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  • 00:17

    I really enjoy learning about all different sortsof research methods, even though my focusis on qualitative research.It's important to learn about research methods,because I think oftentimes it canstrengthen your conviction in the method that you've chosen.It can also demonstrate to you how research methods arevery interconnected, often, and give you some exposures

  • 00:39

    to some different approaches.I really enjoy teaching research methods because now,I've learned a lot more about different approachesto research and taken on some new practiceswithin my own research.I teach one of the same classes, Intro to Qualitative Research,every semester.Sometimes I've taught it twice in a semester.

  • 00:60

    I usually teach it in the summer,and I have read some of the piecesthat I use in that class, such as Fred Erickson'spiece on qualitative research and teaching.I probably read it over 30 times,and I first read it when I was in graduate schooland learning about qualitative research methods.And I always find something new in it.And so I think that sometimes people think, OK, well, I'll

  • 01:22

    just read this text on qualitative research,or take this one class, and then I can check off the box that Ihave my methodology down.And for me, those classic pieces like Geertz's Thick Descriptionand the Erickson piece that I just mentioned.I'm always getting something new and finding a new wayto use them.I think, also, because our research interestsare very dynamic, that it's important for us

  • 01:44

    to keep learning about new approachesas the field is changing.I've had students in my classes whohave come in and been much more quantitatively aligned,but had to take qualitative researchclasses as a requirement, and they've actually convertedand said, I think this might be a better approach for meto use for studying my research interest.So that's why I think it's really exciting,

  • 02:04

    it's interesting.For me, what I also love about teaching qualitative researchis I get to learn about all sorts of different topicsand discipline.The courses that I teach draw from peopleall over the College of Education.So for me, I've learned about different theoreticalframeworks that can be applied within my own research studies.

  • 02:31

    Learning about qualitative researchto a student and an early career researcheris extremely, extremely important.Again, I think sometimes people think they can read one textand then check it off.But really, the best way to learnhow to do qualitative research is to do qualitative researchand actually to take as many courses

  • 02:52

    as you can to try out some different methods, to dopractice studies.In my graduate program at Universityof California Berkeley, almost every classhad a study or a mini study componentthat we needed to complete as part of the class.And I think this was really integralin me being able to make mistakes in a safe setting,

  • 03:12

    and to try out different things to get hands-on experiences.It was really, really integral in terms of melearning to make mistakes, but in a safe spacewhere then I had the support of my professors.So I think it's really important for studentsto take those courses so that they can have that practice.And unfortunately, in some programs,

  • 03:33

    I don't know that they get as muchof that practice and that hands-on experienceas they need.They come into the class thinking,oh, qualitative research is really simple.I'll just do a few interviews.They don't see it as a rigorous form of research.And so they come in, and then they realize, wow,this really involves a lot of systematic inquiryand rigorous methods, and that it's richly empirical.

  • 03:57

    And so, I think for them, it gives thema greater appreciation of all thatgoes into a qualitative research projectand then prepares them for what they're going to doin their dissertation research.So that's very important.I usually recommend that my studentstake at least two advanced classes in additionto an introductory class, in orderto really try out different approaches and methods.

  • 04:25

    I was the director of a family literacy program in Chicagothat was serving the needs of predominantly female headsof households in a predominantly Latino and Puerto Ricanneighborhood of Humboldt Park.And I was really inspired by their enthusiasm,their dedication, their sense of humor, the ways

  • 04:47

    that they were facing many challenges at such a young age.And I actually felt like the family literacy model thatwas currently in the field was not appropriately buildingon some of their strengths, and that itdid have very much a deficit orientationtowards the programs in terms of,oh, you come into this program and you get some skillsand then you're going to be better parents.Rather than building on what they were already doing.

  • 05:09

    And so for me, I was interested in learning more about howI might contribute in a greater way to policy,and also learning about how I might learn more about howto tell their stories.And so, I first entered a graduate programat the University of California Berkeley,in language, literacy, and culture.

