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Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

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Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Edited by Mark Garner University of Aberdeen, UK Claire Wagner University of Pretoria, South Africa Barbara Kawulich University of West Georgia, USA

© Mark Garner, Claire Wagner and Barbara Kawulich 2009 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Mark Garner, Claire Wagner and Barbara Kawulich have asserted their rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company Wey Court East Suite 420 Union Road 101 Cherry Street Farnham Burlington Surrey, GU9 7PT VT 05401-4405 England USA British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Teaching research methods in the social sciences. 1. Social sciences--Research--Methodology--Study and teaching. I. Garner, Mark. II. Wagner, Claire. III. Kawulich, Barbara. 300.7'2-dc22 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Teaching research methods in the social sciences / edited by Mark Garner, Claire Wagner, and Barbara Kawulich. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7546-7352-1 (hardback) -- ISBN 978-0-7546-7354-5 (pbk.) 1. Social sciences--Methodology--Study and teaching. 2. Social sciences--Research--Study and teaching. 3. Social sciences--Research--Methodology. I. Garner, Mark. II. Wagner, Claire. III. Kawulich, Barbara.

H62.T286 2009 001.4'2--dc22

ISBN 978 0 7546 7352 1 (hbk) ISBN 978 0 7546 7354 5 (pbk) ISBN 978 0 7546 9147 1 (ebk.I)


Contents List of Figures List of Tables Notes on Contributors Introduction Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods Mark Garner, Claire Wagner and Barbara Kawulich

ix xi xiii 1

Part I  Historical Perspectives 1

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective  Judith Preissle and Kathryn Roulston

2 Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods by Psychologists in the United States Blaine F. Peden and David W. Carroll



Part II Approaches to the Curriculum 3

The Role of Theory in Research Barbara Kawulich

4 Critical Realism and Teaching Empirical Methods David J.F. Maree 5

Quantitative or Qualitative: Ontological and Epistemological Choices in Research Methods Curricula Claire Wagner and Chinedu Okeke

6 Ontology, Epistemology and Methodology for Teaching Research Methods Jan Pascal and Grace Brown

37 49





Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Research as Social Relations: Implications for Teaching Research Methods Mark Garner and Peter Sercombe


8 Incorporating the Ethical Dimension in the Teaching of Research Methods Donna McAuliffe


Part III Approaches to Developing Research Competence 9

Developing Reflective Researchers Mark A. Earley

10 Apprenticeship: Induction to Research through Praxis of Method Wolff-Michael Roth 11

The (In)effectiveness of Various Approaches to Teaching Research Methods Terrell L. Strayhorn


Teaching the Use of Technology in Research Methods João Batista Carvalho Nunes


Best Practice in Research Methods Assessment: Opportunities to Enhance Student Learning Erica L. James, Bernadette M. Ward, Virginia A. Dickson-Swift, Sandra A. Kippen and Pamela C. Snow

103 111

119 131


Part IV Approaches to Teaching Particular Methods 14

Researcher Know Thyself! Emerging Pedagogies for Participatory Research Peter Taylor


Teaching Research Methods to Trainee Practitioners Tuyen D. Nguyen and Brian T. Lam

16 How to do Case Study Research Donna M. Zucker

153 163 171



17 Symmetries and Asymmetries between Curriculum and Pedagogy in Teaching Critical Ethnography 183 Shijuan Liu and Phil Francis Carspecken Part V Approaches to Teaching Non-traditional Students 18 19

Learning Research Together: Reciprocal Benefits for Individuals With and Without Disabilities Annabelle L. Grundy and Michelle K. McGinn


Bridging Gaps: The Quest for Culturally Responsive Pedagogies in Collaborative Research Methods José Antonio Flores Farfán, Mark Garner and Barbara Kawulich


Afterword Mark Garner, Claire Wagner and Barbara Kawulich


Bibliography Index

221 241

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List of Figures 2.1 Research courses in psychology curricula from 1961–2005 in the United States 2.2 Frequency of research methods courses in different types of institutions from 1975–2005 3.1 The relationship of concepts to constructs to propositions to theories to paradigms 3.2 The role of theory in research 7.1 Four models of social relations 16.1 Early model of summarized interview transcript 16.2 Basic model based on Burbank’s work 16.3 Model describing the trajectory of chronic coronary heart disease

26 26 39 40 84 176 177 181

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List of Tables 6.1 Questions for exploring students’ assumptions about research 6.2 Research planning exercise 6.3 Class exercise demonstrating policy contexts 6.4 Class exercise demonstrating social/political/ethical context of research 6.5 Programme planning exercise 11.1 Teaching strategies used 11.2 Strategies preferred 11.3 Preferences for teaching strategies, by gender 11.4 Mean self-reported knowledge and ability levels 11.5 Mean knowledge level, by teaching strategy 11.6 Mean ability level, by teaching strategy 13.1 Examples of items for QA or evaluation of teaching regarding the appropriateness of assessment items (designed for a Likert-type response scale) 13.2 Sample of the marking guide used in Public Health Research B for the proposal writing task 16.1 Strategies used to generate meaning

73 74 76 77 78 122 123 124 124 125 126 146 147 179

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Notes on Contributors Grace Brown is a Lecturer in the School of Social Work and Social Policy at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. She became interested in social work practice research as an active member of a practice-based research interest group, auspiced by the Australian Association of Social Workers. She has taught research methods in social work for the past seven years and is currently engaged in PhD research in the area of educating social workers for rural practice. She has presented several papers on her PhD topic and has also presented at international conferences about teaching research methods to social workers. David W. Carroll is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He received a BA in psychology and philosophy from the University of California at Davis and an MA and PhD in experimental and developmental psychology from Michigan State University. He teaches courses in the psychology of language, cognitive psychology and the history of psychology, and conducts research on the teaching of psychology and the linguistic analysis of written text. Phil Francis Carspecken is Professor of Inquiry and Philosophy in the School of Education at Indiana University (Bloomington). His interests are in philosophy, social theory and methodological theory. He is the author of a number of books, including: Critical Ethnography in Educational Research; Four Scenes for Posing the Question of Meaning; and (with Xuehui Xie) Philosophy, Learning and the Mathematics Curriculum. Virginia A. Dickson-Swift is a Lecturer in the Department of Public Health at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. She specializes in qualitative methods and has been teaching research methods units to both undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking a variety of health courses for the past five years. She is interested in RM curriculum design that incorporates mixed methodologies and has presented a range of papers at both national and international conferences. Mark A. Earley is an Associate Professor of Educational Research and Statistics at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, USA. He has taught doctoral level educational research methods courses covering quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches, and a master’s level introductory course. He has worked with over 50 students on their theses and dissertations. His scholarship in recent years explores reflective teaching and the teaching and


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

learning of research methods, including guest editorship of a special issue of the Journal of Research Practice in which 11 graduate students reflected on their research experiences. José Antonio Flores Farfán is a Linguistics Professor at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) in Mexico City. His areas of interest include sociolinguistics, especially language revitalization and planning. He has taught at the American Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona and at the University of Amsterdam. As part of his courses in Mexico, he has worked on teaching research methods to indigenous students, particularly exploring autobiographies as a means for a better understanding the processes associated with language shift and reversal. His numerous publications include multimedia materials for children in indigenous languages. Mark Garner teaches a year-long research methods course at the University of Aberdeen, where he is convener of postgraduate programmes in linguistics. He has held similar positions elsewhere in Britain, Australia and Indonesia. In the mid1990s, he received an Australian Government grant to produce a video on research methods; this aroused his interest in developing effective pedagogical approaches in the subject. Later he received a grant from an English university to investigate project work as a preliminary to methodological studies. He has published a number of books and articles on theory and method in applied linguistics. Annabelle L. Grundy is a teacher of students who are deaf and hard of hearing at the Ernest C. Drury Senior School for the Deaf, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in the visual arts at the secondary level and teaches students using American sign language. Her interest in accessible research methods originates from her research experiences as someone who is hard of hearing. She has presented several papers and published articles about accessible research methods and accessible research methods education. She wrote her MEd thesis about the learning experiences of graduate students who work as research assistants on faculty-led research projects. Erica L. James is a Senior Research Academic at the Centre for Health Research and Psycho-oncology, Cancer Council NSW and University of Newcastle, Australia. She leads the physical activity and nutrition stream at the centre and teaches research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students in disciplines including health promotion, nursing, social work, pharmacy, education and business. In 2006, Erica was awarded an ‘Excellence in Teaching Award’ in recognition of her efforts in teaching postgraduate research methods. She has published a number of papers and book chapters on teaching research methods and epidemiology to students from health-related disciplines.

Notes on Contributors


Barbara B. Kawulich is an Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership Department at University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia. She teaches qualitative and action research, ethics and leadership to graduate students and multicultural diversity to undergraduates. Her research focus centres on qualitative methods and issues of interest to Muscogee (Creek) women. She has numerous chapters and articles published on these topics. Sandra A. Kippen is now retired but currently holds the honorary position of Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Division of Health Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She specializes in historiography and sociology of health and illness, and has taught research methods at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels for the past 15 years. Her recent publications include reports on research projects, discussion on Indigenous education, teaching at higher education levels and ethics in research. Brian T. Lam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at the California State University, Long Beach, USA. He received his doctorate in social work from Columbia University in 2003. His current research interests focus on ethnic identity, community influences on psychological distress and behavioural proneness among minority adolescents. His teaching area is in direct social work practice and social work research. His articles appear in the International Journal of Behavioral Development; International Journal of Intercultural Relations; and The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Shijuan Liu is currently a Research Fellow in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. She holds a PhD in instructional systems technology. Her interest in teaching RM originated from the excellent RM courses that she took when working on her doctorate at Indiana University. She has conducted a number of research projects and presented at many local, national and international conferences. Her work has appeared as book chapters and in refereed journals. David J.F. Maree is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and a registered Research Psychologist. He coordinates the training for the MA degree that leads to professional registration as a research psychologist in South Africa. He teaches research methods to postgraduate students in psychology. His academic interests, culminating in conference proceedings and journal publications, include cognitive psychology, test development (especially Rasch modelling), research methods and statistical analysis. Donna McAuliffe is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Human Services, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. She specializes in professional ethics education in social work and human services which includes research ethics. She supervises research higher degree students and is engaged in practice-based research in the


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

field using a range of research methodologies. She is also the National Ethics Group Convener for the Australian Association of Social Workers and a Research Ethics Adviser at Griffith University. Michelle K. McGinn is an Associate Professor of Education at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, where she specializes in research methodology, especially qualitative research approaches. She is also a member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Ethics Special Working Committee (Canada), where she is engaged in research ethics policy development. She is interested in issues related to researcher development, research education, mentorship, collaboration and academic identity. She has numerous conference presentations and publications related to these topics, including recent work about research teams and the pleasures and pains associated with research. Tuyen D. Nguyen is an Assistant Professor in the Human Services Department at California State University, Fullerton. He has experience teaching undergraduate and graduate courses and seminars. Academic subjects taught range from issues in research to human nature, development and assessment. He has served on 23 thesis and dissertation committees, with research topics ranging from PTSD among war veterans to children in foster care. He is the editor of Domestic Violence in Asian American Communities and Many Paths, One Purpose: Career Paths for Social Work and Human Services Majors. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Emotional Abuse; The Qualitative Report; and Violence Against Women. João Batista Carvalho Nunes is Professor in the Faculty of Education and cocoordinator of the Master in Education at Ceará State University, Brazil. He specializes in educational technology and research and evaluation methods. He has been teaching research methods and computer-aided data analysis to postgraduate students in education. His current mixed methods research about free software and education has grants from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Ceará State Foundation of Support for Scientific and Technological Development (FUNCAP). He has scientific publications in books and conference proceedings about educational research and evaluation. Chinedu Onochie Okeke is a Lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations and Management, University of Swaziland. He specializes in sociology of education and qualitative research methods and has been teaching educational foundation courses to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Department of Educational Foundations. His interest in qualitative research culminated in a PhD thesis, which triangulated various qualitative methods in a demonstration study aimed at making popular the qualitative research methods within the Nigerian research tradition. He has published some international papers on the conduct of research within the Nigerian research tradition, qualitative research and sociology of education.

