendas, power centers, and assumptions that inhibit, repress, and constrain.


Throughout the course of the quarter, we will interrogate and disrupt our own assumptions and “taken for granteds” as well as the assumptions embedded in qualitative research in general. 

This course is designed to provide you opportunities to reflect, explore, understand, and broaden perspectives on social theory, issues of power and privilege, including race, gender, and class, in qualitative educational research.  We will discuss and critique “conventional ethnography,” critical ethnography, and discuss the possibilities of “post-critical ethnography.” 


We will be looking at a variety of different types of qualitative research with the end goals of better understanding the research process, uncovering the nature of information that can be learned from research studies, and learning how to read, assess, and plan a qualitative research project.  We will also look at a variety of different research related concerns, including issues of readability, reliability, validity, relevance, strategies, standards and methods, ethics and diversity. Attention will also be paid to the competing paradigms associated with quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and skills, but only in so much as how one chooses to investigate particular phenomenon and/or the world around them is necessarily impacted by their fundamental philosophical assumptions of the world. Particularly important are epistemological assumptions (how we come to know something), ontological assumptions (what is the nature of the world?), paradigms (models or frameworks that are derived from a worldview or belief system), and methodology (how we gain knowledge about the world).


This course will allow students to refine the techniques they learned in the first part of the course and to reflect on the philosophical and ethical implications of this type of research for the field and for themselves as individuals. It is expected that each student will design (and implement) either a new study or an elaboration of a study already begun last quarter, so as to complete their doctoral dissertation. This involves selecting a site, obtaining permission(s) and signed contract(s), designing the length and frequency of the observations, planning the focus of the interviews, selecting interviewees, analyzing data concurrently with its acquisition and presenting your codes, categories, themes, and main assertions to the class.



Course Rationale/Competencies


The increasing use of research methods and scholarship as a basis for knowledge and understanding about patterns and dynamic processes of education and schooling, and for influencing programs, policy and decisions requires educators and educational scholars to possess research skills and sensibilities.  Additionally, the worlds of meaning and becoming are most accessible to human scientists through qualitative methods of inquiry. Through ongoing exploration of significant qualitative methods, in particular, grounded theory, phenomenology, case study, and ethnography, students will become increasingly confident and competent in the applications of these approaches in their own work.


The related competencies for this course are:

Strong interpersonal skills: Must have the ability to quickly and effectively build rapport and obtain the trust and cooperation of informants;

Must be must be able to interact with informants in an interested, courteous, and understanding way;

Must be culturally open; 

Must have the ability to as listen intently and ask the right questions in order to get richly detailed responses;

Attention to detail and ability to think abstractly:  Must systematically report cultural data and be able to recognize significant cultural events;

Strong writing skills: Must have the ability to write detailed and insightful reports. 



Course Goals/Objectives


The basic goals of research are to produce both new knowledge and greater understanding. We will begin by trying to understand these purposes and goals. Further, this advanced course focuses on the needs of doctoral students immersed in qualitative research, with an emphasis on data analysis and interpretation.  It is designed to help you develop capacities for becoming analytic, critical, and compassionate researchers and educational practitioners. How qualitative findings are reproduced and represented, in writing and in other forms, will also be a course focus. In-depth analysis distinguishes this course from the first qualitative course.


Therefore, this course has the following objectives for students:

Translate data gathered through a series of activities into analyses and interpretations;

Critically examine specific studies and interpret different methodological genres;

Consider their positions, subjectivity and how they represent qualitative data as authors;

Examine personal knowledge about, experiences with, and attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward diverse populations;

Understand others from their own interpretive worlds. Learn to see the world from the perspective of others;

Understand the pragmatics and ethics of designing, conducting, and analyzing a qualitative research project;

Appreciate writing as a fundamental act of qualitative research.

Develop a solid understanding of the qualitative research process as a whole and the methods available to the qualitative researcher;

Describe critically the historical development of qualitative research and its relation to other research approaches in the human sciences;

Describe critically the qualitative research processes of question formulation, data production, data analysis, and report writing;

Explain the reasoning procedures that make up the argument used to develop conclusions in qualitative research;

Capable of conducting an analysis of qualitative data at an advanced level;

Capable of writing a critical evaluation of a qualitative research report at an advanced level.



