Women's Studies 584:
Feminist Research Methodologies
Spring 2000

Wednesdays 12:00-2:30
Harvill 315
Women's Studies Department
University of Arizona
revised 13 February 2001

Instructor: Kari McBride
Office: Comm 110
Office Hours: M 2-3, F 10-11, and by appointment
Phone: 621-7340
Email: kari@u.arizona.edu

Librarian: Ruth Dickstein
Office: Main Library
Phone: 621-4866
Email: dicksteinr@u.library.arizona.edu

This course considers some epistemological assumptions underlying the research and theoretical projects of traditional disciplines and explores feminist adaptations and critiques of these assumptions. Students will also gain practical research skills using various information resources and indexes. As their final project for the course, students will write a proposal for a significant research project (like a thesis) informed by course readings and discussions.

The course structure is modeled on Carol Collier Kuhlthau's "Model of the Information Search Process," which tracks researchers' actions and affects through the research and writing process.

Required Books and Materials
Joseph A. Maxwell. Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach
Liz Stanley, ed. Feminist Praxis: Research, Theory and Epistemology in Feminist Sociology
Electronic Reserve materials (require a password)
A writer's handbook (Turabian, Chicago, MLA, as appropriate to your field)
Zip disk

Course Requirements
Memos                                                                                          20%
Response to Guest Presentation                                             10%
Research Overview  (including annotated bibliography)  20%
Proposal                                                                                       40%
In-class presentation of Proposal                                            10%

Daily Syllabus
The information search process is a complex process of construction in which students progress from uncertainty to understanding. Uncertainty, confusion, and frustration are associated with vague, unclear thoughts about a topic or problem. As thoughts become more clearly focused, students report increased confidence and feeling more sure, satisfied, and relieved.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Maxwell=Qualitative Research Design
Stanley=Feminist Praxis
RES=Electronic Reserve materials (requiring password)

Stage 1: Initiation

The search process begins with the announcement of the research assignment, which frequently causes students to express feelings of uncertainty and apprehension.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Jan 12: meet in Comm 108; move to Library 315
In class: Introduction to each other and to the course. Kuhlthau's "Model of the Information Search Process." Web skills: Electronic Reserve, Sabio, the language of search strategies. Flash feedback on the research process.

Stage 2: Selection

In the second stage of the search process students select topics to research. They frequently feel uncertain until they have made their choices and then express a brief elation after their selections.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Jan 19: meet in Library 315
For class: Sign on to class list (send the message subscribe ws584 yourfirstname yourlastname to listserv@listserv.arizona.edu; note that there is no space between ws and 584). Read Kuhlthau, "Students and the Information Search Process" (RES); Stanley 3-19. Come to class prepared to share the topic you propose to investigate this semester.
Memo 1: Reflect on your response to the assignment and the present state of your plans for the course project, making use of Kuhlthau's Search Model if that seems helpful.
In class: The research process. Critical reading modes and techniques. The politics of academic production. Exploring your topic. Research skills: electronic indexes. Flash feedback on the research process.

Stage 3: Exploration

The third stage, when students explore information to learn about their topics, is often the most difficult. As they seek information, they are likely to become increasingly confused by the inconsistency and incompatibility they encounter among different sources and with their own preconceived notions. Feelings of doubt concerning their topics are prevalent, as well as doubt in their ability to do the assignment well . . . .
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Jan 26: Library 315
For class: Read Stanley 20-60;  Maxwell 1-13. Do some preliminary exploration of your topic in a variety of information resources.
Memo 2: Based on your preliminary research, explore the options potential in your topic, the various directions your research might go. Model at least 3 possibilities.
In class: Feminist epistemology and feminist research. Research skills: researching beyond the library (RLIN and WorldCat). Flash feedback on the research process.

Stage 4: Formulation

The fourth stage, when students form a focus from information on the general topic, is the critical point in the search process. The focus is a personal perspective, an angle or hypothesis, that is developed from reading and reflecting on information gathered about a general topic. As a focus is formed, feelings shift from confusion and doubt to optimism and confidence.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Feb 2: Science Library 308
For class: Read Stanley 63-122; Maxwell 14-48. Continue exploring your topic. Choose the approach you will take. Acquire a computer disk.
Memo 3: Follow the instructions for Exercise 2.1 in Maxwell (p. 24).
In class: Share memos and research problems, challenges. Research skills: data and statistics. Flash feedback on the research process.

