A Changing Culture? Qualitative Methods Teaching in U.K. Psychology

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Abstract

This paper surveys the landscape of qualitative methods teaching in U.K. psychology. First, we provide an overview of the administrative framework for this teaching and highlight the positive development that is the stipulation by key national bodies that undergraduate psychology programs should teach qualitative methods. Second, we discuss an attempt to meet the needs for training and resources that resulted from these stipulations and note how recent changes in the higher education funding landscape have made it more difficult to meet these needs. Third, we review literature on the teaching of qualitative methods in U.K. psychology departments and note the relative paucity of studies addressing this issue. In conclusion, we suggest that the key issue remains the stubbornness of the “quantitative culture” in many departments. The official bureaucratic infrastructure of U.K. psychology teaching may now mandate that qualitative methods be taught, but the tentative conclusions that can be drawn from what literature there is suggest that this obscures various practices at the departmental level, with many programs still providing little more than tokenistic engagement with qualitative methods.

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