Professional Standards, Principles and Codes


Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, DHHS’ 45 CFR 46. (

Human Subjects Review:

- Universities and research organizations in the U.S. are required to follow a set of regulations known as "the Common Rule" (technically, "Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects," DHHS' 45 CFR 46 or the equivalent regulations for other federal agencies) when they receive federal support. The Common Rule specifies how Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are to function.

- All ethnographic researchers should cultivate a strong foundation for the ethical conduct of research with human populations. This means that the risks of harm must be considered in relation to the potential benefits of ethnographic research. This process should actively involve the researcher and the IRB, the researcher and participants, and finally the IRB, the researcher and stakeholders.

- Any data used in this course must have some kind of IRB clearance unless it is publicly available information or otherwise designated by IRB as material not requiring review. Consult with the IRB director with any questions about this;    Students who already have their own IRB clearances for qualitative research projects may, at the instructor’s discretion, use that material for class assignments.



Qualitative Research Guidelines Project, July 2006. (

Qualitative researchers uphold the following standards in the conduct of research involving human subjects:

- Consider, identify, and resolve conflicts of interest that might affect research participants, researchers, institutions, and research outcomes.

- Understand and use valid study designs for qualitative inquiry that respect the rights of individuals and protect the well being of research participants.

- Apply standards of minimal risk as set forth in the Common Rule for the protection of human subjects in the conduct and practice of research.

- Involve and recruit participants according to best practices for weighing risks to individuals and benefits to society.

- Document their plans in study proposals for fulfilling responsibilities to research, institutions, sponsors, and participants.

- Respect participants’ autonomy and the voluntary nature of participation and document the informed consent processes that are foundational to qualitative inquiry.

- Provide for and encourage communication with participants and respond to respondents’ requests for information, withdrawal, or modifications to consent agreements in a timely and appropriate manner.

- Design and conduct qualitative studies in compliance with federal and local institutional requirements for the protection of human subjects in research


Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association, Approved June 1998. (

Excerpt from section III, on Research: 

              - In both proposing and carrying out research, anthropological {qualitative} researchers must be open  about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for research projects with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and with relevant parties affected by the research. Researchers must expect to utilize the results of their work in an appropriate fashion and disseminate the results through appropriate and timely activities. Research fulfilling these expectations is ethical, regardless of the source of funding (public or private) or purpose (i.e., "applied," "basic,"  "pure," or "proprietary").


Council of Learned Societies in Education. (

Principle #1: The educator understands and can apply disciplinary knowledge from the humanities and social sciences to interpreting the meanings of education and schooling in diverse cultural contexts:

- Knowledge:  The educator has acquired a knowledge base of resources, theories, distinctions, and analytic techniques developed within the humanities, the social sciences, and the foundations of education. The educator understands the central concepts and tools of inquiry of foundational disciplines that bear on the educational process and can apply these to the formulation and review of instructional, administrative, and school leadership and governance procedures.

- Dispositions: The educator has developed habits of using this knowledge base in evaluating and formulating educational practice.

- Performances: The educator can examine and explain the practice, leadership, and governance of education in different societies in light of its origins, major influences, and consequences, utilizing critical understanding of educational thought and practice and of the decisions and events which have shaped them.

Principle #6: The educator understands how philosophical and moral commitments affect the process of evaluation at all levels of schooling practice, leadership, and governance:

- Knowledge: The educator understands the tacit interests and moral commitments on which the technical processes of evaluation rest. The educator understands that in choosing a measuring device, one necessarily makes moral and philosophical assumptions.

- Dispositions: The educator is prepared to consider the ontological, epistemological, and ethical components of an evaluation method.

- Performances: The educator can articulate moral and philosophical assumptions underlying an evaluation process. The educator can identify what counts as evidence that a student has (or has not) learned or can (or cannot) learn.


NCATE 2008 Standards. (

Standard 1 – Candidate Performance:

- Candidates preparing to work in schools as teachers or other professional school personnel know and demonstrate the content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Assessments indicate that candidates meet professional, state, and institutional standards.

