Session: Empowering Voices: Qualitative Ways of Knowing at the Annual SSWR Conference (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

43 Empowering Voices: Qualitative Ways of Knowing at the Annual SSWR Conference

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 2:45 PM-3:45 PM
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Sherri Simmons-Horton, PhD, University of Texas at San Antonio, Dana Levin, PhD, LMSW, University of Windsor and Candace Christensen, PhD, University of Texas at San Antonio
Qualitative methods in social work research has often been subordinately positioned in the empirical hierarchy. Senior and junior social work academics are challenged with fewer outlets to publish and present research using qualitative methodologies (Drisko, 2016). Further, doctoral social work candidates speak to limited instruction on qualitative research, often discouraging them from engaging in these methods to complete their dissertation projects (Gringeri, Barusch, & Cambron, 2013). The merits of qualitative research are vast. In the social work discipline, these methods are integral in providing rich meaning to social problems based on client experiences and perspectives. Ultimately, it is social work research that informs practice strategies, and policy development which enhances the lives of marginalized groups. Thus, the voices of scholars, who support the merits of qualitative study must be renewed now.

This roundtable discussion proposes to confer on how social workers can advance and promote the teaching and use of qualitative methods, in research. Our methods give voice to marginalized client groups and are integral in informing practice. Use of qualitative methods is also consistent with social work value of social justice, through empowering participants to advocate for social problems through sharing their lived experiences. The objectives for session participants are: 1) inform attendees on how to design a phenomenological project, a photovoice project, and an ethnographic project, 2) elevate the discussion on the role of qualitative pedagogy in social work research and practice, 3) advocate for increased presence of qualitative instruction in graduate and doctoral social work programs.

This roundtable discussion will convene three research scholars with expertise in specific qualitative ways of knowing methods. Our first panelist will present the phenomenological method and how her work gives voice to children, youth, and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The second panelist discusses her projects using ethnographic methods. She will share research experiences as a participant observer, through the creation, implementation, and evaluation of a theater of the oppressed intervention focused campus sexual violence. The final presenters are a qualitative duo who will discuss the photovoice methodology and their research with adults with serious mental illness. Following panelists’ presentations, attendees will be invited into a discussion focused on the roundtable objectives. The design of the roundtable will follow the following format: 1) scholars will present their qualitative method of expertise, providing an example of a research project, 2) presents will open the roundtable for questions and discussion with session participants. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences with qualitative research, 3) presenters will provide their thoughts on future direction of increased inclusion of qualitative study in doctoral programs, in funding opportunities, and in general social work academia.

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