  • 05:29

    I was studying to be a reading specialist.And within one semester, I had caught the qualitative researchbug and decided to continue on with my Ph.D.And working with people like Anne Haas Dyson,just an expert ethnographer in the field of literacy studiesreally gave me an appreciation for how research

  • 05:50

    could be used to tell rich stories of participantsin the program.So I returned, then, to conduct my dissertation researchat the family literacy program.And so that is really where I developed an interestin becoming a researcher.As far as doing community-based qualitative research that

  • 06:11

    really came from me being inspired by, again,my experiences in the community, and wantingto find a way-- Previously, I hadbeen involved in projects as a graduate studentwhere, at the end of the project,I had to leave and go off and finish up and tidy upthe project, and then leave and start a new project.And so I had had an existing relationshipwith this organization.It was a grassroots, community-based organization,

  • 06:34

    and I returned there to do my dissertation research.And so, engaging in community-based qualitativeresearch was a way for me to maintaina consistent and sustained research relationship.And so that was what drew me to doingcommunity-based qualitative research.

  • 06:58

    Community-based qualitative researchis a method that is rooted in collaborative relationshipswith community members around research.So, it involves working with a community partnerto develop a research project that is participatory,and that can work on addressing certain sorts of community

  • 07:20

    concerns and issues, and maybe developingsome solutions for those community concerns and issues.It often involves students working as part of teamswith maybe a professor in a community setting,but there's lots of sole researcherswho also work-- like myself-- whostart in a community-based organizationand really want the research to be able to loop back

  • 07:42

    into developing some sort of programand transforming conditions.And also want to work collaboratively,so that their research questions aren't coming from the outsidein or the top down, but really coming from participantsin terms of the kinds of issues and questionsthat are important to their lives,so that they can also develop research skills to continueresearching and addressing some of those issues.

  • 08:06

    Also, I think, in terms of thinkingabout qualitative research and whyI was interested in qualitative research in the first place,is some of those questions when you'reworking with participants.When I was working with the young womenthat I worked with, there was oftenlots of nagging, tugging questions where I thought,OK, they have all these great experiences.Why aren't these being built on appropriately

  • 08:27

    within research models and research designs?Why is the policy not being informedby all this wonderful research about howwe can build on strengths of participants,in order to help them achieve their educational goals?And so, I also instruct students that it'sthose kind of nagging, tugging questionsthat often form a really nice basis for their researchprojects.

  • 08:47

    And those can form the basis of community-based qualitativeresearch projects as well.Community-based qualitative researchis especially needed now because even though, I think,there has been this appreciation within qualitative researchthat we need more emic and insider

  • 09:08

    perspectives, a lot of the research that currentlyexists-- and there's been some examples recentlythat have come out that have been very much critiques--really come from this deficit-oriented perspective.That they use measures that aren'tappropriate for the community.And so they can come in with their survey that says,OK, this is how we're going to measurea community or civic engagement--and a lot of my work is in communityand civic engagement-- and those measures really focus

  • 09:29

    on narrow definitions of community engagement,like voting or how many times theyattend this particular after-school program,and that might not be relevant to what people in the communityare doing.And so, community-based qualitative researchis really, really powerful in that you'retaking the community knowledge in order to build and designresearch instruments so that you can most appropriately design

  • 09:52

    and measure, or tell the stories of, the community.And so I think, in a lot of other research models,when the qualitative researcher'sdeciding a priori what is important,they really miss the mark.They come out saying, OK, I didn't reallyfind very much, because they didn't ask the right questions.They weren't looking in the right place.They hadn't built appropriate relationshipswith community members of trust, which

  • 10:14

    I think, in a community-based researchproject, qualitative research project,those relationships of trust are built into the project.You spend quite a bit of time with-- Ido, at least-- with students, orienting themtowards the community, helping them understand the community,and learning to listen and be humble and be whatI call observant participants rather than participant

  • 10:34

    observers.So they are really, really deeplyparticipating in this setting as they're doing research.I also think that the pedagogical aspectof community-based qualitative researchis really quite a strength, in that it's also about teachingothers about research methods.And so, I think, in a lot of qualitative research,what we have are experts.

  • 10:55

    And certainly the academic researchersthat would be part of a community-based qualitativeresearch project would have a certain amount of expertise,definitely.But it's not about, I'm just goingto hold on to that expertise and not share it with you.And so, similarly, the community membershave a lot of expertise about what'simportant in their communities, about what sorts of knowledgeand practices are meaningful for them, about the issues

  • 11:17

    that they feel are important to be addressed.And so the pedagogical aspect is really bi-directional,where community members are sharingtheir expertise, their experiences,with academic researchers, and academic researchersare teaching community members about important research skillsthat then they can use to investigate those problems.So for me, that's a major strength.

