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Emory University

Qualitative Data Collection Methods

Emory University via Coursera


This course presents a detailed overview of qualitative methods of data collection, including observation, interviews, and focus group discussions. We will start with an in-depth overview of each method, explore how to plan for data collection, including developing data collection guides, and discuss techniques for managing data collection. For observation, we’ll focus on approaches with low levels of interaction with people and the environment (e.g. non-participant observation). We’ll talk about note-taking strategies, the use of observation guides, and approaches to writing up fieldnotes. For interviews, we’ll discuss development of effective question guides and demonstrate interviewing techniques. For focus group discussions, we’ll highlight moderation strategies and how to integrate activities into question guides to promote interaction in the group setting. Finally, we’ll briefly discuss the transcription process for recorded interviews and focus group discussions. Learners of this course will not only be able to put what they learn into practice, but they'll also develop a portfolio of qualitative research materials for career advancement.


  • Observation
    • In this first week, we'll review structured and unstructured observation techniques, varying levels of participation, and writing up fieldnotes.
  • Interviews
    • This second week explores different interview designs, successful interviewing strategies, and questioning strategies often used in qualitative research.
  • Focus Group Discussions
    • In this third week, we'll discuss moderating focus group discussions, using activities, facilitating interactions, and planning for note-taking.
  • Transcription
    • In our final week of the course, we'll discuss the process and standards of transcription, interview three recent graduates on their projects, and explore developing an interview or focus group discussion guide.

Taught by

Karen Andes, PhD


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 45 ratings

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