Qualitative Research Methods

Course Description

Introduction to qualitative research methods that contribute to the insight and depth of our understanding of communication. Focuses on qualitative research methods including in-depth interviewing, focus groups, case studies, participant observation, and textual analysis. Students will design and conduct an exploratory qualitative study and write a scholarly essay answering a communication question using qualitative research methods. Prerequisites: COMM-101 or COMM-102 and COMM-190. May be taken concurrently with COMM-202. 4 SH. CC: Writing Intensive

Department of Communications Mission Statement and Encompassing Theme

The Department of Communications seeks to lead students to an understanding of the theory, practice, and ethical implications of their chosen field in keeping with the university’s liberal arts mission to educate undergraduate students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse and interconnected world. The fields of communication focus on how people use messages `to generate meaning within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, performances, and media. The fields promote effective and ethical practice.

The Department of Communications requires a cumulative portfolio as part of your senior capstone course. Be sure to save the syllabi, assignments, tests, and papers from your Communications courses to use in that portfolio.

Note: Students taking this course to meet the requirements of the Broadcasting major or minor must earn a final grade of 70% or better to meet the department’s requirements for graduation.

Writing Intensive CC Goals

The purpose of Writing Intensive courses is to help students further hone their writing skills. These courses are often part of a student’s major.

  1. Employing rhetorical and organizational strategies appropriate for the assignments and discipline. (ULG 2a)
  2. Critically selecting and integrating sources and/or ideas. (ULG 2c, 2d)
  3. Learn from and respond to criticism of rhetorical and organizational strategies in their own writing. (ULG 3a, 3b)


Plagiarism is not only theft but counterfeit. Students caught plagiarizing will receive an F for the assignment and the course. You may also face further disciplinary action, including and up to expulsion. It is up to you to familiarize yourself with Susquehanna University’s Code of Student Conduct. Students should use proper citations to indicate quotes, summations, and paraphrases. You may use any citation style as long as it is consistent. If you have any concerns or confusions, please ask me.


Students in need of accommodations for disabilities should see or contact the Offices of Disability Services, 570-372-4340, Fisher Hall 204. Please reach out to if you suspect you may have or have been diagnosed with a disability to see what assistance is available.

Information about Counseling Services

The Susquehanna University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff understand the importance of having an anchor during these fluid and challenging times. Therefore, CAPS has expanded mental health and wellness services for all students. The campus office (606 University Ave) is available to see students in person between the hours of 8:30AM and 5:00PM, Monday through Friday. The office is closed from 12:00-1:00PM for lunch. If you would like to schedule a triage appointment, please click this link: https://susquehanna.titaniumhwc.com/.

If you need to speak to a therapist immediately, please come to 606 University Ave, and a therapist will be in open hours to meet with you, or call 570-372-4751 or email counseling@susqu.edu. If you need to speak to a therapist after hours, please call 570-372-4751, and select option 2, for our on-call therapist.


The university is determining if our Learning Management System should be switched. While we have used Blackboard in the past, a few courses will pilot courses. This is one of those courses. As a result, you will need to remember to login to Canvas along with Blackboard to follow along in this class: https://susqu.instructure.com/.

Required Texts

Because the majority of our work will be hands-on, you are not expected to have any required texts for this course.

Attendance Policy

You are expected to come to class on-time and having completed the work. You may miss up to two classes without penalty. After that, you will lose three points from your final grade for each additional absence.

Assignments and Grades

For each assignment, I will provide you a detailed assignment sheet in class with more information about what is required. Each assignment is due at midnight unless otherwise stated:

  • (5%) Research Question and Purpose
  • (15%) Literature Review/Annotated Bibliography
  • (20%) Research Proposal
  • (10%) Paper Outline
  • (10%) Oral Presentation
  • (40%) Final Paper

Syllabus Policy

I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus and often do based on the direction of our discussion. Make sure that you check your email regularly so that you are aware of these changes as you will still be responsible for all assigned materials.

Weekly Class Schedule

Week 1-Introduction and Overview

  • Tuesday-Course Overview
  • Thursday-Basics of Qualitative Research

Week 2-Library Tour and Software Resources

  • Tuesday-Library Tour (Meet in Blough Weis Library 104/Please Bring Laptop)
  • Thursday-Software Resources (Please Bring Laptop)

Week 3-Research Purpose and Studyq

  • Tuesday-Research Study
  • Thursday-Research Purpose

Week 4-Literature Review/Annotated Bibliography

  • Tuesday-Literature Review/Annotated Bibliography
  • Thusrday-Literature Review/Annotated Bibliography; Research Question and Purpose Due

Week 5-Semiotics and Poststructuralism Methodologies

  • Tuesday-Semiotics
  • Thursday-Poststructuralism; Annotated Bibliography/Literature Review Due

Week 6-Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis

  • Tuesday-Rhetorical Analysis
  • Thursday-Discourse Analysis

Week 7-Interviews and Research Ethics

  • Tuesday-Interviews
  • Thursday-Research Ethics

Week 8-Research Proposals

  • Tuesday-No Class/Work on Proposals
  • Thursday-No Class/Mid-Term Break; Research Proposals Due

Week 9-Ethnography and Netnography

  • Tuesday-Ethnography
  • Thursday-Netnography

Week 10-Historical Methodology

  • Tuesday-Sources and Historical Theories
  • Thursday-Historical Methods Workshop

    Paper Outline Due

Week 11-Qualitative Methods on Race

  • Tuesday-Phenemonology and Critical Race Theory
  • Thursday-Colorblindness and Whiteness Studies

Week 12-Qualitative Methods on Gender

  • Tuesday-Feminism
  • Thursday-Masculinity Studies and Queer Theory

Week 13-Oral Presentations

  • Tuesday-Oral Presentations; Oral Presentations Due
  • Thursday-No Class/Thanksgiving Break

Week 14-Work on Final Research Papers

  • Tuesday-No Class/Work on Final Papers
  • Thursday-No Class/Work on Final Papers

Week 15-Work on Final Research Papers

  • Tuesday-No Class/Work on Final Papers
  • Thursday-No Class/Work on Final Papers

Final Papers Due at Exam Time