  • 11:37

    I also think that the critical aspect--many community-based qualitative research projectsare inherently critical in terms of,the goal is to really challenge status quoways of viewing communities or practices,and trying to transform conditions, rather than just--and I have done a lot of qualitative research projects

  • 11:58

    where we say, oh, it's just descriptive.We're going to look at it, and we'regoing to describe an issue.Or, we're going to learn more, we'regoing to get more nuanced understandingsof this particular group.And that's great, but for me, my researchhas moved into a direction where I said, well, that's wonderful,but I'd actually like to work also on creating some programsand maybe changing conditions.

  • 12:18

    So, a lot of my previous work reallylooked at some of the issues and challengesthat young mothers face, and thatwas wonderful to know more about themand to be able to give their voices a placewithin the scholarship, and have them tell their own stories wasreally wonderful.But now, I've worked much more towards,no, now I'm going to work with themand they're going to do research themselves and then

  • 12:39

    maybe become advocates for increasedprograms for young mothers in schools,or create their own programming, or createan ad campaign that challenges stereotypes of young mothers.And for me, that's really, really powerful,because then it's also giving themthose tools that they need to address those problems,but then it's also challenging some

  • 12:59

    of the negative views of them and creating something thatcan be sustained after the research project has officiallyended.There are many key challenges in community-based qualitativeresearch, and one of them is really

  • 13:20

    ensuring that you have that authentic input.It would be-- and this can happenthat-- if the model is premised on collaborative workand participatory work and building reciprocal researchrelationships with participants, itwould be detrimental to the projectnot to continue that throughout.

  • 13:41

    And I think even the most well-intentioned academicresearchers are very used to being the experts,and they are very used to being in control.And so, maintaining that authentic inputat all stages of the process is really, reallyof the utmost importance in a community-based qualitativeresearch project.To make sure that you're evaluating throughout,that that input is continuing to take place,

  • 14:02

    that you're checking in, that you'reusing research meetings to really buildconsensus and build knowledge of one another.And I think it really takes some trust in orderto build those relationships, and that takes time.And so that is challenging.I think in so many research projects,and with limited funding and limited time,we don't have the luxury, maybe, of building

  • 14:23

    the kinds of relationships that areneeded in a community-based qualitative research project.So in the research projects I do, I'm always checking in,and really I view it as a shared leadership role.But I think, for some people, that's hard.And so they might say, well, I asked themwhat they wanted to study, but then theycontinue to take the reins, and to bein control of the project.

  • 14:43

    So that's very important.Communication can be really difficultin a community-based qualitative research project,because if you are-- Sometimes working in teamscan-- you end up with a stronger product,but it can be more challenging along the wayin order to get stuff done, because youare having to build consensus and communicateabout what the next steps are and get feedback.

  • 15:05

    And so, one of the challenges that I'vehad in working with the community-based organizationsthat I work with, even though I havestrong relationships with them thathave been built over many years, isthat continued communication.And so, most of the community-based organizations,the grassroots ones especially, they're very overwhelmed.They have lots on their plate, and so maintaining

  • 15:27

    that communication, I usually recommendthat you designate one person to be responsiblefor the communication, for sending e-mails,for following up on e-mails.You need to be very patient and gracious.I work with a lot of students, and they get frustrated."They didn't e-mail me back right away!"And I said, well they are doing maybe five million things,and this might not be at the top of their list.It also might mean, if you're having difficulties

  • 15:51

    communicating with participants, that maybe this isn'ta high priority for them and that-- going back to my earlierpoint about authentic input-- that this isn't somethingthat they value.And so maybe you need to reassessthe project in that way, to make surethat this is a project that they see as importantand that there's buy-in.And so that is really important.Another challenge is in working with students.

