Hearing the Voices of Students and Teachers: A Phenomenological Approach to Educational Research

Brian Kelleher Sohn, Sandra P. Thomas, Katherine H. Greenberg, Howard R. Pollio


Many contemporary researchers claim to use a phenomenological approach but seldom connect their methods to tenets from phenomenological philosophy. We describe a distinctive approach, grounded in the writings of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, for conducting educational research. Procedures are outlined for bracketing pre-understandings of a phenomenon, interviewing, and thematizing data with assistance of an interdisciplinary interpretive group. Using our approach, researchers capture the figural aspects of a phenomenon that dominate perception as well as the contextual background that is less visible but integral to understanding it. This phenomenological approach offers educational researchers a radical empiricism, a flexible structure, and a dialogical community of support.


phenomenology, hermeneutic phenomenological research, qualitative methodology, educational research methods, existential phenomenology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17583/qre.2017.2374

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Qualitative Research in Education | ISSN: 2014-6418

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