Syllabus Qualitative Research (in Emergency Management) EM864


May 12 week, 2012
Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama
On-line through Blackboard at

Professor: Miriam Helen Hill
Department of Physical and Earth Sciences, 205 Martin Hall, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL 36265

E-mail: that will go to

Office Hours: Blackboard IM, Blackboard Virtual Office Hours, or AOL IM by appointment

Required Texts:
MS Office 2007 or 2010 is required.
Headset recommended for Blackboard IM chat sessions

**A number of journal articles or articles posted to websites, also, have been assigned. Links or information will be provided through our Blackboard course webpage and this homepage.

Course Description: Examination of qualitative methods that can be applied in the study of disasters; explores a range of activities necessary to perform disaster field research.

Learning Outcomes:
  1. To understand the distinct nature of qualitative research
  2. To explore the diversity of philosophies, methodologies, and theoretical frameworks used for qualitative research
  3. To expand awareness and appreciation of the use of qualitative research in emergency management and disaster studies
  4. To build KSAs to undertake qualitative research in emergency management and disaster studies ethically, efficiently, and successfully
Blackboard: All work must be submitted through the class shell in Blackboard. This can be found at

Class Homepage: The class homepage is at and is linked to Dr. Hill's webpage at This site is mirrored at The syllabus is, also, linked to the class homepage.

JSU Policies: General issues, policies, and information regarding distance learning at JSU can be found at:

Other topics relating to plagiarism, incompletes, etc., are discussed in JSU Student Handbook at

Special Needs: If you are a student with a disability and think you may need special assistance or accommodation in this class, please contact me immediately. More information about the office of Disability Support Services at JSU can be found at

Library Contact: Distance Learning Librarian, Yingqi Tang ( or 256-782-5757) is available to assist with any of your distance learning library needs.


Discussion Boards and Activities 25%
Midterm 25%
Term Paper 25%
Final Exam 25%

A: 90-100+
B: 80-89.9
C: 70-79.9
F: less than 70

Attendance Policy:

You are expected to actively and consistently participate in this online class through the discussion forums and activities and the course readings and assignments. You are expected to discuss the readings and to participate each week in the discussion boards and to complete the assigned activities. Online courses require consistent and regular participation; you should plan to log on and to post to the course web page on a routine basis (five out of seven days is a good standard to achieve). A new discussion forum is created each Sunday, and the previous week’s forum, also, closes that day at 11:55 p.m.

Discussion Boards and Activities:

For each week with a chapter assignment, two discussion forums will be posted in Blackboard. One board will focus on the topic of the reading assignments. Include full documentation and source information.

A second forum will concern a relevant activity to be completed and discussed. These two discussion boards may be posted and available in advance of their assigned date to allow you additional flexibility. Boards will close at 11:55 p.m. on Sundays.

Format Requirements for Written Assignments:

All written assignments are expected to conform to the guidelines and reference formats specified in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ( Document all sources (ideas, quotes, summaries, etc.), and include only these cited works in the Bibliography. Do not overlook page numbers and dates. Full functionality of the reference Ribbon in MS Word 2007 or 2010 is required. If you are unfamiliar with using this functionality, see my PowerPoint presentation at Citations will be checked. Review for typographical and data entry errors! The font must be Times New Roman 12 point and double spaced with one inch margins. Use headings and subheadings. End notes are acceptable for any comment notes. Correct grammar and spelling are expected, and avoid useless phrases such as “there is” and “there are.” Such errors will result in grade reductions. Assignments containing multiple errors will be returned, ungraded, for revision and resubmission. A good reference for researching topics and citing sources can be found at the JSU library webpage at

Midterm and Final Exam:

The midterm and final exams are take-home, open book essay exams that will give you the opportunity to summarize and synthesize what you have learned in this class. Documentation and format requirements are described above. Grading emphasis will be on content and coverage rather than length.

Term Paper:

The purpose of the term paper is to explore the extant literature on one type of qualitative research to provide a more extensive understanding of the philosophy, methodology, and application to emergency management and disaster research. The topic need not be one of the major methodologies that are discussed in the text. Please, seek approval for your topic. Although it is hoped that this paper may be applicable to your dissertation research, duplication of topics in the class will not be acceptable, and choices will be considered on a first come, first serve basis. Final papers will be shared by posting to a discussion board forum and discussed.

Your paper should be approximately 20 pages in length, not including title page and bibliography, however, content and coverage are more important than page counts. Extra credit consideration is available for exceptional work. Papers may be rejected for resubmission for unacceptable format or quality. Papers will be edited using the Review Ribbon of Word. Be sure to consult the grading rubric before submission. Before posting your paper to the discussion board forum, you may take the edits into consideration and revise your work. The paper should be submitted as .docx file. Papers will be evaluated by Safe Assign and added to the database. The writing style should be of a quality suitable for professional publication or presentation.

Class Membership:

Class members are expected to answer and ask questions, be involved in activities, and to facilitate an educational academic atmosphere. Proper attitude and behavior are expected. At all times presence should facilitate a smooth flow of intellectual ideas, knowledge, and intelligent discussion. Failure to contribute or promote this important goal demonstrates poor professional development.

Note: All materials presented in this class are done so with educational goals in mind and are not intended to cause distress of any nature. Please be aware that controversial materials, theories, exhibits, etc. will be presented in this class. If you are unwilling or unable to view these presentations in the educational light in which they are presented, then you need to reconsider your enrollment in this class.

Answers and grading will usually be succinct and to the point. No value judgment of you, your personality, character, or your intelligence is intended. Feedback is provided so that you can learn from your mistakes and improve the work that you are doing.

Questions or problems:

Please contact the professor. Asking questions is an extremely important part of the learning process. Be specific. For e-mail exchanges, incomplete information and vague questions only expand the time it will take for you to get an adequate response. Expect that I will ask you questions to ascertain what you understand so I can begin the answer from that point.

Making Contact: When e-mailing, the professor, provide detailed information. Identify yourself, the course, and the specific assignment. This will facilitate a more rapid and accurate response. We will use Blackboard IM to facilitate communication. If GEM (JSU e-mail system) is not your primary e-mail, place a forward on that account, and test it to be sure that it is functional. Blackboard uses GEM for e-mail contacts.


This syllabus is in no way binding. All information is subject to change. Any changes made by the professor will be announced to the class in class, through e-mails, or posting to the Announcements area of Blackboard.