Feb 9  Social Sciences 224
For class: Read Maxwell 49-85; Stanley 123-55.
Memo 4: Using (loosely) Exercise 4.1 in Maxwell (pp. 61-2), formulate working research questions.
In class: Bring disk to class. Share research questions, plans, challenges. Review: critical reading techniques; annotated bibliographies. Research skill: manipulating statistics. Guest presenters: Diana Rempe-Cetas.

Stage 5: Collection

In the fifth stage, students collect information on their focused view of the topic rather than on all aspects of the topic in general. Although they realize the considerable amount of work ahead at this point they have more confidence, a sense of direction, and frequently experience an increased interest in their projects. The focus serves as a controlling idea for gathering information and directing the search.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Feb 16 Harvill 315 (rest of semester)
For class: Read Stanley 157-249; Oakley (RES); Stevens, McBride. Begin focused collecting of resources for your topic.
Memo 5: Reflection on research: what's missing? what can't you find?
In class: Discussion. Guest Presenter: Sally Stevens (respondant: Margaret Mortensen); Kari McBride (respondant: Karen Koevary).

Feb 23
For class: Read Stanley 251-73; Rivero, "Colored Ambiguities." (I have also put two other articles by Rivero online: "The 'Other's Others'" and "From Immigrants to Ethnics.") Read Kennedy. Complete annotated bibliography.
Memo 6: Where are you in Kuhlthau's research process (perhaps more than one place?).
In class: Turn in annotated bibliography. Assignment of  Research Overview. Share memos. Guest presenters: Eliana Rivero (resondant: Jessica Turk), Liz Kennedy (respondant: Sarah Dougherty).

Mar 1
For class: Begin work on Research Overview. Review Stanley 20-60. Read McDaniel; Wildner-Bassett; (RES).
For those of you interested in chaos theory and complexity,, you might also want to explore web sites on Wildner-Bassett's class web site for Planet Xeno, as well as sites on Chaos Theory and Fractals, Chaos Theory and Everyday Life, Online Chaos Course, Society for Chaos Theory, Adapting Science to Chaos, The Web and Chaos Theory, Chaos and Complexity Theory Without Math.
Memo 7: How do feminist "method, methodology, and epistemology" inflect your project? How is your project an example of "feminist praxis"?
In class: Return annotated bibliographies. Guest presenters: Karen Anderson (respondant: Jennifer Trinkle), Mary Wildner-Bassett (respondant: Erika Giesen); Judith McDaniel (respondant: Mary Speidel).

Mar 8
For class: Complete Research Overview. Read Maxwell 86-137; MacCorquodale (RES); Croissant (RES); Forsythe (RES).
Memo 8: Are you still looking for a particular body of research literature? One article? If you could have your wish, what piece of information would you discover tomorrow? Do you have enough? What is enough?
In class: Assignment of Proposal. Guest presenters: Patricia MacCorquodale (respondant: Gloria McMillan and Dawn Collins), Jennifer Croissant (respondant: Meredith Trauner).

Mar 15: Spring Break

Stage 6: Preparation and Presentation

The sixth stage of the search process prepares students to write. As closure approaches, they draw the search to an end, frequently noting diminishing relevance and increasing redundancy in the sources of information they encounter.
Carol Collier Kuhlthau
Mar 22
For classBegin work on Proposal.
Memo 9: How has your research process paralleled Kuhlthau's model? How have you found your experience different?
In class: Guest presenters: Zelda Harris (respondant: Yudith Arreguin); Susan Craddock (respondants: Jean Li and Heidi Silver-Pacuilla).

Mar 29
For class: Continue work on Proposal.
Memo 10: Focus/topic of your choice.
In class: Discussion. Guest presenters: Barbara Atwood (respondant: Shefali Desai), Heather Mikolaj (respondant: Dawn DeToro).

Apr 5
For class: Complete first version of Proposal.
In class: Exchange first versions of final project. Guest Presenters: Judy Burgoon (?) (respondant: Alison Smillie); Ruth Dickstein (respondant: Ed McKinnon).

Apr 12
For class: Comment on partner's first version.
In class: Return partner's first version. Formal 15-minute presentations of research projects.

Apr 19
For class: Continue work on Proposal.
In class: Formal 15-minute presentations.

Apr 26
For class: Continue work on Proposal.
Memo: Reflection on the research process.
In class: Formal presentations.

May 3
For class: Complete Proposal.
In class: Lunch? Turn in final projects. Evaluations.