Interpretive methods of research and analysis play a role in educational research in two different senses.  In one sense, they are used in many disciplines and fields as primary means to creating a narrative, making meaning, or making cultural or policy critiques.  For example, in humanistic studies of education, such as philosophy of education and history of education, the interpretation of texts, events, human actions, narratives, and concepts forms the basis of research.  In these or other cases, the analysis of language can play a central role.  In legal analysis in education, for example, the use of interpretive methods involves the analysis of case law, legislation, and administrative policy.  In cultural studies or discourse analysis in education, the interpretation of culture, practices and artifacts, or language itself plays a central role in studying social patterns of inclusion, exclusion, and the dynamics of power.  In some varieties of curriculum theory, the interpretation of textbooks and other materials plays a key role in explaining how society reflects judgments about knowledge and value in their curricular choices.  In the history of education, the interpretive research approach yields valuable insights regarding mastery of historical research methods (e.g., oral history, review of original source documents), but also in terms of knowledge about the major interpretive debates in the field that have shaped the scholarship and focus of historical research in education. 

The Interpretive Research focus area: 

  1. Provides a foundation for students to be able to understand general methodological issues and problems in educational research;
  2. Includes basic course work in conceptual analysis, documentary and other kinds of discursive analysis, and epistemological analysis;
  3. Emphasizes coursework that connects method to disciplinary study;
  4. Helps students develop critical and interpretive tools to be used to analyze both the limitations of educational research itself and substantive problems in the field of educational policy and practice;
  5. Prepares students to interpret and analyze a variety of texts and other cultural artifacts, including but not limited to documents, curricula, discursive products, film, theory, policy, and law; and,
  6. Provides students with opportunities to develop skills they will use as independent researchers-either using interpretive methods alone or in conjunction with other research skills. 

This focus area is most useful for students in humanistic disciplines (e.g., philosophy of education, history of education, curriculum theory, cultural or literary studies, or policy and legal analysis). 


Foundational Methods Course (4 hours)

All students entering fall 2015 or later, will take a Foundational Methods Course.  It is recommended that students take this introductory foundations course in their first year of the doctoral program.

 Currently available: 
CI 550/EPSY 573/SPED 550: Methods of Educational Inquiry

 Basic Courses (4-8 hours)

The student must take 4-8 basic research hours. It is recommended that a student take a course from the following list and a basic quantitative course, such as CI 590 Quantitative Research Literacy.

ANTH 411/EPSY 465 Methods of Cultural Anthropology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: QRM Qualitative Research Methodology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: AR Action Research
CI 519 Methods of Child Study
CI 580 QRL Qualitative Research in Language and Literacy Education
EPS 515 Philosophy and Educational Research
EPS 585 Ethnographic Methods
EPSY 490E Case Study Research Methods
EPSY 577 Foundations of Qualitative Methods
EPSY 578 Qualitative Inquiry Methods
GWS 570/SOC 520 Fem Research Soc Sci
HCD 591 Qualitative Methods 

Advanced Courses (8 hours)

AFRO AM 479 Black Freedom Movement 1955-Present
ARTH 593 Theory and Methodology
CINE 461 Film Theory and Criticism
COMM 582 Res Meth in Adv and Comm
CWL 590 Contemp Crit Methods & Theory
ENGL 500 Introduction to Criticism & Research
EOL 547 Educational Law
EPS 503 Seminar in the History of Ed
EPS 510 Traditions in Philosophy of Education
EPS 512 Western Educational Classics
EPS 513 Philosophical Aesthetics and Ed
EPS 517 Ethics and Education
EPS/COMM 575 Cult Studies and Crit Interp
GWS 432 Gender & Language
GWS 435 Comodifying Difference
GWS 480 Gender Roles & Inter. Devl.
GWS 550 Fem Theories Humanities
SOC 501 Contemp. Soc. Theory
SOC 583 Qualitative Methods
SOC 586 Field and Qualitative Methods