  • 16:12

    I've had a challenge in, the perspectivesof student researchers coming, or any researcher.So I usually work before doing a projectto make sure that students' perspectives are well-alignedwith this kind of research.And so, I offer this class and sometimes studentssay, OK, cool, it'll be great to go to Chicagoand do a research project.And so, when they hear community-based research,

  • 16:32

    oftentimes they think they're goingto be helping the community in this very kindof missionary and paternalistic sort of way.Or they see themselves as going into a downtrodden communityin order to tutor kids.And I've had students saying that, at the beginning.And so, I usually ask students in orderto address that challenge before the project starts.I have them do a reflective writing assignment

  • 16:52

    to think about what their goals are, and alsowhat their stereotypes are of the community.And at first they might say, I don't have any.I don't know anything about this community.I don't know anything about Humboldt Park,which has often, in the media, beenassociated with gang violence.And they say they don't have any preconceptions,but then, once we sit down and talk about it,they might have some preconceptions about safety,

  • 17:13

    or they think, what sorts of experiencesare we going to have in this community?And I really, really want to address thatbefore the project, because, whenyou've been working with a communityand you bring in other researchers,it would be really detrimental to the projectto have someone come in and view the community reallyin a deficit-oriented way, or notview it as a place where they're going to gain knowledge too.

  • 17:35

    So, for me, it's important at the outset of the projectto have those discussions, and to make surethat people are well-aligned with this sort of approach.I've also had students sometimes coming in saying, OK,we're going to fix things.And that's the point of the projectand yes, you would hope that your project would developand create some programs that could address some issues

  • 17:56

    and problems, and there certainlyare problems in the community that the partners wouldwant you to address.But the goal of the project at the outset,or the mindset of the researchers,shouldn't be, I'm here to fix everything.Rather, I'm here to learn with and from community members,so that we can develop some collaborative sortsof approaches towards addressing problems.

  • 18:18

    And so I had some nurses one time who came in,and they said, well, we need to do a needs assessmentso that we can figure out how to fix the healthdisparities here, and so how to address the diabetes program.And there is actually lots of that already going on,and so I encourage students to be humble and open minded,

  • 18:39

    and just listen for a while first,which again, I think is hard sometimes for researchersto do, and for academics to do, and just sit and observeand take it in and have this discussion sothat you can develop some meaningful projectsand have buy-in.But another challenge is that I think the views of thisis as service rather than research,

  • 18:60

    and I think that that's somethingthat is being addressed in the field,but it's seen as sometimes lacking rigoror overly subjective.I think there's also a lack of funding in that regard.So a lot of the funding now is for larger sorts of big scalequantitative projects, so finding funding.And I think there's more need for interdisciplinary centers

  • 19:21

    that are housed in universities to fund this workand try to merge some of that important servicework with the research element as well.The key thinkers that have inspired mewithin the field of community-based qualitativeresearch include Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator

  • 19:44

    who created the problem-posing pedagogy and laboratorypedagogy.I was first exposed to Paulo Freireas an undergraduate student, whereI studied Latin American Studies and that wasthe focus for my Latin American studies concentrationand thesis.And at that time, I was using it to better understandthe context.I was applying it to the context of Latin American women.

  • 20:05

    And then when I came to work in Chicagofor this grassroots organization called the Puerto RicanCultural Center, their work was very muchfounded on the work of Paulo Freire,and that's actually why they hired me.I didn't know very much about the Puerto Rican communityat that time, but their philosophywas rooted in the teachings of Paulo Freire

  • 20:26

    and he had actually visited the schooland done a conference there.And so, his work on identifying generative themesof individuals' lives and then providing themwith opportunities to reflect on those themes and issuesand then act on them in order to transform the world,I've used them in my teaching at all levels.

  • 20:47

    So I've taught everything from birth to deathin terms of looking at the age.So I've worked with a variety of age ranges,from small children, when I was working at the family literacyprogram, and we had some older students.We had an 80-year-old student who was there at that time too.And I've really used that as the basis of my teaching,and now of my research.

  • 21:08

    So I think it is applied not only to,how do you use that process of identifying generative themesand issues that are important to you,and then finding ways to reflect on themand act on them in teaching, but thenin research, that really is what community-based qualitativeresearch is founded on.And so, when I teach community-based qualitative

  • 21:29

    research classes, that's how we describe the research process.First, working with people to identify important themes,and then finding ways to really act on those.Funds of knowledge theories have been really essential for mein thinking about how to view communities,not just from a deficit but from a strength-based.And so I talked about how it was really important to me, when

  • 21:51

    I first started working at the family literacy program,seeing all the strengths that these young women hadand the ways that they were addressing challenges,and the ways that they were learning to parent in situand through doing.And those weren't really being appropriately addressedwithin the family literacy field.And so, funds of knowledge theories,when I got to college or to my graduate program,and we learned about funds of knowledge theories,I said, oh yes, this is what was bothering me.

