Learning qualitative research skills can be a daunting process for students given characteristics such as its subjective and time-consuming nature. I therefore wanted to understand in detail my students’ course experiences by exploring the (i) literal and metaphorical language that they utilized to describe their experiences with qualitative research; (ii) challenges they faced in undertaking qualitative research; and (iii) personal and course triumphs shared by students. Using a generic qualitative research design, I undertook document analysis of a sample of written coursework reflections from 17 of my master’s level students. Findings showed that students had an emotional experience of lows and highs as they engaged with the qualitative research process, that they embraced the opportunity to engage with practical and experiential learning activities, that their appreciation for qualitative research grew, and that peer support was an important element in motivating them throughout the course. Thus, I recommend the integration of opportunities for more practical, experiential learning activities and peer work for those delivering qualitative research courses.


learning qualitative research, course experiences, reflection, document analysis, generic qualitative research

Author Bio(s)

Therese Ferguson is a Senior Lecturer in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Qualitative Research in the School of Education (SOE) at The University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She is also the Programme Leader for Change from Within, a school-based initiative in Jamaica which addresses violence and indiscipline, and the Coordinator of the ESD Working Group within the SOE. Please direct correspondence to therese.ferguson02@uwimona.edu.jm.

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