Notes on Contributors


Jan Pascal is a Lecturer and Researcher in both the School of Social Work and Social Policy and the School of Public Health at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. She specializes in teaching social work and health care practice skills across a range of disciplines. She also teaches research methods at an undergraduate level, as well supervizing doctoral students. Her areas of expertise include methodological design, particularly phenomenology and exploring the lived experience of significant health issues. Her PhD presented a phenomenological interpretation of cancer survival, and she has presented and published several papers about cancer care. Blaine F. Peden is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He completed a baccalaureate degree at Fresno State College and a doctoral degree at Indiana University. He has taught research methods since 1975. He performs collaborative research with undergraduates presented at professional conferences. Early interests and publications included topics in animal learning and behaviour. More recent interests and publications include teaching and learning about research methods, critical thinking, group matching, virtual research ethics, online courses, scientific writing, teaching with technology and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Judith Preissle is the 2001 Distinguished Aderhold Professor in the College of Education at the University of Georgia (UGA). She studies the anthropology of education, gender, immigration, ethics and qualitative research design. She founded the qualitative research programme at UGA, now offering a graduate certificate. She coauthored Ethnography and Qualitative Design in Educational Research (1984; 1993) and coedited The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education (1992) and her other work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. The second edition of her most recent book, Educating Immigrant Students (1998), coauthored with Xue Lan Rong, is in preparation for 2008. Wolff-Michael Roth is Lansdowne (endowed) Professor of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Victoria, Canada. His research programme is concerned with studying cognition, identity and emotion across the lifespan, especially in the context of mathematics and science. He edits Mind, Culture, and Activity and coedits Cultural Studies of Science Education and FQS: Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum Qualitative Social Research. Trained as a statistician, he now teaches qualitative research methods. His most recent methods books include the single-authored Doing Teacher Research: A Handbook for Perplexed Practitioners and, edited with K. Ercikan, Generalizing from Educational Research: Beyond the Qualitative-Quantitative Opposition. Kathryn Roulston is an Associate Professor in the Qualitative Research Programme in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia, Athens, USA. She teaches coursework in


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

qualitative research methods to graduate students in education as well as other disciplines. Her research interests include qualitative interviewing, the study of ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approaches to the analysis of talkin-interaction and topics related to music education. She has published articles on qualitative research methodology in Qualitative Inquiry, Qualitative Research and journals in education and has presented her research at national and international conferences on qualitative research. Peter Sercombe holds a PhD in Sociolinguistics and currently teaches in Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University, UK. His academic interests include issues in qualitative research; Austronesian languages; cultural maintenance and adaptation; and the sociolinguistics of language use and language change. His publications include work on the Penan (hunter-gatherers of Borneo), he recently coedited the book Beyond the Green Myth: Hunter-Gatherers of Borneo in the 21st Century and acted as a consultant for the BBC’s Tribe programme on the Eastern Penan. He is also an editor for The Linguistics Journal. Pamela C. Snow is a Psychologist and Speech Pathologist with over 20 years experience in clinical practice, research and academia. She has taught research methods in a wide variety of undergraduate health disciplines and currently coordinates the Psychological Medicine component of Year 4 of the Monash University MBBS at a regional clinical school in Victoria, Australia. Her research is concerned with various aspects of risk in childhood and adolescence, and has been published in a range of international journals. Terrell L. Strayhorn is Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Special Assistant to the Provost at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences. He specializes in advanced quantitative data analysis and modelling techniques, and teaches research methods courses to graduate students in fields across the social sciences. His research interests centre on how college affects students and social/educational disparities that affect the success of historically underrepresented groups in higher education. He is the author of three books and over 60 chapters, articles, reviews and scholarly conference papers. Peter Taylor is a Research Fellow and Leader of the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at the Institute of Development Studies, UK. With a PhD in agricultural education, he convenes the MA in Participation, Power and Social Change and is involved in several international initiatives on knowledge, learning and capacity for social change. He teaches courses on participatory research methods and has been engaged in a wide range of research and advisory work in Africa, South East and Central Asia. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Community Development Journal and Participatory Learning and Action.

Notes on Contributors


Claire Wagner is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She specializes in research psychology and teaches research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students in psychology as well as across the social sciences. Her interest in teaching RM culminated in a PhD that examined RM curricula and how they are constructed at universities in South Africa. She has presented a number of papers at international conferences about teaching RM and has published articles on RM teaching in psychology, RM teaching within higher education policy and the future of teaching RM. Bernadette M. Ward is a Lecturer in the School of Public Health at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. She has extensive experience in teaching research to both undergraduate and postgraduate students from a range of health-related disciplines. She has published in refereed journals on teaching research methods and in 2004, She was awarded an ‘Excellence in Teaching Award’ for online teaching. Donna M. Zucker is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA. She teaches community health and leadership to undergraduate nursing students. She also teaches the history of nursing and philosophy of science, and offers electives in chronic illness and case method to doctoral nursing students. She conducts research with vulnerable groups who are homeless, incarcerated and at high risk for communicable diseases. Her publications are concerned with research aspects of chronic illness symptoms, and the development of wellness strategies based on case study and other qualitative methods.

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Introduction Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods Mark Garner, Claire Wagner and Barbara Kawulich

This book arose from a recognition on the part of the editors of our great ignorance about the teaching of research methods in the social sciences. Despite, between us, having taught the subject in some form or other over more than two decades at eight universities in six countries, we were aware of many questions about what and how we should teach it – and a disconcerting lack of anywhere to turn for answers. Aside from one or two immediate colleagues, we were working in isolation from what must be a very large number of fellow academics around the world who are engaged in the same educational endeavour. In the absence of a professional association or a body of literature devoted to research methods pedagogy, we decided to take the initiative by bringing together a collection of writings on the topic aimed at academics who teach research methods at the tertiary level, researchers, scholars and academic peers. The book is not intended for the textbook, practitioner or policymaker market. We created a web page and called for contributions. The enthusiastic response – we received well over 60 proposals as well as innumerable encouraging comments – showed that there are many others in the field who share our concerns. Clearly the time is right for a thorough examination of research methods education. As far as methodology was concerned, earlier generations of research students (among whom we number ourselves and no doubt many of our fellow contributors) were generally flying in the dark. They were either told to follow a specified line of enquiry (or left to pick up methodological skills as and when they could) in the process of doing their research. Those who were fortunate had supervisors who initiated them into the research process through a sort of apprenticeship. Otherwise, they had to rely on what they could glean from books on methodology, research reports and ad hoc methodological seminars. The notion that research methods could or should be a subject in the curriculum (let alone a compulsory subject) was largely unknown. The contemporary situation, in many parts of the world, is very different. Under pressure to increase enrolments and improve completion rates among research students, universities have begun stressing the importance of a sound training in how to conduct research. Research methodology, whether discipline-specific or generic, is now a component of most postgraduate, as well as a number of

Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

undergraduate, programmes. However, the status and function of these programmes vary widely. The research methods component may be anything from a short series of seminars or workshops to courses that run for a semester, a year or even over several years. Attendance may be optional or compulsory. Assessment differs too: simply attending may be enough to ensure a pass or the courses may include a full range of assignments that are graded on a par with all other programme components. Such variation may be inevitable and even desirable, but it should not be left to occur by default. It is one of many issues that research methods teachers need to consider evaluate and debate. We believe it is time to develop what might be termed a ‘pedagogical culture’ relating to research methods. By this we refer to the exchange of ideas within a climate of systematic debate, investigation and evaluation surrounding all aspects of teaching and learning in the subject. We would have liked it to be possible for this initial publication in research methods pedagogy simply to consolidate the field by drawing on a rich literature of pedagogical theory and research. But, apart from a few isolated publications, there is as yet no body of work or even a generally accepted approach, around which a pedagogical culture can develop. Our ambition for this book has therefore had to be modest. It is intended to be a small but essential preliminary step towards developing such a pedagogical culture, by enabling teachers in different countries and within a variety of disciplines to establish the extent to which there are common concerns and challenges, and to demonstrate some ways in which they are being met. Since this book appears to be the first in English (and perhaps any language) to address research methods teaching as an important pedagogical interest, we feel it is premature to argue for or against a particular approach to methods teaching. Our aim is to start, as it were, a lot farther back: to raise awareness of the issues and to provide both a stimulus and some source materials for more substantial and systematic future work in the field. The chapters were selected on the basis that they deal with important topics, not because the writers espoused a given ideology or followed a given line of argument. Our aim throughout has been to address pedagogical issues from the perspective of concepts and principles, rather than to adopt an approach of ‘this is what I do in my classroom and this is how you can do it’. A fundamental assumption for the development of a pedagogical culture is that there are skills, knowledge and processes required for teaching a subject that are related to, but distinguishable from, expertise in the subject itself. This has long been recognized in a number of traditional disciplines, where a pedagogical culture, manifested in formal organizations and informal networks, conferences and publications, dedicated to teaching, has developed in parallel with the discipline itself. In fields as diverse as history and mathematics, there is a strong academic tradition of disciplinerelated pedagogy. Applied linguistics originated when language teachers began to scrutinize their own practice in the light of advances in theoretical linguistics (Corder, 1973) and has since become a vigorous academic discipline in its own right (McDonough, 2002).

Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods

By contrast, research methods education has scarcely begun to take shape as a field of academic endeavour. In certain respects the current status of research methods teaching is akin to the situation obtaining a decade or two ago in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language (ES/FL) or of what has been variously styled as academic skills, academic literacy or study skills. When these activities first appeared on the academic scene, they were regarded as simply support or service activities. They occupied a marginal place within university education and were typically taught by junior or sessional staff. There was little interest in, or incentive for, a pedagogical culture to develop around them. Under pressure from a rapidly expanding intake of students from non-traditional and mixed ability backgrounds, however, university managers began to recognize that these subjects have an essential role to play in maintaining standards and retention rates. They were gradually incorporated into the mainstream of academic programmes (Garner et al., 1995), and the teaching of both academic skills and ES/FL is now widely accepted as a significant academic pursuit. As a consequence, a lively pedagogical culture has developed around them, manifested in dedicated professional associations. Theoretical and methodological debates are conducted through national and international conferences, and specialist journals provide an outlet and a stimulus for a growing body of research (Lillis, 2001). Each field now offers a career structure for academics who wish to specialize within it. A similar upgrading process is, or soon will be, under way with research methods, as it comes to occupy a more central place within academic programmes. The earlier piecemeal, trial and error, acquisition of research skills by a small handful of research students is being superseded by structured coursework. Government and university bodies are calling for the extensive, systematic teaching of research methods to all postgraduate students, as well as to trainee practitioners in a number of fields (QAA, 2004). The academic status of the subject is still not secure in many institutions, as is evidenced by differing views about who should be given the responsibility of teaching it. Where it is regarded as little more than introducing students to some basic information and skills, the task may be given to a junior member of staff or perhaps a current doctoral student. Where methodology is regarded as an essential but rather abstract pursuit, the teaching may be left to more experienced faculty members with a ‘methodological cast of mind’. Of course, members of either group can be excellent teachers of research and both are represented among the authors in this book. Early career researchers often display a fresh enthusiasm for research and an inventiveness in their teaching, while senior academics can bring a depth of wisdom and breadth of perspective that make their research methods classes lively learning experiences for their students. But the outcomes are just as likely to be less than optimal. Junior staff may lack perspective and self-confidence; senior staff may be inflexible in their conception of research. In either case, the subject will not be taught as well as it might be. In any discipline, neither showing potential and enthusiasm nor, conversely, having a long record of research will itself make a good teacher. Both characteristics might be said to be a valuable but not a sufficient condition for the

Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

effective research methods teacher. Until research methods itself is accepted as central to students’ education in a discipline, and a passion for research and ability in teaching it as a sine qua non for research methods tutors, students are unlikely to learn how to do research well. It is only through the development of a pedagogical culture that excellence in teaching research methods can be encouraged and ensured. It is essential for those of us engaged in this field to work together to establish such a culture, to ensure that our collective work develops into an academic and pedagogical undertaking of a high standard. This is, as we said, the intention of this first collection of writings on the topic. The form and orientation of the book have been determined by the inchoate nature of the field. Our approach in selecting the various contributions has been deliberately eclectic, to give as wide a view as possible within the limitations of a single volume of the present state of the art. From its inception some four years ago, we have tried to ensure that this book would be more like a collegial discussion than a lecture; a conversation that reflects original and new insights into the pedagogy of research through the editors’ choice of the contributions. By including a wide range of shorter chapters, we have tried to achieve a relatively broad conspectus of current practice as the basis for further conceptualization of what research methods education can become. We also aimed for as wide as practicable a representation of views. The editors are from three different continents, and contributions are included from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. The disciplines represented include anthropology, education, nursing, psychology, social work and sociolinguistics. The authors include both senior, experienced researchers and early career academics teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We attempted to maintain coherence among this variety of perspectives and approaches by asking authors to emphasize those aspects of their work that are likely to be of interest to research methods teachers within any social science and in any university and to relate general principles and specific examples, conceptual discussion and classroom applications. There are, of course, points of variation, even discrepancy, between the positions adopted. This is desirable in an initial publication in the field, if only to reflect the enormous range of experience and practice among current teachers. After reviewing the received abstracts and requesting draft chapters from selected authors, the preliminary review process began with our comments as editors on the ideas presented via personal communication with the authors. When we were satisfied with the draft product the publisher put the ideas through a rigorous blind peer review process. All the chapters were sent to three reviewers (two in the UK and one in the US) who are experts in the field of research methodology and pedagogy for a thorough appraisal. Comments and suggestions received from the reviewers were considered and implemented. Once the revisions were submitted to the publisher another round of blind peer reviews was undertaken. We hope that readers will

Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods

form their own opinions and use whatever academic forum they can find to engage in debate with the writers. No collection of this size can be truly comprehensive, of course. We have had to take editorial decisions that mean that some aspects of the field are not as well covered as might be desired. Since there is already a sizeable literature on the teaching of statistics in particular, and to an extent quantitative research methods in general, we decided to place the focus largely (although not exclusively) on the more disparate and less widely discussed matters which concern qualitative research or which transcend the quantitative–qualitative division. Even so, there are obvious gaps. A number of methodological and pedagogical topics are given insufficient coverage, either because of editorial decisions or because no relevant contributions could be obtained. They include the relative merits of generic and discipline-specific research methods courses – a topic that surely merits a book of its own – the similarities and differences between undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and the optimal time that should be allocated to them. Organizing such a wide-ranging collection of writings has inevitably been a challenge. After much discussion and experiment, we decided to follow a pattern that roughly reflects a process of gradually establishing a pedagogical culture. Starting with more general historical and philosophical matters, the sections focus on increasingly specific pedagogical issues. A historical perspective reminds us that, in building a pedagogical culture, we are not starting from scratch or designing courses ex nihilo. Research methods have been taught for long enough to enable today’s teachers to learn something from earlier debates and experiments, and perhaps to avoid repeating some earlier mistakes. This history has not been examined to any great extent to date, but the two chapters in the Historical Perspectives section represent a valuable start on what should become a fruitful field of investigation. Peden and Carroll document changes in the psychology curriculum at the national level in the United States that have occurred in response to evolving views of the scientific and cultural status of the discipline in that country. A more personal reflection on 30 years of teaching educational research, also in the United States, is given by Preissle and Roulston. These two historical surveys are complementary, not only because they examine different disciplines from different perspectives but also because they bring into focus the predominantly quantitative orientation of one with the predominantly qualitative concerns of the other. The concluding remark by Preissle and Roulston, ‘we continue to watch, listen and learn’, could serve as a catchphrase for what we hope will become a growing area of interest in the history of research pedagogy – and indeed, for all of the sections in the book. The Approaches to the Curriculum section opens with Kawulich’s discussion of the role of theory in high-quality research. Drawing on her own experience, and the substantial literature, she poses a series of key pedagogical questions, such as: what is the relationship of theory to practice; are theories discipline-specific; and how do theories affect choice of methods? Some of her answers are likely to receive general agreement from other teachers; others may stimulate fruitful debate. Maree examines fundamental questions relating to epistemology in research. He

Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

deconstructs some common assumptions prevalent among students of research methods (and, at times, among their teachers), for instance, that experimental methods are ipso facto positivist. Against the background of an exposition of alternative epistemologies, such as positivism and social constructionism, he introduces critical realism as a means of transcending their shortcomings and as a basis for both quantitative and qualitative social science research. He also provides valuable advice on teaching research from a critical realist perspective. The philosophical (epistemological and ontological) choices underlying curriculum design in research methods courses are also the focus of the contribution by Wagner and Okeke. They argue that curriculum choices should not be determined by an unnecessary dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative approaches. Their own research, in South Africa and Nigeria, shows how choices between methodologies are too often ill informed and conclude that students should be equipped to make their own methodological decisions in the light of the epistemological and pragmatic issues surrounding any given study. Since every context in which research methods courses are run has its own distinctive features, there would be limited value in providing a sort of catalogue of specific degree programmes or courses in various institutions around the world. For those who would find such information helpful, the Internet is a ready resource. Nonetheless, instances of programmes that are structured around important pedagogical principles can serve as instructive examples. The chapter by Pascal and Brown well exemplifies the way in which issues of epistemology and ontology, discussed in depth in the preceding chapters, can be incorporated into the design of a degree sequence, rather than treated as discrete elements. (A similar function is performed for assessment in the chapter by Ward et al.: see below.) Pascal and Brown describe how a programme can incrementally develop students’ capacity to build research competence on the basis of a good understanding of epistemological and ontological principles. As well as outlining the philosophy behind their approach, they include examples of class exercises, which can serve as a useful resource of the kind called for in much of the correspondence we received in response to our call for contributions. A further characteristic of their chapter is that it is presented through the individual voices of two early career academics. As we mentioned above, the teaching of methods is frequently allocated to younger staff members who may feel that they lack the knowledge and experience to fulfil the task adequately. We hope that this chapter will be a source of encouragement to such people and as an example for experienced teachers of the sort of creativity that fresh minds can bring to curriculum design as well as to classroom teaching. The remaining two chapters in this section concern the importance of including in the curriculum a good grounding in the social interaction involved in research. Garner and Sercombe present a simple model of relationship types that has proved a useful heuristic helping students reflect on how they relate to the participants in their research. Given that the quality of data and the most appropriate means of analysing them are influenced – sometimes crucially so – by the relationships established between researcher and researched, the authors contend that a social

Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods

relations perspective is an essential component of methods courses in the social sciences. One aspect of social relations that is included in many courses is research ethics. In her survey of how the topic is taught, McAuliffe identifies four approaches (or five, if one includes the view that ethics simply cannot be taught). Three of these treat the topic as a discrete element within the course, to be given more or less detailed treatment. The fourth, which she advocates, is to see the ethical dimension ‘as a foundational part of the research process’ and one that therefore ‘needs to be incorporated as a key element in research training and education’. She provides a stage-by-stage discussion of the implication of ethical decisions in the design and conduct of a project, which will be of great value to anyone wishing to learn how to develop this essential awareness among students. The third section, Approaches to Developing Research Competence, comprises a number of chapters dealing with the more general knowledge, skills and competencies that students need to develop if they are to do good research. Based on the view that research is a series of decision-making processes, Earley presents a framework for developing students as ‘reflective researchers’. Three learning outcomes are identified: first, that students will be able to describe themselves as researchers in the context of the larger research community; second, that they will understand how reflection links all stages of research; third, that they will keep a journal. In achieving these goals, they learn both the ‘science’ and the ‘art’ of research. In his chapter, Roth writes from the perspective of teaching research as praxis, which aims to obviate the problem encountered by many graduates who find that what they learned about in their methods classes does not prepare them for actually doing research in the real world. Having expounded the theoretical bases of this approach, Roth examines the many complex demands of teaching graduate researchers through a form of ‘apprenticeship’, using a particular project as a case study. He shows how, rather than attempting to introduce the students to a pre-existing research culture, this approach sees teacher and learner of research as constituents in an evolving culture, which each shapes as much as he or she is shaped by it. Strayhorn’s chapter is an all too rare example of research into methods education (Wagner and Okeke also draw on their own fieldwork in their more theoreticallyoriented chapter). Using a self-report questionnaire, he examined the type and frequency of teaching strategies used in methods courses and their perceived effectiveness for students’ learning. He found that the two most frequently used strategies (lectures and reading textbooks) were rated least effective, while other less commonly used strategies (such as article critique) were rated highly. He discusses the implications of the findings for the development of effective pedagogy and suggests ways in which more innovative teaching can be developed. Although the sample size was too small to allow for definitive conclusions about such influences as ethnicity and gender, the findings are sufficiently suggestive to point to some directions for important future research. Another aspect of research methods education that has received too little systematic attention in the literature is the use of computers. Yet, as Nunes points