  • 22:13

    These were the kind of little questionsthat were tugging at me.So it gave me really a way to articulatesome of those frustrations.And again, throughout then, as I moved into being a researcher,it is also a great way, when I work with students and thinkingabout graduate students, about how to come into a community,really coming from that funds of knowledge perspective.That the community is a rich repository of knowledge

  • 22:35

    and skills that we need to-- thatwe are working with to try to document and alsoshare within the larger research field.When I worked for this program, we would use the communityas a classroom.And the school-- I still work with the schoolas a researcher-- they still do that,and so we're always thinking of the community as a classroom

  • 22:55

    for investigating all sorts of different issues, largersocial issues and the local instantiationsof these larger social issues, as wellas a place where we can conduct researchon a variety of issues.When graduate students come to take my classes,they often say, oh, I'm interested in health.

  • 23:15

    Is there going to be something relatedto health that I can study?Or, I'm interested in housing.Oh, I'm interested in literacy.And so, taking a funds of knowledge approach,all of those issues can be investigated within a communitycontext.And so, we really build the whole projecton looking at the strengths in the community,rather than focusing on what it lacks.

  • 23:37

    I'm also very inspired by Michelle Fine's workusing participatory action research, and especially youthparticipatory action research, and her very criticalperspective towards research and the waythat she works collaboratively with graduate studentsand community-based organizationsto develop approaches that, like I talked about earlier,can really address larger-- Everything that she finds

  • 24:01

    in a community, she connects with larger socialand economic forces and factors, and Ithink that's really important.She also does her writing on-- she has a great piece whereshe writes about how you explain--it's called, "Letter to the Tenure Committee,"and so then, how do you write to a tenure committeeabout the importance of this work and what it means?And so, for me, she's taken always really strong stances

  • 24:25

    within her research about doing participatory action researchand being really critical, and challengingstatus quo sorts of interpretationsof particular topics.So that's been very inspirational for me.Another key theory that's been influential for meis critical race theory and LatCrit especially.

  • 24:46

    The notion of counter storytelling and takingthe stories of community members and their rich experiences,and using those as a way to speak backto some of those pejorative views of communitiesand individuals who live in those communities.

  • 25:07

    A recent piece of research that I just really adoreis Jason Irizarry's book, "The Latinization of US Schools."And what I love about this book ishe really provides an exemplar of howto do participatory action research with youth.And another thing that's really exemplary about his workis that he involved his youth researchpartners at all stages of the process,

  • 25:29

    from design to dissemination.And a lot of times, participatory actionresearchers, their projects are very-- youthand other individuals are very involvedin the design of those projects, but they might notco-author articles with them.They might present at conferences,but it's trickier to publish an academic journal article.And there are different roles that research partners might

  • 25:51

    play at different parts of the process, but Irizarry's book,he really uses youth participatory action researchas an ideology and a methodology.And so for him, it is important to include the students'voices at all stages.So his book, each chapter is coauthoredwith a youth researcher, and it was really about him going in.

  • 26:15

    He taught a class.He had come from being a secondary school teacher,and so taught a class, in additionto his other academic duties.And what really stands out-- and heshares this a lot in conferences--is that when he talked to the students,they basically said they had adopted

  • 26:35

    and really internalized a lot of the negative discoursesabout them.They said, Latinos aren't smart.They're not smart.And here's this Puerto Rican man with a Ph.D. in front of them,and they didn't view him as-- they didn't view themselvesas smart or as being able to get to that level,even though they had a real live role model right here.So he used the class as a way to really unpack and push

  • 26:58

    against this idea of Latino achievement gap,and really, instead of just looking at it from, again,a top down or outside perspective, saying, OK,what does it mean to be Latino/Latinain this educational system?What are people's perspectives of us?And really trying to get at some of the sources and factorsthat are contributing to a lack of educational success

  • 27:19

    for Latinas and Latinos in US schools.And so, they wrote chapters that addressed language issues, thataddressed different kinds of discriminatory practiceswithin schools, that also connected itto these larger social and educational iniquitiesfor Latinos.And so it's really powerful.What I also really love about the bookis he used Puerto Rican proverbs, which

  • 27:41

    are called refranes, as a way of organizing all the chapters,and I used a lot-- I found refraneswere very powerful in my work for a way of describing valuesthat were transmitted from generation to generationrelated to child rearing.And so I used a lot of those in my dissertationwork and some publications.He uses them a way, also, to talk about this speakingback to the research process.

