Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Sean Courtney

Date of this Version


Document Type



Babchuk, W. (1997), The Rediscovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research in Adult Education. PhD diss. University of Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Community and Human Resources, Under the Supervision of Professor Sean Courtney. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 1997

Copyright © 1998 by Wayne Andrew Babchuk


Grounded theory is becoming an increasingly popular research methodology for use in adult education and other forms of educational inquiry, yet there is currently considerable disagreement among its co-founders concerning the implementation of this approach. Reflective of this ambiguity and to further confuse matters for the potential grounded theorist, educators who have used this methodology in the field often operationalize grounded theory’s procedures and practices according to their own interpretations and contextualiy-specific research needs. Moreover, these analysts often do not thoroughly document the specifics of their research, often failing to provide information concerning the methodological decisions they surely must have made, rendering the use of their research as a model difficult or impossible for other educators interested in adopting this method.

This study provides a detailed examination of grounded theory postulates and practices in terms of the history and development of this methodology over time and across disciplines, framed within the context of educational research. Informed by this broad literature base, the main thrust of this inquiry involves the totality of issues associated with the implementation and practice of grounded theory analysis in adult education. Accordingly, a step-by-step discussion of grounded theory issues, procedures, and techniques is provided drawing from the work of grounded theory methodologists, educational researchers, and the author’s own experiences with this methodology. Given its focus on generation of theory from data collected in the field, grounded theory seems ideally suited for adult education, a discipline characterized by a lack of a well-developed theoretical foundation and a strong commitment to the world of practice. Grounded theory not only offers adult educators a time-honored qualitative research strategy as an alternative approach to more traditional methods of investigation, but provides a viable means for scholars and practitioners to generate theory grounded in the realities of their daily work.