Teaching Qualitative Research in A Social Science Writing Classroom: Lessons Learned At Duke University
Since the 1980s qualitative research has become increasingly popular in the Social Sciences as it provides researchers with the methods required to uncover the meaning behind individual and collective action. We use the words of the research participants as tools in this type of research as they tell us a great deal about their experiences and attitudes. Thus, the objective of qualitative research is to understand social phenomena through methods that are based on collaboration and interaction with participants in research settings. The emergence of an interview society where the interview, a qualitative data collection method, is commonplace has also increased curiosity about qualitative research. First year undergraduate students at Duke University, however, have had minimal exposure and training in qualitative research principles and methodologies as a result of their immersion and intense training in the physical and natural sciences. For these students, becoming a qualitative researcher is a process that requires a shift in thinking about research and a researcher’s relationship with human participants. Adopting a teaching and learning approach that stimulates greater interest in the subject matter is crucial for inspiring students to become effective qualitative researchers.. An experiential learning approach shows great promise as a tool that will engender interest and expand student understanding of qualitative research. More specifically, an experiential learning approach is demonstrated when students become immersed and actively involved in the experience of learning qualitative research through student centered activities and are motivated to be reflexive about these experiences. This paper will explore tools that will engender interest and expand student understanding of qualitative research in the social sciences.