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out, computers are transforming our conceptions of how research is conducted, as well as opening up new fields of enquiry that were until quite recently unthinkable. He writes, ‘to conduct research in [many fields] without the use of computers is almost impossible’. This applies equally to quantitative and qualitative studies, which can be effectively integrated with the intelligent use of appropriate software. His chapter provides a brief outline of some of the resources available, either as special packages or through the Internet, together with some practical ways of incorporating the use of technology in all stages of a methods course. In the rapidly changing world of information technology, it is inevitable that such chapters will need to be constantly updated and revised. The nature and role of assessing students’ learning in research methods courses vary widely. In more well-established disciplines, there are ‘default’ methods of assessment (such as the academic essay and a portfolio of work), but there is no such method in this field. It is therefore an area of challenge and opportunity, but, as Ward, Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen, and Snow comment, assessment is too often treated as a final, add-on item in a curriculum, rather than being an integrated part that helps to enhance learning and motivation. The writers present an example of the use of a wide range of options in a four-year undergraduate programme. Although, in the shorter postgraduate courses in which much research methods teaching occurs, the full scope and extent of their strategies may not be practicable, their detailed discussion of the theoretical issues and the practicalities of their application should be a source of information and inspiration to teachers at all levels. The fourth section includes chapters dealing with approaches to teaching particular methodologies. It would, of course, be impossible to treat all of the methodologies that are included in courses. Furthermore, particularly in qualitative research, methodology is evolving rapidly. The contributions given here represent a small sample of the range of possibilities and challenges raised by the need to ensure that students develop not only a knowledge of very different methodologies, but more importantly a grasp of the principles underlying them. The selection of exemplary discussions in this section will, we hope, make the goal of developing reflective researchers (as defined in Earley’s Chapter 9) more achievable. Taylor writes about the particular demands of teaching participatory research methodology. Participatory research is based on the premise that ‘people know and are capable of identifying and sharing issues [and] analysing and learning from their analysis’. It transcends the traditional distinction between researcher and researched, and helps to avoid the problem of research that answers theoretical questions while leaving unaddressed the real-world problems that gave rise to them. Taylor highlights the motivational effects that engaging with participants can have on students. He also stresses the difficulties: this type of research depends on a degree of self-confidence and maturity of the researcher as well as a grasp of the relationship between concept and practice. There are clear connections here with the social relations approach advocated by Garner and Sercombe.

Towards a Pedagogical Culture in Research Methods

Practitioners in many fields are increasingly required to acquire research skills as part of their professional education and training. Nguyen and Lam address the particular demands of teaching these students, who may fail to see the relevance of learning how to do research. They discuss a range of ineffective teaching strategies and present alternatives that have proved to be more effective. Like several other authors, they emphasize the importance of adopting a collaborative approach to teaching that takes full cognizance of the students’ misconceptions and fears about the subject. Case study is a common methodology in many of the human sciences, but it is one that is not easy to teach well. Students all too often regard case studies as nothing more than a fallback to be used if the sample population is too small for other more ‘substantial’ methods. Zucker’s chapter demonstrates that case study is a well-developed methodology with a substantial theoretical base and distinctive data gathering and analytical techniques. She describes how rigorous case studies can be designed and implemented, illustrating each point with reference to the investigation of patients with coronary heart disease. Liu and Carspecken give a similarly thorough examination of critical ethnography. They focus on how to maintain a symmetry between curriculum and pedagogy, which is important in all teaching but particularly so in relation to this particular methodology, in which ‘the curriculum is the pedagogy’. The principles that guide classroom interactions must reflect and reinforce those of the methodology itself. The authors discuss symmetries of, amongst others, design, relationships and power, and also identify two inevitable asymmetries which must be openly addressed with the students if the methodology is to be successfully learned. The final section comprises two chapters that address an aspect of growing relevance to research methods education, but one that has as yet been little investigated, namely, the pedagogy of non-traditional students. Grundy and McGinn are, respectively, a student with a hearing disability and her supervisor. Their collaboration in teaching and learning exemplifies how, through sensitive collaboration, the difficulties that students with disabilities encounter in developing research skills not only can be avoided or overcome, but can lead to new breakthroughs in methodology that have potentially wider application. In the final chapter, Flores Farfán, Garner and Kawulich outline some of the challenges of teaching the increasing numbers of students whose epistemologies differ significantly from those that dominate the research paradigm of most methods courses. ‘International’ students from African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American societies (for example), as well as indigenous and immigrant minorities within Western societies, bring to their studies a range of alternative, sometimes fundamentally different, ways of viewing education and knowledge. This raises crucial pedagogical questions. Is the goal of our research methods courses to inculcate these students into the Western paradigm (see Preissle and Roulston, Chapter 1)? Is all research culturally relative? Given the present state of our knowledge (or ignorance), the answers to these questions have to be largely anecdotal. The authors discuss a number of illustrative examples of their own


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

experience in an attempt to identify the issues, address some of the cultural pitfalls and enrich the pedagogy through creative incorporation of alternative epistemological and pragmatic concerns. This section barely scratches the surface of the issues raised by the increasing presence of non-traditional students in research methods courses; this is an area of investigation that offers enormous potential in our quest for a pedagogical culture within research methods. We have repeatedly expressed our ambition that this collection will serve as a jumping-off point, and an encouragement to the many colleagues who are involved in research methods teaching to develop networks, share ideas, clarify issues and engage in debate. We hope that this will begin to happen at all levels: institutional; local; national; and international. There has inevitably been a great deal of hard work demanded of all the contributors to bring this volume to fruition and we have been greatly impressed by the willingness of all to produce drafts and to rewrite them in response to our editorial suggestions, within tight deadlines. In our dealings with all contributors we have met with enthusiasm and encouragement. A high level of collegiality and collaboration are necessary for a pedagogical culture within research methods to develop, and our experience in editing this book convinces us that the prospects for the future in this regard are very bright.

Part I Historical Perspectives

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Chapter 1

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective Judith Preissle and Kathryn Roulston

Drawing from the literature on teaching qualitative research methods, our own research on the topic and our experiences in developing a qualitative research programme that celebrated its 30th anniversary in January 2006, we examine key trends and central issues in preparing qualitative researchers. Based in the US, Judith Preissle offered the University of Georgia’s first designated course in qualitative research in 1976 to five doctoral students in the College of Education. At that time, most aspiring qualitative researchers were being educated as she had been, through a combination of apprenticeship, extensive reading, bits on fieldwork in courses on other topics and trial and error experiences. This preparation had more or less adequately served the small minority of qualitative researchers working in the social and professional sciences to that point in time. By 2006, in contrast, over 50 doctoral students from fields across the university have graduated with our Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies Certificate, preparing them to practise and teach qualitative research methods and design. The emerging, interdisciplinary methodology of qualitative research presents us, like other qualitative research instructors around the globe, with both familiar on-going concerns and new challenges. In this chapter we discuss five issues most qualitative research instructors face: (1) representing the interdisciplinary roots of qualitative research; (2) balancing theory and practice; (3) integrating apprenticeships into class-based instruction; (4) balancing credentialism and scholarship while addressing both the intrinsic and the instrumental values for qualitative work; and (5) working with student researchers from many cultural backgrounds and countries using scholarship in qualitative research methodology that has developed primarily in the West. One problem we wish to avoid in teaching qualitative research is depending on simplistic recipes for research design. One kind of recipe grounds decisions in deterministic epistemological, philosophical and theoretical perspectives. Students are taught that philosophy and theory dictate design and methods. For novice qualitative researchers, this approach poses the dangers of adhering to strict methodological prescriptions with little regard for varying contexts or sensitivity to emergent research problems. A second recipe for research design begins with prescriptions for collecting and analysing data, but ignores epistemological and theoretical assumptions underlying the researcher’s choices. A third recipe is based


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

on the premise that the research question drives the development of methods and design with no consideration for either context or the theories and philosophies that frame all questions about the world. We believe that instructors of qualitative research courses should avoid teaching research design as a linear recipe-like process, and we aim to provide novice qualitative researchers with sufficient understanding of theory to allow them to make appropriate choices. These include considering theories and methods that may be flexibly used to study research problems in social settings. Students can then be encouraged to apply their knowledge of theories and methods to realworld social problems in the context of theoretical discussions and contemporary debates in a range of exercises. The intention is to socialize students into a ‘culture of research’ (Eisenhart and DeHaan, 2005, 7) and also to foster opportunities for them to demonstrate and develop creative and innovative scholarship. In this approach, theories, methods and questions interact in a mutually defining fashion, and trainee researchers learn to reflect on how choices in each area affect reconsideration of the other areas. Representing the Interdisciplinary Roots of Qualitative Research The literatures from which we draw in teaching qualitative research are derived from multiple disciplines, including anthropology, arts and humanities, communications, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and education and other applied fields. This profusion of methodological sources provides rich material for conceptualizing and designing research projects, as well as diverse examples of empirical research from varied communities of scholarly practice. Our experience shows that it can also be an obstacle to students’ understanding, for a number of reasons. First, what is seen as ‘normal’ science or inquiry varies from one discipline to another (Hammersley, 2004). Students enter our courses with different assumptions about what qualitative research is and should be; they are often familiar with one perspective and tend to valourize it above others. This kind of single-mindedness can be reinforced by the literature of each discipline. Our challenge as teachers is to demonstrate to students the value of learning how different disciplines and fields vary in scholarly culture, style and practice. Support for interdisciplinary scholarship, we believe, begins with inculcating respect for diversity among our newest scholars and researchers. Second, the profusion of scholarly sources from multiple fields presents a linguistic issue: there is no systematic or consistent use of terminology in qualitative research across disciplines. The task for instructors, then, is to assist beginning researchers to construct preliminary scaffolding for understanding theory, from which students may then refine their understanding of how theories inform their research questions on discipline-specific substantive topics. The benefits for qualitative researchers of working through these challenges and

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective


drawing on the interdisciplinary applications of qualitative inquiry, however, are many. For example, the journey of one author (Kathryn) into qualitative research has required crossing disciplinary boundaries from music education into the field of education. Her studies in the sociology of education and collaborations with researchers in other disciplines have assisted her in conducting research informed by alternative perspectives that are less commonly used in her disciplinary home of music education, which historically has relied on multivariate arguments and experimental research designs. One recent research collaboration with scholars and teacher–researchers in reading education (Aaron et al., 2006) inspired a teacher– research collaboration among practising music teachers and university educators (Roulston et al., 2005). Our students have had similar experiences. For example, linguists have framed studies using different sociological theories; language and literacy educators have learned alternative representational strategies from the arts and humanities; mathematics educators have posed deconstructive questions of their data; and science educators have explored applications of narrative inquiry. Not all qualitative research methods courses are delivered to students from a range of disciplines, of course. We have had intense discussions with colleagues who believe that research methods must be taught only within a disciplinary tradition to assure the congruence between the subject matter and its knowledge production. Some argue that this aim is undermined by what they view as content neutral statistics. Furthermore, programmes in sociology, anthropology, counselling, speech, business and other fields do provide qualitative coursework tailored to their specialties. Nonetheless, the experience of one author (Judith), in running a summer programme in fieldwork methods with colleagues in sociology, was that even content-specific qualitative research methods offerings attract a diverse crowd. Graduate students in the programme came from health professions, hotel administration and other management programmes, education, as well as the social and behavioural sciences (Grant et al., 1999). Although academics do teach qualitative research methods and design to specific discipline groups, to restrict the material to the given discipline denies students access to the valuable breadth of scholarship that can inform qualitative endeavours. Balancing Theory and Practice As in many doctoral programmes, our own College of Education students come from multiple disciplinary backgrounds and bring to their studies diverse work experiences and prior learning. Although the majority of our students are pursuing doctoral degrees in education, we also work with students from the social sciences and professional fields other than education. As instructors, we face an initial challenge of assisting students to become familiar with the academic discourses found in writing on qualitative research methodology. Although some students eagerly embrace and immerse themselves in theoretical writings others, some of whom have extensive practitioner experience, find the onslaught of unfamiliar


