Qualitative Analysis of School Choice Fairs



Assignment Question: How/what do school choice programs communicate with families at school choice events in the New Haven region?

Write an evidence-based essay, (750 words-1000 words * note update from syllabus), that answers our research question.

Your essay should include:

1) Intro: develop an argument from the data & discuss its broader significance, linking to at least 1 reading from class

2) Short methodology paragraph: Briefly describe process & data collection for outsiders

3) Body paragraphs: Clarify each argument with topic sentence and persuasive evidence

4) Conclusion: Emphasize why findings matter



Weds. March 9th at 9 am – Post essay on GDoc Organizer, so anyone with the link can comment.

Friday March 11th Trinity students will make comments before Spring Break.

– Revise and repost your essay on our Trinity-Yale GDoc organizer by 9 am Weds. March 30th (this is not on the syllabus – please add!)


Googledoc sharing instructions (let’s practice this in class 3/1 to make sure we can do it):

  1. Please write this document in googledoc, and set the settings

Share > Advanced> Change > Anyone with the link > can Comment

  1. Then select Share > Get Shareable Link – copy this hyperlink
  1. Then find your name in the Trinity-Yale Sister seminar document (https://goo.gl/58yR3Z) and link your paper.

Insert > Link and include your paper hyperlink.

  1. Have your partner in class check that they can a) open the link to this document and b) make comments on it
  1. Please paste the following instructions at the top of your googledoc:

Dear Trinity commenters:

Authors were asked to write an evidence-based essay of 750-1000 words, drawing upon our observational field notes and at least one secondary source, in response to this question: How/what do school choice programs communicate with families at school choice events in the New Haven region?

Please comment on their essays with these questions in mind:

1) Does the author make clear & insightful arguments, relevant to the question?

2) Are the arguments supported with persuasive and vivid evidence (choice fair field notes, school choice promotional materials, evidence from school choice readings) and interpretation?

3) Does the author link to broader sociological concepts and the academic literature in a compelling way?

4) Does the essay make you think about this topic in a new way?

Please respond by using the “Suggesting” mode and/or select text and Insert > Comment.

Content related comments are the first priority, but authors will also appreciate suggestions on improving structure and style.

Thanks, from Mira Debs and the Cities Suburbs & School Choice Seminar at Yale

Ideas for developing your ideas from the data:

On coding themes for school choice:

In class, look for interesting themes that emerge when reading yours and other students’ field notes. Themes are conceptual categories about how choice schools and prospective families communicate, which appear in some field notes, but not necessarily all.

Themes may be:

Literal: (e.g. findable in a text search); more interesting if you see patterns about who raises the theme, or when/where/how it is raised, or its frequency in certain settings

Subtle: not a specific word, but a concept that requires interpretation, or a way of seeing

Absent: what is missing in the field notes that few people seem to notice?

To help you detect themes, feel free to scan the GDoc field notes and Insert > Comments

Dig below the surface. The most insightful arguments identify deeper themes, which are not obvious at first glance, and draw interesting connections with secondary source readings.


Ideas for Writing:

Create a constructive argument: It’s easy for us in a classroom to object to many aspects of school choice implementation and say that it’s bad and inequitable. Yet for the time being, school choice seems to be the dominant model in New Haven and around the country. The New Haven choice directors, Sherri Davis-Googe and Debbie Sumpter-Breeland are both interested in reading your essays to think about how to improve how they communicate school choice to families. How can your observations help instruct them?

Define your terms: When writing your essay, define your themes and convince us that they are present in the field notes, especially for readers who did not attend the same event.

Quick citations for field notes: When paraphrasing or quoting from field notes, which are not viewable to the public, simply insert parentheses and use the initials of the author of the field notes, like this:

Recruiters emphasized that the school “is very rigorous” (LW).

Full citations for published sources: Use ASA/APA/MLA citations.

Data confidentiality: We collected field notes at a public event. You may use real names of schools and programs, but to protect the privacy of individuals we observed, do not use real names of individual school program staff, recruiters, parents or students.

Here is the evaluation criteria: (out of 5 for each category)

Argument: Does the author make clear & insightful arguments, relevant to the research question? Does the essay make you think about this topic in a new way?

Evidence & Interpretation: Are the arguments supported with persuasive evidence and interpretation?

Structure and format: Is the essay clearly organized, with transitions? Does the author use ASA, APA or MLA formatting consistently?

Conventions, style and narrative pull: Is the essay interesting to read? Have you proofread carefully? Is your sentence structure varied, representing a unique style?

4.9-5.0 = A

4.6-4.8 = A-

4.3-4.5 = B+

4.0-4.2 = B

3.7-3.9 = B-

3.4-3.6 = C+

3.1-3.3 = C

2.8-3.0= C-

2.5-2.7 = D+

2.1-2.4 = D

2.0 = D-