Educational researchers and practitioners have experienced an unprecedented expansion of qualitative research in the last twenty years. This can be evidenced by a host of ‘new’ and established methods in practice; several subfields developed through special interests groups in international conferences; a growing number of journals dedicated to qualitative research; and handbooks published under the banner of qualitative research in different disciplines of education and social sciences. The expansion has added the much-anticipated complexity in conceiving, designing and carrying out qualitative research possibly because of competing interests, ideologies and perspectives arising from thinking and actions of educational researchers and practitioners. As a result, initial researchers can experience a number of contradictions, inconsistencies and anomalies in designing, legitimating and communicating the research. In a broad spectrum of qualitative research leading to recent development, nothing is given, nothing is free from interpretation, nothing is obvious, nothing is value-free, and nothing is final and complete, for all human enterprises are fallible and subject to continuous revisions.
In its multifarious traditions, the field itself has been evolving from within and without, for its evolution has been offering many unthinkable possibilities (e.g., poetic and collage inquiry). There are many ways to conduct research, many ways to produce data, many ways to perform analysis, and many ways to prepare a research report. A qualitative research project demands creativity from the side of the researcher. Indeed, you are not only applying a host of methods and techniques, but also adapting and expanding them in your own contexts of work.
Despite its use in a variety of contexts, the term, qualitative, can often be regarded as a cliché without offering a clearly oriented meaning. Specifically, a reductionist emphasis on methods, techniques, and data does not adequately represent the complexity of the field. And, the complexity has often been a challenge in teaching and learning courses in qualitative research. Out of many possibilities, we have chosen a paradigmatic approach by which to explore possibilities for educational research that we aim to expand further. Indeed, we do not claim that our organizing metaphor is full and final; rather it is one of many heuristics to organize our learning journey. In this process, we have identified six different modules to facilitate your and our learning process during this semester.