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

terms and abstract concepts replete with numerous ‘ologies’ and ‘isms’ to be overwhelming. Students are faced with learning new terminology and academic discourses. They are called on to read, write and make abstractions from their experience in new and different ways. Initial encounters with social science theory are daunting for some students and prompt their complaints, but we believe it is important to resist calls to resort to simpler descriptions of ‘methods’ of fieldwork practice or recipes for doing research. As Eisenhart and DeHaan (2005) argue, in an effective doctoral programme ‘students must experience firsthand the culture of research’ (p. 7). They propose that doctoral students must: learn how to pose researchable questions whether requiring quantitative or qualitative methods or data; develop strategies for sampling, data collection, and analysis; learn ways of reasoning and arguing from evidence, means of assessing quality, styles of writing for technical reports and publishable articles, and ways of scrutinizing and constructively critiquing others’ work (Eisenhart and deHaan, 2005).

For qualitative researchers to pose ‘researchable questions’, they need to be competently versed in how theoretical decision-making informs research design and how different epistemological and theoretical assumptions are congruent with different kinds of research questions and research designs (see Kawulich, Chapter 3). To this end, qualitative research courses need to survey a range of theoretical approaches to research and be taught by instructors who represent a range of theoretical and methodological expertise. Through exposure to a wide spectrum of readings and engagement with qualitative researchers who conduct research from different perspectives, students can begin to identify with the theories that will be best suited to their research purposes. Whether students intend to conduct qualitative research for the purpose of understanding, emancipation or deconstruction (Lather, 2004), through directing our students to exemplars of research conducted from different epistemological assumptions, they can be assisted to formulate research questions consistent with the purposes, theory and methods selected or developed. Our approach to teaching, then, is iterative – aiming for an elaborated understanding of theory, concepts and terms over time. This process frequently resembles back-and-forth journeys between confusion and clarity, as students encounter and struggle with theoretical issues in the midst of the problems that emerge during fieldwork. As Dewey (1939) emphasizes, action and knowledge, theory and practice, are inseparable human activities. Practical engagement in field-related exercises and authentic research activities is integral to discussion of theoretical issues. Reading about the theory and methodology of qualitative research, as our students have reported, produces certain understandings that are illuminated through doing (Roulston et al., 2003). Working through this iteration also can relieve a common problem of novice researchers. Some of our most skilled interviewers and fieldworkers, who rely on interpersonal prowess to gather

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective


qualitative data, have tended to delay ‘thinking’ about what they have until ‘later’. As the data accumulate, the propensity may increase to postpone serious analysis. Urging students to recognize that they are ‘thinking the data’ all along and to learn to think more systematically and self-consciously (see Earley, Chapter 9) helps prevent the confusion brought on by not knowing what to do with the data they have collected. Yet there are no simple or clear routes to the production of scientific knowledge for qualitative researchers – whether expert or novice. As people increase their knowledge, they also understand the limits of that knowledge. Research often provokes more (and more complex) questions than those that it seeks to answer. This is especially true of research projects on the constantly changing experiences and contexts of human life that are especially vulnerable to this pattern and researchers must learn patience, flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity. Integrating Apprenticeships into Class-based Instruction We have argued that adequate theoretical preparation is essential to the education of qualitative researchers if they are to design and conduct worthwhile research and that this theoretical preparation must be balanced with practical experiences in doing research. Students must be able to work through the difficult issues raised in methodological writing. For example, how do researchers conceptualize the participants in their studies? What are the implications of this conceptualization for representation of ‘others’? How can masses of qualitative data be reduced to an article length report? What do researchers do when the people they study disagree with the researchers’ interpretations? Many of us who are teaching research methods learned to do research in apprenticeships with senior scholars. We are now faced with providing large numbers of students with research opportunities to work through just these kinds of questions. Both authors began our research careers as apprentices, working closely and individually with a faculty mentor. Lacking the organization and structure provided by class instruction and course work, we often learned through trial and error, reflecting on our mistakes and then writing about what we did next. Our present challenge is to provide our students with a different kind of apprenticeship experience that provides reflective critique and supervision within the different learning environment of structured coursework (see Roth, Chapter 10). This is possible if beginning researchers engage in authentic research projects to develop skills in all facets of qualitative inquiry, including data collection, analysis and representation, and peer evaluation (Grant et al., 1999). In our own courses, we supervise students in both group and individual projects that allow them to grapple with a variety of issues, including ethical dilemmas (see McAuliffe, Chapter 8) and the influence on research methods of gatekeepers and ethical review committees. Apprenticeships in coursework include the following:


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

1. Supervised classroom projects. In these projects, students conduct an individual project of their own choosing for which they receive the instructor’s approval. Given the regulations governing university research in the US, these projects must conform to certain guidelines outlined by each university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) (ethics committee). At our university, these kinds of classroom projects may not involve videotaping, sensitive topics such as sexuality, or children and other participants deemed to be vulnerable. 2. Individual projects. Some students prepare research projects and obtain IRB approval prior to coursework. Unlike data developed in class projects, data generated from these individual projects may be used by students in conference presentations and publications. 3. Authentic team projects. In some of our courses, students have engaged in authentic projects for which the instructor has gained IRB approval prior to the course (see Garner and Sercombe, Chapter 7). Like individual projects, these assignments provide opportunities for students to engage, for example, in conducting individual interviews and focus groups. As a basis for a course on interviewing, one author (Kathryn) designed a number of qualitative interview studies in collaboration with key persons from different on-campus units, each of which resulted in a report to a client group on a topic of concern to the unit involved. Client groups have included a conference planning department, a university department, and a group of librarians and media specialists. At the end of the course, students presented oral and written reports of preliminary findings to the client group. Team projects have also provided students opportunities to collect and sometimes analyse data for ongoing research conducted by various faculty members at our institution. This provides us with the chance to introduce students to the varying levels of responsibility for research and the expectations for acknowledgment, authorship and such (see Roth, Chapter 10). As scholars in a research university, we encourage our students to present the findings of their research for local, national and international audiences through conferences and publications. We realize, however, that our students have a great variety of career aspirations and trajectories, and while some intend to pursue research career paths similar to our own, many do not. This represents a different challenge to research methods teachers, to which we now turn. Balancing Credentialism and Scholarship and Addressing both the Intrinsic and the Instrumental Values for Qualitative Work As emphasized earlier, we value multiple qualitative traditions as ways to produce knowledge about social life and view research methods as integral to generating knowledge. In teaching qualitative research, however, this emphasis on scholarship

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective


sometimes conflicts with the goals of students who undertake advanced research degrees to obtain credentials that assist them in workplaces outside the academy, with no intention of pursuing scholarly careers. For them, learning research methods is simply a requirement in achieving the degree as a means for promotion or higher salaries. In 1979, the sociologist Collins argued that credentialism had become the mechanism controlling professional mobility across higher status occupations in societies around the world: students’ ‘reasons for going to school are extraneous to whatever goes on in the classroom’ (p. 192). Graduate education in the US is experiencing this kind of credentialist pressure. For example, in a 2004 national survey of earned education doctorates in the US, of the 67.7 per cent of 6,635 graduates who had ‘definite employment plans’ on graduation, only 7.7 per cent mentioned ‘research and development’ as the primary activity (Smallwood, 2005). Although we expect some students in our qualitative certificate programme will take academic positions, others do not (Preissle, 1999). Research degrees thus serve two somewhat disparate ends: to prepare scholars to conduct their inquiries and to facilitate career advancement. Given the emphasis on scholarship in academe (see, for example, National Research Council, 2005), as instructors we are placed in the uncomfortable position of managing the gatekeeping demands of the academy to ensure high-quality qualitative research, while avoiding the pitfalls of what Janesick terms ‘methodolatory’: ‘a preoccupation with selecting and defending methods to the exclusion of the actual substance of the story being told’ (1998, 48). For example, the documentation of attainment of various ‘indicators’ is one common method to ensure quality work. Doctoral preparation that relies on many programme requirements may work to restrict the creative aspects of scholarship and reduce doctoral work to the following of recipelike formulas. Even though such recipes may encapsulate best practice, scholarship must continue to develop and requires a creativity that may not be encouraged by the documentary practices associated with credentialism. We believe that all students, regardless of their motivations for pursuing a degree, are best served by being introduced to the most powerful and creative ways of exploring questions about human experience and that this approach ensures that they are well prepared to design and conduct quality research (Richardson, 2006). The Hegemony of Western Research Practice Finally, we address the teaching of qualitative research at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a time of rapid growth in migration and new patterns of virtual work conducted across physical boundaries. We conclude with an issue that concerns us, that of the hegemony of Western research practice. The scholar of the future may well be mobile and multi- or bilingual, relating to multiple geographical spaces as ‘home’. Yet we ourselves primarily draw on Western qualitative traditions. Although we teach researchers who come from many countries around the world and who bring with them various indigenous traditions


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

of inquiry, we have had no formal preparation for teaching research to students from non-Western cultures. Our classrooms include scholars who conduct their research and analysis in languages other than English, languages we neither speak nor read. Our students manage their fieldwork in settings physically distant from the institution in which the studies were conceived. New ethical dilemmas await these researchers. Our challenge as instructors is to prepare qualitative researchers who conduct research ethically and can adapt and create the kinds of research practices that are culturally sensitive to their nations of origin. As instructors we strive to develop a reflexive teaching practice in which we comprehend our positionalities and practice openness in working with others. At least three issues are significant: 1. Gaining entry for research in local communities. The review procedures used by IRBs in Western institutions reflect expectations that may differ from those for ethical conduct in other countries. Students need to familiarize themselves with these conventions before beginning fieldwork. In the field, there may be a problem in obtaining consent from participants, some of whom may be well versed in the norms of academic inquiry and readily agree to participate and sign the consent forms required, but others may not. Beginning researchers may thus encounter quite different expectations and responses to their requests for consent, and they are advised to ‘make haste slowly’. 2. What happens to data? Although the repatriation of data is more likely to be an issue in some fields, such as anthropology, than in others, such as education, the question must be considered. Many cultural groups have begun to demand the return of data generated by anthropologists, with thorny legal and social issues to be sorted out in local communities (for example, data may be used in court hearings to settle community disputes over property rights). For researchers engaged in participatory approaches to research, questions about the naming and recognizability of participants in reports and publications arise, along with questions about authorship. With advances in technologies used in research, new ethical questions develop about the display and use of audio and video data in representations of research and how data also might be used for researchers in future teaching and research. While ethical review boards struggle over the legal interpretation of regulations, researchers must work through the very real ethical dilemmas posed by following and translating rules and regulations formulated in one country, but enacted in another. 3. Translated data. Many of our students conduct interviews and collect data in languages other than English. Because their dissertations are presented in English, questions arise about the point at which translation takes place – in transcription, during analysis, in representation. What is lost in translation? What transformations take place? How do researchers represent languages other than English in publications, when journal space is limited?

