The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Education under the spotlight

Ask most Quallies: How did you learn to do this job? and you would expect ‘learning by doing’ and the experience of ‘being thrown in at the deep end’ to feature fairly highly in their answers.

From many you will also hear about the AQR’s foundation courses. The feedback from delegates on these courses suggests that they set the standard for excellence and inspiration.

It can be easy to rest on your laurels, but we are about to undertake an examination of what we provide in education and how we can develop it.

In particular, there are two areas of focus: one is for greater sharing of underlying beliefs as well as knowledge and techniques among the tutors who make such impressive contributions to our foundation courses; the other is to renew our efforts to run education events that enrich the thinking of experienced researchers.

As a first step, we are organising a ‘Knowledge Sharing Session’. We’re inviting tutors on AQR’s regular junior training courses along to share with the Education Sub-Committee their techniques and ideas, and thanks go to Spectrum who have volunteered their offices for this meeting.

The challenge for the future will be to decide on an agreed AQR ‘voice’ that is consistent and coherent across both the content and process of all foundation courses.

The experience with senior members is that those who have attended events in the past year, such as the Excellence presentations and workshops and the AQR/QRCA seminars, have come away with great enthusiasm and a demand for ‘more like this’.

We know, though, that both cost and time is at a premium and that experienced researchers typically have so many plates spinning at any one time that our events can be put into a ‘nice but not essential’ category. A possible way around this is to design a programme of events that we can publicise well in advance. The other is to have shorter events.

We know that much of the value for experienced researchers is in the opportunity to have informal conversations with each other about the status and practice of qualitative research: an active, provocative forum as opposed to a course.

One idea we are working on is for a programme of ‘think pieces’ where invited speakers can spark a debate about a research issue and then a lively debate can follow. Watch this space.


Geoff Bayley
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2008