  • 28:01

    And he also, and I think community-based qualitativeresearch and participatory action research,our own autobiographies as researchers and our biographiesare really, really part of what drives usin doing our research.And so, he actually brings in his own cultural experiencesand knowledge.

  • 28:22

    He talks about, these are the proverbsthat my grandmother used with me,and that really provided me with some of the valuesto be who I am today.And so now he's using them as a way to organize and talkabout the research process.I think it's really lovely and just providesthat connection, then, with his own cultural upbringing.

  • 28:45

    Being an ethical researcher is importantin community-based qualitative research.I think oftentimes, researchers think that ethics is justthe purview of the IRB, the Institutional Review Board,and if I do my IRB protocol, I can check offall my ethics boxes.But ethics really means, within community-based qualitative

  • 29:06

    research, of being respectful of community knowledgeand really, really getting community inputat all stages of the project.It means, also, not just using the communityas a source of your own personal or academic gain.And surely you will write some articlesthat will get you some attention,

  • 29:27

    but that you shouldn't just view the community as a laboratoryfor your own research and not really involvecommunity members at all stages of the process.Again, it would be very detrimentalto a community-based qualitative researchproject for a researcher to go in and thennot involve participants in dissemination efforts,and not involve them.I usually take participants to conferences.

  • 29:48

    We present together, we write the proposal together,and for me, that is very much a part of that ethical processof being a researcher.So as far as ethical research, itinvolves also issues of representation,so being careful about the ways that yourepresent participants.Fine and Weis-- again, I'm going to citeMichelle Fine, but Michelle Fine and Weis,they have a great book called "Speed Bumps"

  • 30:09

    that I use a lot with students.They have this great couple pages of questions,and I always have students respondto these towards the end of their projectsin thinking about how you have represented participants.How have you described the mundane rather than just lookfor the salacious or the exotic in terms of how you write up

  • 30:31

    your research is very important.What kinds of dreams you're having about your research,and how that might point you towards howyour own autobiography is intersecting with the research.How are you challenging some of those, again, status quosorts of views of a topic.And they see this as a key part of ethics,

  • 30:51

    and that ethics shouldn't just beabout the pseudonyms and the handling of data,but that it's really about how you represent the community,how you respect the community, and that doesn't meanthat everyone needs to agree.So I'm not saying, by being respectful,that just means being really openminded to other people's perspectives,to their practices, to their beliefs, to their knowledge,

  • 31:12

    and listening.And so that is really very much a part of the ethical process.It also means being vigilant throughout the processthat you're not imposing unequal research relationshipswithin a community-based qualitative project,that there is input at all stages.

  • 31:34

    Because I work with graduate studentsas part of this community-based qualitative research class,I do give a lot of advice at firstabout how to enter the field, and usually oneof the things that I recommend is that, again,that they be an observant participant.So one time I had a student and she was doing researchwithin the community, and she was doing research

  • 31:56

    at a bike shop.And the bike shop was a community-based bike shop thatis about, not just fixing bikes, but teaching peoplehow to fix their bikes, and working,they employ community youth and they have workshops for womenon fixing their bikes.And so she was in there doing whatqualitative researchers often do, is sit in the cornerand taking notes.And someone just looked at her and said,

  • 32:17

    who are you an informant for?And then she realized, maybe next time Ishould go in and bring my bike.And so that so that's what she did.And she actually found that she learned a lot more from beingwhat we called, and then we came upwith the term, observant participant,as a different way of looking at participant observation.

