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Qual Health Res. 2015 Dec;25(12):1610-22. doi: 10.1177/1049732315613982.

Teaching Theory Construction With Initial Grounded Theory Tools: A Reflection on Lessons and Learning.

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Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, USA


This article addresses criticisms of qualitative research for spawning studies that lack analytic development and theoretical import. It focuses on teaching initial grounded theory tools while interviewing, coding, and writing memos for the purpose of scaling up the analytic level of students' research and advancing theory construction. Adopting these tools can improve teaching qualitative methods at all levels although doctoral education is emphasized here. What teachers cover in qualitative methods courses matters. The pedagogy presented here requires a supportive environment and relies on demonstration, collective participation, measured tasks, progressive analytic complexity, and accountability. Lessons learned from using initial grounded theory tools are exemplified in a doctoral student's coding and memo-writing excerpts that demonstrate progressive analytic development. The conclusion calls for increasing the number and depth of qualitative methods courses and for creating a cadre of expert qualitative methodologists.


building analytic skills; co-construction of data; grounded theory; intensive interviewing; memo-writing; qualitative; qualitative coding; reflexivity; teaching qualitative methods; theory construction

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