Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Infusing Qualitative Traditions in Counseling Research Designs

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Infusing Qualitative Traditions in Counseling Research Designs

Article excerpt

In clinical work, counselors approach clients with a set of core assumptions about the practice of counseling--or theoretical orientation--and apply this accordingly throughout the duration of counseling in consideration of various client, setting, and treatment factors. Similar to how counselors rely on a theoretical orientation to guide professional practice, counseling researchers use research traditions to navigate qualitative research design decisions. Moreover, Kline (2008) asserted that selecting a research tradition congruent with one's research orientation and study purpose, and infusing it in all phases of qualitative inquiry, is a criterion for trustworthiness (i.e., coherence). Given its importance in framing the design and maximizing rigor of qualitative inquiry, the purpose of this article is to provide an overview of major qualitative research traditions and illustrate how they are infused into various qualitative research design components.

First, it is important to briefly discuss the concept of research paradigm. While the terms research paradigm and research tradition are used often interchangeably in the literature, we conceptualize them as interdependent and essential components of the counseling researcher's orientation for qualitative inquiry. Hays and Singh (2011) noted that research paradigms are belief systems based on core philosophies of science (i.e., ontology, epistemology, axiology, rhetoric, and methodology), and research traditions are methodological approaches and design strategies that are influenced by paradigms. Collectively, they serve as a foundational guide or blueprint that highlights the counseling researcher's assumptions, values, and activities related to the scientific pursuit for a particular research topic.

Common research paradigms include positivism, post-positivism, social constructivism, critical theory, feminism, and queer theory. Scholars operating under each paradigm attribute differential value to the nature of reality or truth of a phenomenon (ontology), knowledge construction (epistemology), infusion of researcher values in design and attention to the research relationship (axiology), role of researcher and participant voice in research process and data presentation (rhetoric), and considerations for scientific rigor (methodology). As attention to qualitative approaches increased across a variety of disciplines, the notion that scientific inquiry should attend to the context in which individuals live and experience phenomena became more apparent because findings from positivistic approaches were often not applicable to marginalized and underresearched groups (Patton, 2002; Ponterotto, 2005). Thus, qualitative research today tends to be predominated by four particular paradigms: social constructivism, critical theory, feminism, and queer theory. Because of space limitations, we recommend readers review Patton (2002), Ponterotto (2005), and Guba and Lincoln (2005) for excellent, detailed discussions of these paradigms.

Qualitative Research Traditions

In this section, we present six qualitative research traditions: grounded theory, phenomenology, consensual qualitative research (CQR), ethnography, narratology, and participatory action research (PAR). Although there are 15 or more research traditions used in counseling and education (see Creswell, 2007; Hays & Singh, 2011; Patton, 2002), counseling scholars have presented studies using these six qualitative traditions consistently or identified them as emerging in the profession. For each tradition, we describe its purpose and key characteristics, outline commonly associated fieldwork activities, describe analytic approaches within the tradition, and then discuss strengths and challenges of the approach. (Table 1 displays research design components of each research tradition.) We use a common research topic throughout the article--substance use among adolescents--to illustrate similarities and distinguishing features for the traditions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.