  • 32:37

    So that you participate in settingsand you're just very observant about what is going onin those settings to better understanding people'smeaning making processes, their knowledge,but also to build relationships.And so, the advice that I give my studentsand that I would give any community-based qualitativeresearcher is to spend lots of time observing first.Also, orienting yourself to the community, so I make sure

  • 32:57

    that before students come in, or any outside researcherwould come in who's not familiar with the community,that they have knowledge of the community history.So they have a host of readings that theyneed to do to find out more about the community.I assign them to go on the internet and look at websitesand collect demographics, maybe related to a particular areaof interest.So for example, if a student's really interested in health,

  • 33:19

    I said, OK, go find at least three health organizationsin the community and find out what they do,and maybe talk to people.So we have a lot of those orienting experiencesare essential before you start a project.You wouldn't want to go into a project in a communityand not know anything about the community and someof the struggles that they have gone through.We watch some videos, and so there'squite a bit of orienting experiences

  • 33:40

    that take place as part of that, and Iwould think, as part of a class, it's easy for meas a professor to find materials to share with students,but I would recommend that for any new researcher goinginto a community, that they would need to do that first.I am really, really excited about a lot

  • 34:02

    of the youth-led research that's taking place right now.Work like the Black Youth Project with Cohen,where she's taking her own research--she's out of the University of Chicago--and took her own research with black youthand they're trained in research methods,and they actually run a website and are involvedin all sorts of social media campaigns and leading

  • 34:24

    grassroots community organizing efforts.And they have a blog and a web pageand a feed where they're respondingto issues in the here and now.So it's not, like, oh, we're going to do some researchand then write up a research article,and then maybe it'll be published in this journal.But some of them are short pieces,and they're also doing longer research projects as wellto investigate certain issues related to violence

  • 34:48

    against black youth and police brutalityand gentrification in communities and foodinsecurity.And that just seems to be proliferatingin a lot of different places, often started by grassrootscommunity organizers who may be entered the academy, but alsoby different community-based organizations.So a lot of that youth-led research I'mreally excited about.

  • 35:08

    And then also, some other work that's really exciting to meis some of the work that is beingdone by larger institutions that'sbeing used to actually create programming that can addresssome of those larger issues.So for example, in the area of public health,I think there's a lot of really exciting stuff happeningin Chicago.

  • 35:29

    For example the Sinai Urban Health Institute,they have all these researchers in the area of epidemiology,have looked at obesity and diabetes within Chicago,and then use that and use some funding and the resourcesfrom their large institution to create amazing initiatives thatare very holistic and are very embedded

  • 35:50

    within the cultural practices and community practices.So instead, maybe a traditional way of addressing diabetesis saying, OK, we're going to give you some medicationor we're going to come up with a new diet for you.This, they actually, as part of this projectthey have people from the community whoare trained to be health educatorsand then work with individuals to create diets and food

  • 36:14

    options that make sense, that are meaningful for them.And they have aerobics classes thatare led by community members that maybehave 50 or 60 people come in.And so, it's really much more about preventive care,but community-led sorts of initiativesto address the research that theyhave found in terms of diabetes and obesity within Chicago.

  • 36:37

    So over the past four years, I'vebeen developing something I like to call cross-trainingwhich, again, it involves this bi-directional transmissionof knowledge between the university and the communities.So oftentimes, things like service-based learningare really seen in this uni-directional way,that the university comes to bring resourcesto help the community.But so much of what I gain from working in a grassroots

  • 36:59

    community organization was about their knowledgeand experiences, but also, so much of what I learnedin that setting, then when I went to the Academy,these are things that they were grappling with.How do we integrate project-based learningwithin a classroom context?How do we involve students within the community?

  • 37:20

    And I'd say, oh, they're doing it over here.So, a lot of the alternative educators that I work with,I brought them to campus to-- For example, last year, Ibrought a teacher from an alternative schooland two of her students who were doing-- theyhave a senior portfolio project that theyneed to complete for graduation from their high school,where they work with a community-based organization

  • 37:42

    to investigate a particular problemand then develop a presentation that theydo at the end of the year.And then there's a portfolio of other sortsof activities that they need to compile,and other sorts of materials that they need to compile,related to post secondary goals.But they came to present to a group of language and literacy

  • 38:04

    scholars and students who were involvedin this Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Languageand Literacy, and they were blown awayby everything they shared.And the Director of the Writing Center was there, and said,we've been trying to do portfolios here.This is a lot of great information.And so that really inspired me to think about, how canwe do this cross-training so that thereare resources that maybe a community needs

