Qualitative Research Methods - Syllabus

Course Overview

Qualitative research methods typically gather information through interviews, questionnaires, observation, or a review of literature and art. Analysis methods vary for qualitative research, but there are extremely well-defined processes that will help the researcher to learn more about the event or phenomena being studied.

This course will describe some common methods of qualitative research and analysis techniques to gather information about psi phenomena outside of the laboratory environment. Through the review of articles and psi reports, the students will learn how qualitative research is performed and reported for paranormal and psi phenomena.

This academic course is designed for the serious student and qualifies for many certificate programs.

Course Outline

Week 1

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research

  • Introduction & structure of the course
  • What is quantitative research?
  • What is qualitative research?
  • Choosing a research paradigm: quantitative vs qualitative
  • Deductive vs inductive
  • Purpose of open ended responses (surveys or questions?)
  • Inquiry by observation vs interviews
  • Why qualitative parapsychology research?

Week 2

Design Strategies & Design Document

  • Naturalistic, Emergent, & Purposeful designs
  • Data collection approaches
  • Analysis approaches
  • Examples of possible qualitative research in parapsychology
  • Design Document Overview

Week 3

Five Approaches to Qualitative Research

  • Overview of 5 approaches
  • Narrative
  • Phenomenology (Part 1)
  • Examples in parapsychology
  • Designing Narrative/Phenomenology

Week 4


  • What is phenomenology?
  • Giorgi
  • Moustakas
  • Interpretive Phenomenology
  • Examples in parapsychology

Week 5

Grounded Theory & Ethnography

  • Grounded Theory
  • Ethnography
  • Examples in parapsychology
  • More design documents

Week 6

Case Study & Mixed Methods

  • Case Studies (vs. case reports)
  • Mixed Methods
  • Examples in parapsychology

Week 7

Reporting Qualitative Results

  • Reporting techniques
  • Personal approach
  • Consider the audience
  • Natural vs formal language
  • Examples in parapsychology
  • Review of design & reporting

Week 8

Validity, Reliability, and Evaluation

  • Introduction to evaluation of results
  • Validity
  • Reliability
  • Summary
  • Design document review

Course Materials

  • Text Book:
    Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: Choosing among five approaches
    by John W. Creswell
    2nd Ed. 2007 or later
  • Various articles selected by the instructor and provided for download throughout the course.

Course Activities

  • Students will be expected to view the class broadcasts or the recordings of the classes each week.
  • Students will be expected to participate in weekly discussion forums and activities. Each student will be expected to provide an original posting each week and to respond to at least one other student in the discussion forums. Greater participation in this area will be considered during class evaluations.
  • One multiple choice or short answer evaluations will be assigned after the 4th or 5th week of class.
  • The student will complete a basic design for Qualitative Research study including a research question, a choice for a methodological approach & analysis method, and a description of a reporting technique

Evaluation and Grading

Students who are taking the course for a grade will be assessed using a letter grade based on the standard letter grade format.

  • A (90-100)
  • B (80-89)
  • C (70-79)
  • D (60-69)
  • F (below 60)

Participation in the forums is a large component of the grading, and substantive postings are necessary to get full credit for each discussion topic.

The following activities will be considered to contribute to the courses as follows:

  • Discussions (5 points per week; Total 40%)
  • Assessment #1 (30%)
  • Experimental Design (30%)