Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is an established qualitative methodology widely adopted within health-based research. However, one gap in the literature is that little has been written about IPA’s employability within educationally situated research. Our paper aims to demonstrate that IPA is a suitable methodology for education research. This paper has two parts. In the first part, the authors utilise the method of exegesis and theoretical analysis to explicate and provide clarity concerning the often-misunderstood philosophical and theoretical background of IPA. In the second part, we advocate for IPA as a suitable option for qualitative research in educational contexts. To execute this advocacy, the authors present a specific example of qualitative research that successfully employed IPA as its methodological approach and system for analysis. We present the details of a research project that utilised IPA to explore spirituality in early childhood education contexts, and in doing so the authors illustrate how the theories and methods of IPA can be actualised, thus introducing IPA into education contexts in a coherent fashion. The overall aim of the paper is to affirm IPA as a viable qualitative approach for education researchers.


children’s spirituality, descriptive case study, educational research, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, phenomenological philosophy, qualitative research

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Christine Robinson (ORCiD: 0000-0002-8938-2994) is Associate Professor and Associate Dean Research at The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle campus. Christine coordinates and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate programs across the areas of early childhood pedagogy, spirituality, and Religious Education. Christine’s Ph.D. explored educators’ practices for promoting children’s spirituality in the three- and four-year-old context. Christine’s research interests lie in the areas of pre-service teacher education; developing quality early childhood educators and programs; play-based pedagogies, children’s spirituality and with a focus on qualitative methodologies. Please direct correspondence to christine.robinson@nd.edu.au

Dr. Heath Williams (ORCiD: 0000-0002-1182-4780) has historically focused on Husserl and intersubjectivity. Heath’s Ph.D. addressed the relation between phenomenological empathy and mirror-neuron based embodied simulation. His research interests are in the many faces of phenomenology, including its intersection with the Catholic intellectual tradition, contemporary cognitive science, analytic philosophy, and qualitative psychology. Other interests include philosophy of psychology and of mind, especially the hard problem of consciousness and the contemporary resurgence of panpsychism.

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