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Learning in the Field: An Introduction to Qualitative Research

Rossman, Gretchen B.; Rallis, Sharon F.

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This comprehensive introduction to qualitative methods reveals the complexity of the qualitative research enterprise in an engaging and accessible way.

The authors introduce readers to the fundamental tools that need to be mastered to gain proficiency as a researcher. They also examine the personal qualities needed in a good researcher, such as comfort with ambiguity and humility, and an abiding curiosity about, and respect for, the experiences of others.

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About the Author:

Gretchen B. Rossman is Professor of International Education at the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her PhD in education from the University of Pennsylvania with a specialization in higher education administration. She has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Prior to coming to the University of Massachusetts, she was Senior Research Associate at Research for Better Schools in Philadelphia. With an international reputation as a qualitative methodologist, she has expertise in qualitative research design and methods, mixed-methods monitoring and evaluation, and inquiry in education. Over the past 25 years, she has coauthored nine books, authored or coauthored more than 40 articles, book chapters, and technical reports focused on methodological issues in qualitative research syntheses, validity in qualitative research, mixed-methods evaluation practice, and ethical research practice, as well as the analysis and evaluation of educational reform initiatives both in the United States and internationally. Professor Rossman has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on several international projects in countries such as Azerbaijan, India, Malawi, and more, as well as external evaluator on several domestic projects, including a Department of Education-funded reform initiative, a National Science Foundation-funded middle-grades science initiative, and a number of projects implementing more inclusive practices for students with disabilities. She regularly presents papers at the annual meetings of the American Evaluation Association, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the Comparative and International Education Society. She recently completed a two-year term serving as program cochair (with Sharon Rallis) for the qualitative research section of AERA's Division on Research Methodology.

Sharon F. Rallis is Dwight W. Allen Distinguished Professor of Education Policy and Reform at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she is also director of the Center for Education Policy. Previously, she was professor of education at the University of Connecticut; lecturer on education at Harvard; and associate professor of educational leadership at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. Her doctorate is from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has co-authored ten books, including several on leadership: Principals of Dynamic Schools: Taking Charge of Change (with Ellen Goldring); Dynamic Teachers: Leaders of Change (with Gretchen Rossman); Leading Dynamic Schools: How to create and Implement Ethical Policies (with Gretchen Rossman and others); and Leading with Inquiry and Action: How Principals Improve Teaching and Learning (with Matthew Militello and Ellen Goldring). Her numerous articles, book chapters, edited volumes, and technical reports address issues of research and evaluation methodology, ethical practice in research and evaluation, education policy and leadership, and school reform.

A past-president of the American Evaluation Association (2005), Rallis has been involved with education and evaluation for over three decades. She has been a teacher, counselor, principal, researcher, program evaluator, director of a major federal school reform initiative, and an elected school board member. Currently, her teaching includes courses on inquiry, program evaluation, qualitative methodology, and organizational theory. Her research has focused on the local implementation of programs driven by federal, state, or district policies. As external evaluator or principal investigator (PI), she has studied a variety of domestic and international policy and reform efforts, such as: alternative professional development for leaders; collaborations between agencies responsible for educating incarcerated or institutionalized youth; initiatives supporting inclusive education for children and youth with disabilities; local school governance and leadership; labor-management relations in school districts. Rallis’ work with students on evaluation and qualitative methodology has taken her as far as Afghanistan and Palestine.

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Rossman, Gretchen B.; Rallis, Sharon F. Author
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