- Target: Candidates develop the ability to apply research and research methods.

- Candidates will be able to utilize technology.

- Target: Candidates will collect and analyze data related to their work, reflect on their practice, and use research and technology to support and improve student learning.



Course Readings - Journal Articles/Textbooks/Bibliography


        1) Madison, D. Soyini (2nd Edition, 2011, paperback) Critical Ethnography: Methods, Ethics, and Performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN: 9781412980241


        2) Noblit, G. W., Flores, S.Y.  &  Murillo, Jr., E.G. (eds.) (2004, paperback) Postcritical Ethnography in Education. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.   ISBN: 9781572734760

                                              * In compliance with the Faculty Senate Policy on Course Material (FSD 00-16, April 2001), any monies received from the sale of this book,

                                     resulting as the material selection for this course, will be turned over to the department, college, university or a recognized charitable organization.     (


        3) WOLCOTT, Harry F. Writing Up Qualitative Research (3rd ed., 2008, paperback). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN: 9781412970112


        4) Denzin, N.K., Lincoln, Y.S. (eds.) (3rd Edition, 2005). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  ISBN: 9780761927570

                                              * Please note that although this handbook contains more than 1,000 pages of dense, contemporary scholarship, it will constitute one of the

                                      primary sources for classroom discussions and provide citations for future research. The assigned readings/chapters from this handbook will be different from the first qualitative course.


Course Requirements


1)                         Preparation and Attendance                                                                – 10 points


2)                         In-Class Participation / Journal                                                             – 20 points


3)                         Mini-Proposal    (due Session 4)                                                          – 20 points


4)                         Positionality Statement    (due Session 7)                                              – 20 points


5)                         Qualitative “Design of Study” Framework / Presentation                        – 30 points

                              (due session 10)




                                                                                                                                       100 points total



Course Evaluation Plan


In all participation and assignments (whether in-class or out-of-class), I am looking for evidence of:

understanding and application of facts, concepts, terms, and processes learned/read/discussed in class;

demonstration of substantial knowledge and higher order thinking and analytic skills;

              –            critical reflexivity, i.e., “wrestling” with issues and topics;

              –            frequent and appropriate use of new and reconstituted knowledge learned in class;

              –            imaginative thinking and responses to challenges/problems/issues;

“reading between the lines” and “digging” into underlying assumptions about knowledge production;

clarity of expression and logical connection among ideas expressed;

dispositions that suggest respect, charity, tactfulness and responsibility;

              –            scholarly writing that reflects precise and concise thinking;

              –            no or few errors in grammar, syntax, and spelling; and

where methodologically appropriate, general format and reference style consistent with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) and CSUSB College of Education.


The grade assignment, based on a 100 point evaluation, is as follows:

              A:       94 - 100               A-:         90 - 93                

              B+:     87 - 89                  B:        83 - 86                 B-:   80 - 82      

              C+:     77 - 79                  C:        73 - 76                 C-:   70 - 72                    

              D:          65 -69   

              F:        64 and below



Policies and Rules


I hope our time together can be not only painless and informative, but also fun and interesting.  However I expect you to respect the following rules.

1) You must come to class prepared to discuss in detail the readings and topics assigned.

2) All written assignments must be typed with cover page, headings, double spaced, paginated and stapled. 

3) Late papers / assignments will not be accepted, except by approval of the professor. Approval must be arranged ahead of time. You will lose 5 assignment grade-points per class session beyond the due date.  Therefore, complete work as early as possible to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes this means that shaky and on time is better than late and great.

3) If an emergency arises, it is your responsibility to advise me ASAP via voice or E-mail.

4) It is also your responsibility to sign in after every class meeting to receive credit for the attendance and participation component.

5) It is expected that chauvinist language (racist, sexist, etc...) be avoided.

6) Automatic failure will result from cheating, submitting work prepared by another, or plagiarism.

7) Remain respectful of others, no disruptive behavior.

8) There are no late final projects!!!

9) Be advised that the out-of-class-time requirements for this course are very heavy. As you read the syllabus, please pay close attention to these requirements. Make sure that your course load for this quarter and / or your job hours will permit you to devote the necessary time to be successful in this course.