  • 38:25

    in terms of working with, how theycan work with different kinds of technological resources,or maybe there's a particular assessment strategythat might be helpful for them betterunderstanding their work.And so having that cross-training transmissionof knowledge and expertise, I thinkwould be really important.And also, it means that people areable to have this kind of collaborative sharing

  • 38:46

    of expertise, rather than just one-way transmission.So I've been working on that.And then, another thing that I'm reallyinterested in-- a lot of my community-based qualitativeresearch really looks at community as a physical space,and I have been very involved in workingin a physical community.But there's a lot of really exciting work happeningin looking in social media, and so

  • 39:10

    how can social media be viewed as a community?And so, on there's a great piece that was recentlywritten by Bonian Rosser about, can a hash tag be a field site?And there are some problematic things about just usingonly the hash tags, because there's all sorts of contextthat you can't get with the hashtag,

  • 39:31

    or things that people might-- whatever they're hash taggingmight have different social context.So I would like to do more on usingsocial media within community-based qualitativeresearch too.The youth that I work with, that is oftenone of their communities that they're involved in, and so

  • 39:51

    looking at what sorts of knowledge and skillsare talked about there, what sortsof-- how that might be used, also, to disseminateand transmit information.Academics play an integral role in knowledge production

  • 40:11

    and social change.And I think in community-based qualitative research,those processes are intertwined.So they shouldn't be seen as separate processes,but how can the knowledge that we're creatingcontribute, again, to the transformationof certain resources.How are we connecting what we're findingin communities with larger social and economic forcesand factors, and how are we taking

  • 40:36

    what we're learning to improve the lives of othersand participating in those debates.And again, I've talked about how it's importantto see the community as a source of knowledge and resourcesand strengths, but that there's also definitelysome destructive and harmful elements.And so how do we use our researchto give voice to some of the strengths and the practicesand the beliefs that haven't been talked

  • 40:58

    about within the academic spheres, and at the same time,use those to address some real concerns within the communityand improve conditions for community members.So it's important for us to see communities, again,as repositories of knowledge and places of strength,and there's significant resources that we can identify,

  • 41:21

    but that we shouldn't gloss over,also, some of the more destructive and harmfulelements.And so I think sometimes, when wetalk about this funds of knowledge approach,we don't want to make it seem like there aren'tharmful practices or behaviors that maybecould be challenged or changed.But I think the thing is that oftentimes, thoseare seen as only taking place within low income

  • 41:41

    or marginalized communities.And so it's very important that, as partof the research, while we providethese nuanced perspectives and maybe point out some thingsthat could be changed, that we're notusing our research to further pathologize communitiesor, again, for those deficit orientations.And so I think it's really incumbent upon usas researchers to say, OK, there are certain kindsof things that we want to change everywhere,

  • 42:03

    and not just in certain marginalized communitiesthat maybe are the focus of community-based qualitativeresearch projects.And it's important, again, in termsof contributing to debates, that we find a way to also,I think, to not only-- So in my research,

  • 42:24

    I want to involve community members in the researchin all stages of the process.But at the same time, I think it's importantthat I find ways to keep pushing the research forwardand bringing resources to the communityso that they don't put their time inand say, oh, we did all this stuffand it's still sitting on a shelf somewhere,or you've gone on to your next project.So I think it's really important as researchers,

  • 42:46

    and this gets back to some of the ethical issuesI raised earlier, that we make sure that we can buildsustained relationships with communities in doing this work,so that it isn't something where they feel like, again, they'vebeen exploited again.You know, yes, they said it was a participatory model,but at the same time, they left and did not complete a researchproject or didn't use the research

  • 43:07

    to improve conditions or bring some resources backto the community.


Dr. Laura Ruth Johnson discusses her work in community-based qualitative research. This approach stresses community participation in every aspect of the research, from establishing the research question to disseminating the findings. Johnson explains the importance of orientation, reflection, and relationships in this type of research.

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Laura Ruth Johnson Discusses Community-Based Qualitative Research

Dr. Laura Ruth Johnson discusses her work in community-based qualitative research. This approach stresses community participation in every aspect of the research, from establishing the research question to disseminating the findings. Johnson explains the importance of orientation, reflection, and relationships in this type of research.

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