Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Catching the "Tail/tale" of Teaching Qualitative Inquiry to Novice Researchers

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Catching the "Tail/tale" of Teaching Qualitative Inquiry to Novice Researchers

Article excerpt

In contemporary higher education, shaped by academic capitalism, teaching qualitative inquiry and analysis is never a neutral practice. As Cannella and Lincoln (2004) and Lincoln and Cannella (2004) remark in their two-part critique of methodological conservatism in contemporary practice, "dangerous discourses" abound. Students learning to be qualitative researchers are disciplined into being "good researchers" that cultivate feelings of desire and satisfaction for absorbing particular norms and "getting it right." From a critical perspective, teaching in the contemporary academy laden with similar "dangerous discourses," the act of learning/teaching about data analysis is not immune from the impact of epistemological orientations and the pervasive norms surrounding Colleges of Education. Qualitative inquiry has great potential to be a liberatory space from which to critique those contexts and practices, and yet all efforts to undo and redo the worldview of novice researchers steeped in the subculture of "educator preparation" means those preparing the ground for liberatory thinking and doing must work within/against the surrounding discourses. In such a historical moment, it is important for students' to be aware and equipped to engage not only with the methodological tools to pursue their research but to understand that how one conceptualizes, approaches, and believes one should engage in the research process is also part of the politics of knowledge construction.

We, the authors, have collaborated over the past several years, presenting our work -in-progress at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and served as "critical friends" for each other as we explored the pedagogical dilemmas and complexities we encountered teaching Qualitative Research Methods courses for past 15 years. We reside at three different state universities within educator-preparation programs attracting students with similar profiles (students focused on preparing for careers as higher education faculty/administrators, K-12 teachers/administrators, or community educators). Using a Critical Friends framework (Cox, 2003; Humble, A. M., & Sharp, E. 2012; Moore & Carter-Hicks, 2014) we distilled and further analyzed a few representative examples from our pedagogies that have been the most effective over this period of time and contain "tales to tell" about introducing qualitative inquiry to novice researchers who often start off believing that if they can only "catch the tail" of this thing called qualitative research they will be able to "do it right." Yet, as the metaphor implies, catching a fierce beast by the tail, thinking you can control it's actions, can be a fatal mistake leading students and faculty who believe they can control the data analysis process by holding on tightly to one part of the beast, to succumb to a misguided positivist notion about knowledge creation. Students' desire to "do it right" is often the first demonstration of the epistemological stance they inhabit. It presents a pedagogical opportunity to heighten students' awareness and increase transparency about epistemological and methodological assumptions, a condition that is often lacking in graduate research methods courses in education (Koro-Ljunberg et al., 2009). In this spirit, we position ourselves as social justice educators trained in social foundations and qualitative methodologies using varied interpretivist, critical, feminist, and poststructuralist approaches as we introduce novice researchers to qualitative inquiry. We also practice "getting lost" (Lather, 2007). Our collaboration on this article is evidence of this practice. And we are spurred on by some more recent scholarship calling for more examination of qualitative inquiry teaching practices (Eisenhart & Jurrow, 2011; Hurworth, 2008; Preissle, & deMarrais, 2011).

For the purpose of this "telling" we will focus on strategies used to teach Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA). …

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