Trends in Teaching Qualitative Research: A 30-year Perspective


These are three of the many issues in teaching students from across the world. We have found that, with each new regulation applied in our university and with every advance in technology, we, with our students, struggle for answers to fresh questions. Fortunately a growing body of scholarship addresses issues relevant to indigenous scholars. For example, Smith (2005, 92) provides specific strategies for ‘building indigenous research capability’ that instructors in the West can consult, and a growing literature informs qualitative inquirers conducting research in crosscultural contexts (Bishop, 2005; Mutua and Swadener, 2004; Smith, 1999). Conclusions In this chapter, we have outlined issues that continue to challenge us in teaching qualitative research methods. We have provided no quick fix solutions to any of the following: 1) representing the interdisciplinary roots of qualitative research; 2) balancing theory and practice; 3) integrating research experiences into class-based instruction; 4) balancing credentialism and scholarship; and 5) the hegemony of Western research practice. Our struggles with each of these issues are shared by our students, sometimes in ways that we have yet to understand, and they can have much to teach us about these and other challenges. As qualitative researchers we continue to watch, listen and learn.

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Chapter 2

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods by Psychologists in the United States Blaine F. Peden and David W. Carroll

Introduction Teaching about research methods always has been an integral part of the psychology curriculum in the United States. From 1901 to 1905, Edward Titchener authored a series of ‘Experimental Psychology’ manuals for students and instructors. The detailed manuals introduced graduate students to laboratory equipment and procedures and defined the subject matter of the new science of psychology. By the middle of the twentieth century, most psychology undergraduates learned about research methods in experimental psychology courses and from textbooks expressing some variation of the course title. At present most psychology undergraduates learn about quantitative methods and analysis (that is, statistics), philosophy of science and research ethics in research methods courses and from similarly titled textbooks. In this chapter, we explore this transformation in teaching research methods by psychologists in the United States. Our chapter is a first step in reviewing the history of teaching research methods and one that we hope will stimulate further inquiry. This chapter explores when, why and how research methods emerged as a new course in the undergraduate curriculum in psychology in the United States. For the most part the new research methods courses displaced and replaced experimental psychology courses. We regard these questions about the emergence of research methods as interesting and important to psychologists and other social scientists. We contend that the questions and concerns of psychologists that led to models for teaching research methods in the United States establish points of reference for comparing and contrasting methods of teaching research in other countries. Future studies, for example, can compare and contrast traditions to determine whether and how other nations have conformed to or departed from the approach in the United States. It is interesting to understand the origins of research methods as a separate course because experimental psychology, statistics and research methods courses are intertwined in the psychology curriculum in a complex way. For example, experimental psychology courses have been part of the curriculum for more than


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

100 years, and statistics has been a separate course since the 1930s for psychology undergraduates (Henry, 1938). In contrast, research methods courses emerged in the 1960s, spread in the 1970s, and became one of the more prevalent and most required courses in the undergraduate psychology curriculum in the United States (Jackson et al., 2001). It is important to understand the origins of research methods as a separate course for two reasons. One reason is that psychology becomes a more diverse discipline every decade. Despite the overwhelming diversity, the unifying theme is that psychologists understand behaviour using the methods of science (Stanovich, 2007). In the contemporary psychology curriculum the task of instructing undergraduates about the unity in diversity largely occurs in research methods courses. A second reason is that the processes of change we explore in this chapter may apply to other social sciences in the college curriculum. It is quite plausible that other social sciences have followed the psychology model, as it was the first and most systematically developed approach to teaching research methods. In fact, many current social science instructors probably learned about research methods in classes designed primarily for psychology students. We address three questions in this chapter: • When did research methods emerge as a separate course in psychology? • Why did research methods emerge as a separate course in psychology? • How did research methods emerge as a separate course in psychology? We answer the first question by reviewing studies of college catalogues to establish a timeline that tracks the incidence of research methods courses. We explore the second question by linking changes in the treatment of statistics/experimental psychology/research methods to discussions and recommendations from the major appraisals of the undergraduate curriculum in psychology. We address the third question by means of longitudinal studies of catalogues and by inspection of textbooks. We conclude by discussing recent trends, suggesting new research and considering to what extent our analysis applies to other social sciences. When did Research Methods Emerge as a Separate Course in Psychology? Content analyses of college catalogues provide one way to study trends in curricular offerings for undergraduates in psychology. In fact, psychologists have published major reviews of catalogues six times between 1938 and 1997. In the earliest study of the catalogues of 157 liberal arts colleges, Henry (1938) reported that methodology was a highly-specialized course intended for graduate students, but sometimes enrolled undergraduates. Henry also reported that 27 per cent of the institutions offered at least one laboratory course in advanced experimental psychology for undergraduates. Sanford and Fleishman (1950), who studied a larger and more diverse sample of 330 institutions of higher learning, revealed

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods


that 45 per cent of the institutions taught a statistics course and 57 per cent taught an experimental psychology course. Daniel et al. (1965) found that statistics and experimental psychology courses were more common than research methods in their sample of 207 college and university catalogues. Their data reveal that research methods classes were taking root in doctoral universities but not in liberal arts and teachers’ colleges. The data in the 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1997 college catalogue studies clearly show that the 1950s to 1970s were a formative period for undergraduate psychology, and only later in the period did research methods emerge as a separate course. Kulik (1973) included a detailed analysis and discussion regarding statistics and methodology courses on the basis of the catalogues from 643 institutions (see Table 12 in the original report). Specifically, Kulik noted that 52 per cent of the catalogues identified their required course in methodology as experimental psychology and only 13 per cent listed research design as a separate course. Lux and Daniel (1978), who replicated the catalogue study of Daniel et al. (1965) with 178 catalogues, noted that 50 per cent of the institutions taught experimental psychology courses and 34 per cent now taught a separate research methods courses. Perlman and McCann (1999), who updated the Lux and Daniels study by reading 400 catalogues, indicated that the percentage of institutions listing research methods in their college catalogues increased from 0 per cent in 1961 to 42 per cent in 1997. During the same period, the percentage of college courses listing experimental psychology courses remained level at 40–45 per cent. We have collated the data from these studies regarding the percentage of all undergraduate psychology programmes at three levels of institutions (that is, doctoral, masters, bachelors’ and a two-year course) listing the statistics, research methods and experimental psychology courses in college catalogues for the period 1961–2005. Our data supplement those of Perlman and McCann (1999) with recent results for 463 schools from the APA Office of Research for The Profiles of Undergraduate Programs in Psychology for 2003–2005 ( pcue/offerings.html). Note that Figure 2.1 plots the data as a function of the year of the catalogues rather than the publication date. Thus, the 1961 figure represents the data published by Daniel et al. (1965). Figure 2.1 reveals the experimental psychology, statistics and research methods courses as distinct entities. Experimental psychology courses have been part of the curriculum for more than a hundred years and statistics has been a separate course since the 1930s (and perhaps earlier). Furthermore, offerings of statistics have grown slightly over the years, with the largest gains in the last few years. Historically, statistics courses have been more prevalent than either experimental psychology or research methods courses. The story is different for research methods. Research methods appeared as a separate course in the late 1960s and early 1970s and gained in popularity in the last 35 years while the experimental psychology course is less common now than 40 years ago.


Figure 2.1

Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Research courses in psychology curricula from 1961–2005 in the United States

Figure 2.2 shows the percentage of doctoral, bachelors’ and a two-year course, institutions in the United States listing undergraduate research methods in their catalogues. The trend for the three institutions is the same as the overall trend in Figure 2.1; however, the percentages are elevated for bachelors’ and even higher for doctoral institutions. By 2005, research methods is well entrenched at doctoral institutions (79 per cent) and bachelors’ institutions (77 per cent), and making inroads at colleges that offer a two-year course (20 per cent). Bachelors’ degree institutions narrowed the gap by 2005; however, colleges that offer a two-year course still lag far behind the doctoral and bachelors’ degree institutions. It appears that doctoral institutions always have led the way with respect to offerings of research methods courses. Henry (1938) described a similar pattern in which larger (that

Figure 2.2

Frequency of research methods courses in different types of institutions from 1975–2005

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods


is, doctoral institutions) colleges led the way with respect to offering advanced laboratories in experimental psychology for undergraduates. We speculate that concerns about the methodological competencies of graduate students led doctoral programmes to provide opportunities for their own undergraduates to develop their research methods skills. Presumably, the additional methods courses would help undergraduates enter and succeed in graduate programmes. Why did Research Methods Emerge as a Separate Course in Psychology? We explore the answer to this question by linking changes in the treatment of statistics/experimental psychology/research methods to discussions and recommendations from the major assessments of the undergraduate curriculum in psychology: • • • • •

the Cornell Conference in 1951 (Buxton et al., 1952), the Michigan Conference in 1960 (McKeachie and Milholland, 1961), the Kulik Report (1973), the St. Mary’s Conference (McGovern, 1993), the guidelines for psychology majors (APA, 2007).

All the reports appraised the prevailing curricula and all except the Kulik Report (1973) provided recommendations about the content and structure of undergraduate curricula. Lloyd and Brewer (1992) and Brewer (1997) provided a synopsis of the four conferences and the recommendations of the conference committees. The Cornell Conference in 1951 resulted in the Buxton et al. Report (1952). The committee recommended a curriculum (p. 17) in which the intermediate or core courses included statistics and topical courses. Although the committee plan included the requirement that method be taught with content, the committee also wrote: The omission of a course on experimental psychology and the inclusion of one on statistical reasoning require explanation. A separate course on experimental psychology has survived as a token of an earlier day when certain areas in the field of psychology were experimental, others not. In recent years it has been a methodology course, but the persisting problem has been that of finding a content. Methodology empty of content is difficult, dry stuff for the undergraduate, and not productive of much transfer. Basic methodology and scientific attitudes seem to be essentially the same throughout all psychology. If that is true, the learning of methodology as part of each core course is pedagogically an improvement over the traditional separate laboratory course. With regard to statistics, however, a different arrangement seems more efficient. To accomplish anything of permanent value in statistics, a special course seems necessary (Buxton et al., 1952, 27).


