Epistemology of qualitative research (2017/2018)

Course code
Luigina Mortari
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
Parte 1 4 Sem. IIA Luigina Mortari

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Parte 2 5 Sem. IIB Marco Ubbiali

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Learning outcomes

The two modules of this course share aims, program and modality of examination.

The course “Epistemology of the qualitative research” is aimed at presenting and making educationalists learn the necessary knowledge and competences to be aware of what is a research and to be able to project and conduct an educative research.

Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the students should be able to:
• Know the essence of the epistemology of the qualitative research in educational contexts;
• Know the specificity of the educative research in its paradigmatic, epistemological, philosophical and methodological aspects.

Applied Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the students should be able to:
• Project experiences of qualitative research contextualized in educative contexts;
• Put in a circular dialogue theoretical elements and data collected in the empirical reality.
Making judgments
At the end of the course the students should have learned:
• The capacity to analyze qualitative research experiences in educational contexts, to identify its constitutive elements, strong points and criticalities in an improving perspective;
• The awareness of the ethical valence of a research action, i.e. assuming the responsibility of their epistemic choices.
Communication skills
At the end of the course the students should be able to:
• Use a correct and specific language to describe an educative research;
• Communicate to the colleagues a specific choice for an educative research project and dialogue constructively about it;
• Communicate in social and public contexts the importance and quality of his/her own choices related to the approach of educative research;
• Document and present his/her inquiries, both in scientific and non-scientific contexts.

Learning skills
At the end of the course the students should be able to:
• Analyze the different modalities of educational research in order to come across the requirements of the different contexts;
• Collect the required sources to develop efficient educative research projects.


The course will be conducted in an unitary way through the two modules. Contents will be presented through the alternation of frontal lessons and laboratories: in this way it will be possible for students to be engaged in a “community of learning and practice”.
The course will deal with the following themes:
• The principal approach of the qualitative research;
• How to realize a qualitative research in educational contexts;
• The specificity of an educative research;
• The role of educative research for innovation in educational contexts;
• The ethical dimension of the research;
• The analysis of research projects in educational contexts.

Students will be requested to have the following pre-requisite:
• the knowledge of paradigms and methods of the research, in particular those that are framed in an ecological paradigm.

During the course the students will be involved in laboratorial activities, so that they will be allowed to practice planning qualitative research experiences. This will allow them to face, in a direct or simulated way, all the epistemological, planning and ethical aspects of the educative research.
Also case studies (taken from the professional context) will be presented to students. Moreover, students will be required to work in team in order to simulate the planning of a qualitative research.

Assessment methods and criteria

Evaluation will be realized through a written test, with open questions, concerning the texts studied and the practices examined. Students should prove that they:
• Have understood the relevant elements characterizing the qualitative research;
• Are able to present the specificity of educative research, with precision and clarity;
• Are able to critically analyze case studies and experiences.
Tests will be evaluated taking into consideration the correctness of contents, the capacity to communicate in an efficient way and the quality of written composition. Every question will be scored with points, whose total sum will compose the grade expressed in thirtieths.

Reference books
Activity Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Parte 1 Mortari L. Cultura della ricerca e pedagogia. Prospettive epistemologiche Carocci, Roma 2007
Parte 1 Valbusa F., Mortari L. L’orto delle emozioni. Teoria e ricerca sull'educazione alla vita affettiva (Edizione 1) Angeli: Milano 2017 9788891760760
Parte 1 Luigina Mortari Un metodo a-metodico Liguori 2006