Explorations in Teaching the Phenomenological Method: Challenging Psychology Students to “Grasp at Meaning” in Human Science Research


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Abstract

To fulfill our collective calling to understand and to heal human persons, psychologists need to be taught ways of listening, observing, and knowing others that respect and preserve the richness of human experience as it is lived. This article serves to introduce current and future researchers of the human condition to a perspective that values what is meaningful in human life. The article has two specific aims: (a) to present pedagogical strategies for the teaching of phenomenological method to psychology students, and (b) to present an introduction to the methodology of phenomenological research. What are we actually doing when attempting to conduct this kind of “scientific” research? More importantly, how do we teach others to do what it has taken our whole career to learn? The history of the development of phenomenological method in psychology is traced from its roots at Duquesne in the early 1970s to its further implementation at the University of Dallas over the past 45 years. The “workshop” approach to teaching qualitative inquiry is explored, along with the phenomenological and hermeneutic principles underlying the analysis of verbal self-report data. Formulating a research question, distinguishing the research phenomenon from the situation interrogated, engaging in direct “intuitive contact” with the phenomenon, reflexivity with respect to one’s biases and presuppositions, the carrying-out of intentional analyses, and “deep listening” to the testimonies of others will be presented and illustrated with examples taken from research workshops.

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