Teaching Qualitative Research

Strategies for Engaging Emerging Scholars

Raji Swaminathan and Thalia M. Mulvihill

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1. What Does It Mean to Teach Qualitative Research?

- Why Is It Imperative That We Build a Pedagogical Culture Around Preparing the Next Generation of Qualitative Researchers?

- What Does It Mean to “Teach” Qualitative Research?

- Introduction to the Debates, Discourses, and Complexities Inherent in Teaching Research

- Different Fields and the Issues in Common for Teaching Qualitative Research

- Institutional Arrangements and Politics

- Chapter Summary

2. So You’ve Been Asked to Teach a Qualitative Research Course: Socialization and the Qualitative Researcher

- Course Design Principles, Processes, and Taxonomies

- Design Principles of Courses and Understanding the Learner

- Approaches to Teaching Qualitative Research

- Should Qualitative Research Be Taught within Single Disciplines or Should a Cross-Disciplinary Approach Be Advocated?

- Why Teach Critically? What Other Approaches Are Possible?

- General Course Design Principles

- Knowing the Learner: Countering and Working with the Resistant Learner

- Inviting Students into a Community of Learning

- Reflection or Reflective Practices




- Chapter Summary

Sample Syllabi Templates (Face-to-Face, Workshop and Studio Based, Online)

EXAMPLE 1. Some elements included in a syllabus for a face to- face, theory-driven approach to an introduction to qualitative inquiry

EXAMPLE 2. Some elements included in a syllabus using workshop and studio pedagogies for a face-to-face graduate seminar on ethnography and education

EXAMPLE 3. Some elements included in a syllabus for an online introduction to a qualitative inquiry course

3. It’s Never Too Early to Start “Thinking Qualitatively

- Using a Holistic Approach to Thinking Pedagogically about Teaching Qualitative Research

- What Is a Holistic Pedagogy? And Why Is It Needed?

- Key Characteristics of Holistic Pedagogy for Teaching Qualitative Research

- What Does It Mean to Think Qualitatively?

- Teaching Qualitative Thinking through Experiential Learning



- Teaching Qualitative Thinking through Dialogue

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 3.3. 20 Questions

- Facilitating Students to Ask Qualitative Questions

- Example of Qualitative Thinking Leading to Research from Sidewalk

- Example of Qualitative Thinking Leading to Research from Bad Boys

- Reflexive Thinking for Qualitative Research Topics

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 3.4. Brainstorming Qualitative Research Topics

- How to Ask a Qualitative Research Question

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 3.5. Research Topic and I (Eye)

- Chapter Summary

4. What Do You Mean That Being “Biased” Isn’t Wrong?: Reflexive Exercises to Promote Awareness and Discussion of “Positionality” in Qualitative Research

- Discussing and Tackling the Questions of Bias

- What Is Bias in Critical Qualitative Research?

- What Is Positionality and How Does It Influence Qualitative Research Projects?

- Hierarchical Positionings and the “Other” in Qualitative Research

- The Role of the Qualitative Researcher

- Ethical Considerations

- Outsider, Insider, Friend, Peer, Companion

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 4.1. Teaching Reflexivity

- Identity and the Qualitative Researcher

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 4.2. Understanding Your Positionality

- Chapter Summary

5. Crafting a Research Problem: The “So What?” Question

- The “So What?” Question

- Students’ Responses to Research Methods Courses

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.1. Opening a Conversation

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.2. Examining Assumptions

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.3. Examining Assumptions through Autobiographical Writing

- What Is a Research Problem in Qualitative Research?

- Distinguishing between Researchable Problems and Practical Problems

- What Makes a Problem Researchable?

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.4. Linking Qualitative Questions and Research Purpose

- Advocacy Research

- Identity Work and the Research Question

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.5. Imagining Researcher Roles and Identity

- Asking the “So What?” Question

- Identifying the “So What?” Question, or the Gap in Published Studies

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 5.6. Learning to Locate Researchable Problems

- Chapter Summary

6. Teaching Students to Write a Review of Literature: A Roadmap, a Conversation, and Metaphorical Imaginations

- What Are the Students’ Assumptions of Literature Reviews?