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Clearly, the main concern here was to champion curricular change in the experimental psychology course. The same concern also set the stage for a new genre of courses and textbooks. The Michigan Conference in 1960 produced the McKeachie and Milholland Report (1961). The committee identified and discussed various weaknesses in the undergraduate curricula. In fact, the committee specifically addressed the dissatisfaction of many psychologists with the traditional course in experimental psychology. As commonly taught with a laboratory exercise each week, the course seemed infrequently to achieve the objectives of developing positive attitudes toward scientific methods in psychology or of giving students an overall view of scientific investigation (p. 14). Chapter 6 of the McKeachie and Milholland Report (1961) focused on the experimental–statistical area in part because the committee members ‘were unanimous that methodology should be included in the curriculum for majors’ (p. 73). The committee further assumed that the introductory course would introduce both quantitative (statistics) and laboratory (experimental) methods to undergraduates and the real question was how to structure further training. The committee proposed three models: 1. Present experimental methods and quantitative methods as part of the laboratory work in other courses (Model 1). 2. Institute separate but parallel or sequential courses, one in experimental methodology, and the other in quantitative methods (Model 2). 3. Establish a separate course in quantitative methods, with experimental methodology covered in the other laboratory courses (Model 3). The committee also considered and delineated the pros and cons of the three options: infuse both; separate courses; or require statistics and infuse research methods. It is clear that there was much less consensus about teaching research methods than about teaching statistics. The committee also proposed an inverted pyramid curriculum in which methodological and statistical training occurred early in undergraduate education in psychology. An advisory panel, meeting from July 1969 to June 1972, issued the Kulik Report (1973), which, as Brewer (1997) concluded, was a largely descriptive rather than prescriptive assessment of the undergraduate psychology curriculum. One chapter in the Kulik Report presented a detailed analysis of statistics and methodology courses (that is, statistics, experimental psychology, research design and senior research projects) that allowed psychology departments to evaluate the relative status of their own curricula. For example, the Report affirmed the importance of instruction in statistics and methods for psychology majors and noted that most schools offer separate courses rather than infusing statistics and methods into core courses. In 1988 the Association of American Colleges convened various disciplinary study groups. The psychology study group produced an article by McGovern

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods


et al. (1991). One of the many common goals (pp. 601–602) was that undergraduates have research methods and statistical skills. Specifically, the committee recommended three courses: statistics, research methods, and testing and measurement, and that: these skills should be fostered in separate courses, developed in laboratory work, and reinforced by the use of critical discussion of research findings and methods in every course. Whatever the mode of instruction, students should become increasingly independent in posing questions about the study of behaviour and experience and in selecting effective methods to answer those questions (McGovern et al., 1991, 601).

The APA National Conference on Enhancing the Quality of Undergraduate Education in Psychology was held at St. Mary’s College of Maryland during 18–23 June 1991. The resulting handbook (McGovern, 1993) entailed the ‘most comprehensive analysis and recommendations about undergraduate psychology since bipeds appeared on the evolutionary totem pole’ (Brewer, 1997, 438). Furthermore, the Report advocated that: the crucial methodology courses should cover experimental, correlational, and case study techniques of research, and they should involve firsthand data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Methodology courses should cover statistics, research design, and psychometric methods, and they should be prerequisites for some of the content courses (Brewer, 1997, 439).

It is noteworthy that the recommendations regarding teaching research methodology did not mention anything about qualitative methods. Furthermore, Jackson et al. (2001) distinguished between experimental and non-experimental (that is, observational, survey, correlational and quasi-experimental) methods, but did not include qualitative methods as a category in their analysis of the demographics of research methods textbooks in psychology. The Cornell, Michigan, Kulik and St. Mary’s Reports all evaluated the prevailing undergraduate curriculum in psychology and typically offered recommendations. The developing picture suggests that research methods emerged as a separate course in the psychology curriculum after the McKeachie and Milholland Report (1961) and gathered momentum following the Kulik Report (1973). In 2001 the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs appointed a task force on undergraduate psychology major competencies that produced guidelines subsequently approved by the APA Council of Representatives in August 2006. The APA Report (2007) identified ten undergraduate psychology learning goals and a series of suggested learning outcomes for each goal. Goal 2 pertained to research methods in psychology: ‘students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation’. None of the suggested learning outcomes for this goal includes


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

terms such as ‘experiment’, ‘experimentation’ or ‘experimental psychology’. Quite clearly, a full transformation from the original view of research in psychology as an exclusively experimental/laboratory one, which is methodologically more inclusive, was now complete. Nonetheless, the goals and related learning outcomes do not mention qualitative research per se. How did Research Methods Emerge as a Separate Course in Psychology? One possibility is that the individuals attending these successive conferences played a role in the evolution of the research methods course, at least at their home institutions and perhaps more widely. Of course, the picture is murky because we do not know the extent to which the reports were disseminated, read and discussed by academic psychologists throughout the United States. In addition, other factors were contributing to a zeitgeist of curricular change. For example, Holder et al. (1958) reported the results of a survey about the views of departmental chairs regarding an ideal undergraduate curriculum for prospective graduate students. Some departments may have been prompted to make curricular changes to better prepare their students for graduate school. In addition, Hepler (1959) addressed the prevailing discontent with the traditional experimental psychology course by depicting students mindlessly performing pre-planned experiments rather than engaging in meaningful research that could stimulate and develop the creative talents of students. Hepler also concluded that the appropriate course was ‘basically a methodology course’ (p. 638) that engages students in research projects of their own design. This challenge was met by authors who modified the format of existing experimental psychology textbooks or created ones for the new genre, a topic we address later in our discussion of research methods textbooks. Longitudinal catalogue studies We can explore how research methods emerged as a separate course by performing a longitudinal analysis of selected course catalogues. We limited the scope of our longitudinal analysis to the curricular offerings by institutions actively represented at the Michigan Conference in 1960. The conference directors, Wilbert McKeachie and John Milholland (University of Michigan); William Hunt (Northwestern University); and Robert Leeper (The University of Oregon) were full-time participants from doctoral institutions. In addition, Lawrence Cole (Oberlin College) and Wilbert Ray (Bethany College) were full-time participants from liberal arts institutions. We contacted archivists at these institutions and requested copies of the psychology course listings from 1955 to 1970. Once we had these materials we looked for changes in the curriculum. We expected that there would be considerable change in the course offerings related to research methods at these schools. In particular, we anticipated a move from experimental psychology courses to research methods courses.

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods


The University of Michigan had elementary experimental and statistics courses in place in 1955. They introduced an honours course in research methods in 1960. In 1961, they removed the elementary statistics course and apparently replaced it with an upper division statistics course. In 1962, the elementary experimental course was removed and replaced, apparently, by upper division courses with laboratories (comparative, physiological, language, perception and motivation). This approach resembles Model 3 recommended by the McKeachie and Milholland Report (1961) (require statistics and infuse methods). The University of Oregon had an upper division course in research methods in psychology in 1955. They added a statistics course in 1957. One year later, the research methods course was eliminated and in 1964 several new lower division courses in content areas such as perception, motivation and social psychology were added, each with a laboratory. In 1968, an introduction to experimental psychology was added as an honours course. This approach resembles Model 3 recommended by the 1961 Report (require statistics and infuse methods). In 1955, Oberlin College already had courses in introductory experimental psychology and advanced experimental psychology. In 1961, they introduced a new course in design and analysis in behaviour research. By 1968, the research course was required for their experimental course. In 1970, a new course in research designs and psychometric analysis was introduced and replaced the design and analysis course. This approach resembles Model 2 recommended by the 1961 Report (separate courses). Between 1956 and 1957 Bethany College revised its psychology curriculum by dropping statistical methods and substituting a requirement for Math 101/102. Other methodology requirements included experimental psychology and tests, and measurements. Another change appeared in the 1963–1964 catalogue in which experimental psychology became a lecture (one hour) and laboratory (two hour) course and the content area courses (cognition and perception, and learning) also changed from a lecture only to lecture/laboratory format. In the same period, the department added a Junior Honors Seminar. This approach resembles Model 2 recommended by the 1961 Report (separate courses) and there is a strong emphasis on laboratory experiences. It appears that the Michigan, Oberlin and Bethany developments correspond more closely to our expectations than that of Oregon. Michigan moved from the standard experimental course to a research methods course (albeit an honours one) in a series of steps between 1955 and 1960. Oberlin offered a new course in research methods in 1961, even though the instructor did not recall a connection to the conference and called it a coincidence (personal communication with Norman Henderson). Bethany revised their curriculum and emphasized laboratory experience. In contrast, Oregon had a research methods course in place in 1955 and removed it in 1958, so that is not quite the same pattern. More generally, it is obvious that all four schools experimented with this part of their curriculum quite a bit during this period, even though the exact changes differed from school to school, as might be expected given the variety of models offered by the 1961 Report.


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

The Michigan Report was available to academic psychologists at institutions which were not represented at the Michigan Conference. A case in point is Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno), home institution of Holder et al. (1958), whose Report recommended curricular changes to better prepare their students for graduate school. When we examined the course listings from 1955 to 1970, we noted a change to emphasize preparation for graduate school between the 1957 and 1958 catalogues. The 1964 catalogue introduced new requirements for Behaviour Research I and II explicitly defined as a ‘research methodology course’ with the prerequisite of elementary statistics. In 1969, a single research design and methods course presenting research design, statistics and philosophy of science and also featuring student participation in research and report writing replaced the two methods courses. This approach resembles Model 2 recommended by the 1961 Report (separate courses), a curriculum familiar to the first author, who was an undergraduate there. Research methods textbooks The first of the new genre of research methods textbooks may be Frank McGuigan’s (1960) text: Experimental Psychology: A Methodological Approach. In an obituary of McGuigan, Merrill (2000) wrote that McGuigan’s volume: was one of the first psychology textbooks in which specific details of the scientific methodology were stated clearly and concisely. Prior to the publication of this book, psychology had been defined in textbooks as content oriented, whereas McGuigan intentionally changed to a methodological definition (Merrill, 2000, 677).

Both the PsycINFO abstract and the preface for the 1960 textbook echo this sentiment. In his preface, McGuigan states: the present trend is to define experimental psychology not in terms of specific content areas, but rather as a study of scientific methodology generally, and of the methods of experimentation in particular. There is considerable evidence that this trend is gaining ground rapidly. This book has been written to meet this trend (McGuigan, 1960, iii).

McGuigan added that: the point of departure for this book is the relatively new conception of experimental psychology in terms of methodology, a conception which represents the bringing together of three somewhat distinct aspects of science: experimental methodology, statistics, and philosophy of science (ibid.).

In addition, we examined the prefaces and tables of contents for other textbooks first published from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. Postman and Egan (1949)

Historical Trends in Teaching Research Methods


presented a traditional experimental text that emphasized content (for example, psychophysics, conditioning, memory and transfer of training) over methods (see the evolution of experimental psychology, December 1999). In the preface, Postman and Egan note that: Experimental methods and laboratory procedures cannot, of course, be divorced from psychological facts and principles. Our goal was, therefore, to give a survey of the main empirical findings and functional relationships in selected areas of experimental psychology with special emphasis on the control, manipulation, and measurement of variables (Postman and Egan, 1949, xiii).

