Conference Report: Teaching Against the Grain: The Challenges of Teaching Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences. A National Workshop on Teaching Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences

Joan M. Eakin, Eric Mykhalovskiy


This essay reflects on the proceedings of an invitational workshop on the nature and challenges of teaching qualitative research (QR) in health science settings. The context of this workshop is the increasing interest in QR in the health sciences and the inadequacy of pedagogy and institutional support for QR. We argue that there are special problems associated with teaching in an environment that embraces numerically based forms of knowledge and marginalizes unconventional research. Changes in the health research environment (e.g. applied research funding) and in the university environment (e.g. faster and briefer training) do not mesh easily with core premises of QR and can have a homogenizing, "dumbing down" effect on teaching. Teaching across wide disciplinary and professional divides, and among students with little or no social theory, can promote teaching QR as procedure, and at the lowest common denominator. Teachers must deal with the disruptive effects on students and other faculty of the critical dimensions of QR, and manage the structural constraints and political demands of thesis supervision. Despite the challenges of teaching "against the grain," the rewards and promise of teaching qualitative research in such environments remain, and we call for further discussion and leadership in this area.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502427


teaching; health sciences; structural constraints; disruptive effects

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Copyright (c) 2005 Joan M. Eakin, Eric Mykhalovskiy

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