- How to Build an Argument in a Review of Literature

- An Advocate Approach

- A Jury Approach

- Types of Literature Reviews

- Descriptions and Discussion: Thematic, Scoping, and Critical

- Functions of a Literature Review

- Students’ Experiences of Crafting Literature Reviews

- Tools for Approaching a Literature Review

- Using Tables in Literature Reviews

- Methodological Transparency and Metaphorical Imaginations

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 6.1. Analogies and Reviews of Literature

- Prepare to Search

- Pedagogical Devices for Teaching Novice Researchers about Literature Reviews

- Critical Reading and Writing: Learning the Vocabulary of Research

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 6.2. Analyzing Literature Reviews

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 6.3. Library Excursion

- Rubric for Reviews of Literature

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 6.4. How or When to Use Citations and References

- Chapter Summary

7. Participant Observations, Research Questions, and Interview Questions: The Art of Observing and Questioning Self and Others in the Research Process

- The Art and Craft of Observation


- Helping Students Think through the Focus of Observations

- Teaching Ideas for Learning to Observe and to Write Field Notes

- The Art and Craft of Interviewing

- Starting the Conversation: What Are Good Interviews?

- Research Questions and Their Links to Interview Questions

- Preparing Interview Protocols: Things to Think About

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 7.2. Learning to Formulate Interview Questions

- Practicing Interviewing with Peers

- Teaching Listening for Developing Interview Skills

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 7.3. Brainstorming What It Means to Listen

- Modes of Interviewing: Distance versus Proximity

- Phone Interviews

- Focus Group Discussions and Group Interviews

- Narrative Interviews and Life History Interviews

- Recruitment of Participants

- The Emotional Work of Interviewing

- Postinterview Reflections: Voice Memos as a Way to Reflect on Interviews

- Reflecting on the Content of the Interview

- Reflecting on the Process

- Lessons Learned

- Activities for Teaching Interviewing Skills

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 7.4. The Art and Craft of Interviews

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 7.5. Interview Modes

- Chapter Summary

8. Teaching Emergent Methods of Data Collection

- Teaching Emergent Methods of Data Collection

- Why Emergent Methods?

- What Are Multimodal Data?

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 8.1. Brainstorming Interesting Phenomena for Qualitative Research Data Gathering

- Teaching Visual Literacy

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 8.2. Keeping a Visual Diary

- Multiple Forms of Data Gathering

- Visual Methods

- Photographs and Visual Data for Empowerment

- Photovoice Methods for Interviewing


Artifacts to Explore a Cultural Phenomenon

- Performance- and Arts-Based Data

- Issues, Ethics, and Best Practices for Image-Based Research

- Data Gathering Online

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 8.3. Data Gathering Online

- Chapter Summary

9. Teaching Creative Analytic Practices

- Teaching Creative Analytic Practices

- Data Analysis

- Teaching Organization: Dealing with Piles and Files

- Data Management Plans: Developing Systems to Manage the Data

- Data Expansion

- Data Reduction

- Goals of Analysis

- Practical Tips for Handling Data for Coding

- Teaching Students Where Codes and Themes Come From

- Teaching Analysis as a Collective Classroom Activity

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 9.1. Trying Out Data Analysis in a Large Group

- Questions as a Way to Teach Data Analysis

- Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?

- Reflective Questions That Interrogate Data

- Questions for Peer Review

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 9.2. Peer Feedback in Data Analysis

- Qualitative Analysis Strategies

- Teaching Analysis through Visual Displays

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 9.3. Creating Visual Displays and Visual Memos

- Teaching Interpretation

- Use of Metaphor to Teach Qualitative Analysis

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 9.4. Looking for Metaphors and Analogies

- Using Theory as a Building Block for Analysis

- Chapter Summary

10. Writing Qualitative Research Reports and Articles

- Writing Doctoral Dissertations, Master’s Theses, and Refereed Journal Articles

- Teaching about the Different Sections through Examples

- Low-Stakes Writing—or Practice Writing as a Pedagogical Strategy

- “Workshopping” as a Method to Teach Writing Qualitative Research

- Creating Peer Circles for Workshopping Writing

- Writing Findings in Qualitative Research

- Making Claims from Data

- Making Meaning from Data

- Telling the Lesser Stories through Summaries

- Using Pseudonyms or Composites for People and Places in Qualitative Research Findings

- Writing the Discussion Chapter

- Acknowledge Limitations and Delimitations

- Writing Articles during and after the Dissertation

- Writing for Journals and Conferences

- What Is Quality in Qualitative Research?

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 10.1. A Dialogue on Quality

CLASSROOM EXERCISE 10.2. Presenting the Study in a Conference Format

- Chapter Summary

- Conclusion: Final Thoughts



About the Authors