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Nova Southeastern University

3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale Fl, 33314



Valerie J. Janesick, (Ph.d. Michigan State University) is Professor Emerita of Educational Leadership & Inquiry in the Department of Leadership, Counseling, Adult, Career, and Higher Education at the University of South Florida.  She teaches courses in Qualitative Research Methods, Critical Pedagogy, and Oral History Life History and Biography.  She has published extensively through books, articles, and book chapters on qualitative research methods.   Her focus on poetry, the researcher reflective journal and artistic analyses led her to Zen Principles for art and design.

Conference Presentation

"Contemplative Qualitative Inquiry: Zen Principles for the Qualitative Researcher"


Looking forward to the next 20 years of Qualitative Inquiry, Contemplative approaches to Qualitative Inquiry offer researchers new ways of seeing and acting.  Since qualitative researchers are basically storytellers, the Eastern tradition of Zen Buddhism offers researchers a way to view, re-view and analyze qualitative data through Zen principles.  This session will look at three Zen principles.   These are:  Impermanence, Non-self, and Nirvana.  In addition the ancient practices of telling stories through Koans and Sutras may provide assistance in thinking metaphorically and analyzing and writing about qualitative data as well. Koans provide a model for constructing good questions in qualitative research projects. Sutras are also a way to tell a story that provokes critical thought, stronger writing skills, and deep ways to analyze data, and awareness of diversity and social issues.  Zen teachers remind us of impermanence, a perfect way to view our findings that are tentative and ever changing.  Impermanence leads us to non-self.  Non-self is a journey of looking seriously into the self to be free of the self.   Non-self asserts that no existence is separate and that relates directly to the researcher and participant relationship.  Nirvana refers to total awareness and understanding of the world before us.  Most illuminating in Zen history is the use of poetry to reflect understanding of nature, persons, and interactions between the two.  Poetry as analysis is an emerging path to qualitative data analysis, describing the role of the researcher, and the analysis of the research process from start to finish.  Zen practitioners use haiku and other styles of poetry to make sense of their world.  Poetry is the daily bread of the Zen practitioner.  By choosing contemplative based techniques, the qualitative researcher may extend the intuitive process and the creative process.  Zen teachers often focus on curiosity and contemplation.  This can assist in how we develop our field of Qualitative Inquiry. 

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