Conceptualizing and Teaching Qualitative Community Research
Pp. 3-26 (24)
Research theory and practice are interrelated. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods
approaches have distinct features. Neither is ‘better’ than the other. Either-or arguments are misleading
and distracting. Qualitative approaches emphasize perceptions and meanings. They are concerned with
constructing, describing, representing and interpreting social reality. Teaching about qualitative
research theory and practice entails developing and applying qualitative research pedagogies.
Competing assumptions exist regarding teaching and learning qualitative research. These have
implications for teachers and students. The assumption that learning derives from interaction implies
that teachers are facilitators of knowledge, rather than experts who transfer knowledge. Understanding
characteristics of qualitative research promotes effective teaching approaches. This chapter is an
overview of qualitative research’s value and distinctiveness. Major pedagogical goals, necessary
students’ skills and related teaching issues are highlighted. Reducing fear-based teaching, tension-filled
learning and anxiety-ridden assessments helps encourage a willingness to venture beyond preconceived
categories and step into the community in new ways. Interactive classroom and field learning strategies
engage students. Creating classroom-community relationships enhances teaching and learning.
Teaching requires conceptual and methodological rigor. Setting and achieving meaningful teaching
objectives are assisted by linking instruction and qualitative community research (QCR). Purposeful
and clear assessments improve teaching. Their utility is affected by explicit questioning of assessments
purposes, goals, objectives, existent resources, types, strategies and results. Teaching involves thinking
about data, as well as obtaining, organizing, summarizing, comprehending, analyzing and presenting
information. Instruction obligates the instructor to self-reflect about thematic goals for teaching and
learning QCR. The chapter concludes with a field assignment.
Theory and Practice, Overview of Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methods, Pedagogy,
Goals, Skills, Considerations, Issues.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Howard University, Washington, D.C.