In contrast, by the late 1960s, most textbooks were entirely devoted to research methods as opposed to specific content (for example, Plutchik, 1968). Virtually all the new genre expressed the thematic trinity, a trend still present in contemporary research methods textbooks for undergraduates. Summary and Conclusions We conclude by discussing recent trends, suggesting new research and considering to what extent our analysis applies to other social sciences. We have noted two trends in teaching research methods in recent years, not discussed earlier in the main body of this chapter. First, both textbooks for research methods and classroom instruction now emphasize research ethics in addition to the thematic trinity of statistics, research methods and philosophy of science. Nowadays, these topics represent the four pillars of contemporary research methods in psychology. Chapter 8 of the present volume (by Donna McAuliffe) supports the importance of research ethics to the contemporary teaching of research methods. Second, another recent trend is for psychology departments to implement year long courses that replace the former sequence of separate statistics and research methods courses. In some sense, this approach is a variation of the second model articulated by the 1961 Michigan Report. We believe the integrated approach has benefited from the development of a new genre of textbooks and become more visible simply because some departments have long employed this integrated approach. Schweigert (1994) authored the first explicitly integrated approach textbook; however, others such as Gary Heiman (1998) and Sherri Jackson (2003) have also published textbooks in this genre. We believe that there are opportunities for further research regarding the history of teaching research methods. For example, the Jackson et al. (2001) paper is an excellent starting point for a longitudinal analysis of multi-edition research methods textbooks by authors such as McGuigan (1960) and others. There is merit in exploring what undergraduates could and should know about less traditional methods, including methods for historical research and qualitative research. Our impression is that psychology students learn relatively little about other research techniques such as these, although instruction regarding qualitative research


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

is more common in other social sciences (see Chapter 1 by Judith Preissle and Kathryn Roulston; and also Claire Wagner and Chinedu Okeke, Chapter 5). A question that needs to be addressed is why psychology and other social sciences in the United States explicitly teach undergraduates about the philosophy and methods of science when the so-called hard sciences do not do so. In biology, chemistry and physics, research methods are commonly infused throughout the curriculum through a series of laboratory experiences attached to various courses. In contrast, sociology and political science ordinarily teach research methods in one or more free-standing courses. Psychological instruction in methodology is a hybrid of the natural and social sciences; psychologists prefer the stand-alone courses often taught in the social sciences but initially modelled the course after the natural sciences (that is, experimental psychology). The shift from experimental psychology to research methods courses thus represents a move toward psychology’s social science siblings and away from its natural science ones. Our concern is to what extent our depiction of the emergence of research methods in psychology constitutes a general model for curricular change in other social sciences. This is important, as it touches on the contentious issue of the extent to which various social science disciplines take, or perhaps should take, different approaches to the teaching of research methods. Does the contention that there is a form of research methods generic to all social sciences result from historical circumstances, insofar as other disciplines simply adopted the psychology model? It would be instructive to address this and related questions, although there appears to have been no research in the area so far. In summary, we have extended the efforts of earlier scholars (Brewer, 1997; Perlman and McCann, 1999) in our examination of how teaching research methods has evolved within the psychology curriculum in the United States. We regard our chapter as distinct from earlier contributions in two ways. First, we have focused on the history of teaching research methods whereas earlier studies have looked at the entire psychology curriculum. Second, we have attempted to answer the question of how the research methods course has become a common requirement in the curriculum. Longitudinal studies indicate that key academic institutions appeared to play a significant role in the evolution of the research methods course. We suggest that similar longitudinal analyses may be useful in better understanding the history of other features of the psychology curriculum. Acknowledgements We thank archivists Alan Boyd (Oberlin College); R. Jeanne Cobb (Bethany College); Jean Coffee (California State University, Fresno); Christopher Cox (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire); Glenda Insua (University of Michigan); and Bruce Tabb (University of Oregon) for providing copies their college catalogues. We also thank Nancy Minahan for thoughtful comments that helped us prepare the final version of this chapter.

Part II Approaches to the Curriculum

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Chapter 3

The Role of Theory in Research Barbara Kawulich

Introduction One of the challenges facing the teacher of research methods is that students sometimes find it difficult to understand the role that theory plays in developing and conducting research. This was a problem for me in my own experience as a graduate student in the 1980s and early 1990s. The research courses I was required to take in my master’s and doctoral programmes of study were courses on statistics. In those courses, research theory was rarely discussed and, when it was, it was presented in terms of positivism. I believe this may have been the approach in many universities and, as a consequence, today’s methods teachers may lack a broader perspective on the relationship between theory and research; or, like me, they may have had to do a large amount of self-directed searching. I believe that a sound understanding of the relation of theory to research practice is fundamental to research methods education. In this chapter, I will share some of the issues about theory that I have found to be important in teaching research methods. What is Theory? Kurtines and Silverman (1999) define theory as an explanatory statement used to help explain and understand relations among variables, how they operate and the processes involved. The importance of theory lies in its ability to assist the researcher to identify and organize the connections among various phenomena that may seem unrelated. Researchers need a particular theoretical perspective from the outset to help them answer ‘why’ questions and to explain various cases or units of analysis in certain situations; theories determine the relationship between concepts that are carefully defined, ways to measure those concepts and what influences them (McTavish and Loether, 2002). Without theory, students tend to come up with questions that are not thought through for a particular setting and are, therefore, not meaningful for the members of that context. Their methods may not be appropriate for the situation and their results may be hard to justify, if not unfounded. Theory should drive the research process from beginning to end, providing a framework for action and for understanding. In discussions in the literature, the term theory is used in three ways. First, it is used to reflect specifically explicated theories that make up paradigms, such


Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences

as identity theory or social construction theory used in symbolic interactionism. Second, it is portrayed more implicitly in a body of literature that provides a framework for understanding of a subject, such as the literature available on the topic of reading comprehension. Third, theory is used implicitly to describe the researcher’s assumptions and beliefs about the topic under study, as in sharing one’s theoretical perspective on a topic. While using specifically explicated theories is preferable, those who teach RM will have to consider the time available to devote to teaching about theory and the level of students they teach – that is, whether they are teaching undergraduate or graduate students. However one defines theory in his or her research, that definition should be described in detail and justified in the writing to explain to the reader how it has directed and/or influenced the design and implementation of the study and how it affected the analysis and interpretation of the data. Notions related to theory in social scientific research are paradigm, concept, construct and proposition. Not surprisingly, students sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between them all and to understand their relationship to one another. What is the distinction between a paradigm and a theory and why is it important to our understanding of theory? Babbie (2001) distinguishes between paradigms and theories, defining the former as general frameworks or viewpoints and the latter as sets of interrelated statements that are used to explain some aspect of social life. These theories flesh out the paradigms, offering an explanation for what we observe, while the paradigms offer a way of looking (see Maree, Chapter 4; and Wagner and Okeke, Chapter 5). Silver (1983) views theory somewhat differently: she views it as a way to perceive reality or a means for expressing one’s perception of the world. It enables the reader to enter into the researcher’s world to understand reality as he or she does. While Babbie defines paradigms and theories as separate but related concepts, Silver’s definition of theory incorporates the two conceptual definitions. Anfara and Mertz (2006) provide an excellent example of the relationship between paradigms, theories, concepts, constructs and propositions, using Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs. As a tool for understanding human motivation, Maslow describes various needs that must be met, some of which are more fundamental and necessary than others. In this example, the needs themselves are viewed as the concepts, the levels of needs are illustrated as constructs and these needs are arranged hierarchically (propositions). Maslow showed how lower order needs must be fulfilled before higher order needs; therefore, he concluded, one is motivated to fulfil those more basic needs (theory). Thus, a combination of the definitions of the terms (paradigms, theory, propositions, constructs and concepts) by Babbie, Silver, and Anfara and Mertz, may elucidate for students how concepts are related to constructs, which are arranged according to propositions, which make up theories, which flesh out paradigms (see Figure 3.1).

The Role of Theory in Research


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Figure 3.1

The relationship of concepts to constructs to propositions to theories to paradigms

What is the Relationship of Theory to Practice? In his discussion of theory driven research, Willer (1992) states that the way theory is structured determines how the research proceeds. He argues the value of viewing theory driven research as empirical research (which students often think of as meaning ‘experimental’ or ‘quantitative’), whether quantitative or qualitative. As noted previously, this theoretical frame may be either tacit/implicit or overt/explicit. Tacit or implicit theory might be described as what you think is going on in the study, while overt or explicit theory would be the specific theoretical framework that assists in the identification of important concepts, operational definitions, development of research questions and interpretation of the data. Theory drives our actions in daily life and in research, whether or not we are aware of that theoretical frame. One’s philosophical and theoretical perspectives, both tacit and overt, drive one’s approach to research (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993). It is important for students to learn that this applies to any published research literature; they must also be aware of the theoretical frame they bring to their own research. Every discipline has its own implicit theoretical framework(s) based on the vocabulary, concepts and explicit theories used in that discipline; these theories determine the types of things that are of interest and the types of questions one asks (Merriam, 1998). In teaching action research to classroom teachers, where the emphasis for me is to teach them techniques that enable them to improve their practice, I do not enter into a specific discussion of explicit theories. I require them, however, to share the implicit theory and related assumptions about the topic under study and to seek out literature on their topic to inform and underpin their study. In this way, their tacit theoretical frameworks become apparent to them and aid them to put aside their personal orientations to view the data neutrally. The works of others, found in the literature review on the topic under study, further provide them with a theoretical framework for developing and understanding their research. The literature provides a basis for understanding, a basis for identifying gaps in the literature and a basis for making a comparison between one’s research findings and the existing literature.

Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences


McTavish and Loether (2002) also point out the value of the literature review as a means for understanding how prior theory has affected others’ work, what concepts are important to the topic under study, how others define various concepts, and what questions other researchers deem to be important. Theories are used to guide research design and to let us know when the research is complete; McTavish and Loether contend that theory is critical for identifying concepts and the situations in which these concepts may undergo change. Many instructors require students to set aside a separate chapter for the literature review as a means to ‘structure the inquiry, identify gaps in the literature, outline principal theoretical lines of thought, and generate potential research possibilities’ (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000, 41). However, Clandinin and Connelly suggest that the literature may be interwoven throughout the final research product in a less formal way than having a separate literature review chapter. One cannot properly implement a study without a guiding theory. As LeCompte and Preissle state: research designs are improved radically – in applicability and generalizability, in credibility and validity, and in precision and reliability – by explicit attention to the influence of theory throughout the design and implementation process (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993, 137).

Quantitative studies that do not include general theory, particularly those oriented toward causal analysis, may leave the researcher unable to explain why some variables affect other variables (Mahoney, 2004). Sherraden (2000) suggests that theory provides an integral basis for knowledge building in applied social research and in basic research alike. An exception to this is the use of grounded theory approaches, which are used to generate theory by grounding the findings in the data, rather than from a particular theoretical perspective. Grounded theory also may be used to test theory or to further develop it. The pervading role of theory is summarized in Figure 3.2. This figure illustrates that theory is important to all aspects of research. Theory directs the types of questions asked and determines which potential participants can best inform one’s study. For example, in her study of HIV-positive adults’ meaning making, viewed through transformational learning theory, Merriam (2006) illustrates how sample selection was guided by her research question, which was derived from her theoretical framework.

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