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Student-Centered Approach in Teaching Qualitative Research Methods and Its Challenges in Post-Soviet Educational Culture

Theses for Roundtable at ASEEES Annual Convention (2023) "Building a Free University in the Post-Soviet Space: Challenges and Opportunities"

Published onDec 12, 2023
Student-Centered Approach in Teaching Qualitative Research Methods and Its Challenges in Post-Soviet Educational Culture

Free University

In my presentation, I aim to discuss the challenges of teaching qualitative research methods to students with experience in Post-Soviet education. Given the inherently empirical nature of qualitative methods, mere theoretical apprehension proves inadequate; practical application becomes imperative. Consequently, I strive to implement a more student-centered approach in my classes rather than the traditional teacher-centered approach that is better known to most of my students.

My goal is to train independent researchers, emphasizing active student involvement in the learning process. I perceive myself as a facilitator or guide rather than the primary source of knowledge. I employ tools such as the flipped classroom method (beginning with text discussions rather than lectures), chat, and boards for questions about texts, as well as tracking individual research, to foster collaboration among students and engage them more actively in discussions. I also provide rich feedback instead of grades.

I have observed that this approach helps students overcome their fear of making “mistakes” or appearing “stupid,” which is unfortunately prevalent. Nevertheless, implementing this approach has not been easy. Many students, regardless of their educational background, have a substantial gap in understanding various methods, or their knowledge remains purely theoretical. Transitioning from a theoretical approach or non-reflective “writing about” a topic to a more practical one requires considerable effort and practice.

The second significant challenge I identify is connecting empirical research with theoretical analysis and interpretation, an area where my class falls short. While I can assist students in learning how to plan a research project and collect high-quality data, the transition from data to theory proves to be the most difficult. To address this, I conduct coding sessions where we collectively work with raw data to begin building a theoretical framework for analysis. While effective, this brief exploration into analytical data interpretation is not sufficient.

In my view, the next steps needed to enhance the course and facilitate the teaching of a new generation of independent researchers include several team projects to encourage collaboration, offline working sessions specifically focused on coding, data interpretation, and analysis, and collaboration with more experienced researchers specializing in fields relevant to the students’ research projects.

DOI: 10.55167/3da0bd3734b2

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