WSU News

Prof explores methods for collaborative, qualitative research

VANCOUVER, Wash. – A new method that challenges two or more researchers to juxtapose their life experiences in order to gain understanding of a social phenomenon is the focus of a book co-authored by Richard Sawyer, an associate professor of education at Washington State University Vancouver.
“Duoethnography” recently was released by Oxford University Press as part of its new, international series examining emergent qualitative research methods. Written with Joe Norris, professor of drama in education and applied theater at Brock University, the book is the authors’ second on this topic.
As the authors state, duoethnography is not a “research tool,” but rather a way of living in a research relationship with a co-researcher. The authors developed the methodology with a group of international researchers over the past six years.
As a collaborative research methodology, duoethnography requires two or more researchers to use their own biographies as sites of research in order to create dialogic narratives. The researchers provide multiple perspectives of a particular phenomenon for the reader, inviting him or her to enter the conversation. The dialectic process of creating duoethnography is designed to be transformative to the researchers, as well as to the readers of their work.
“Duoethnography is similar to other forms of qualitative research in that it examines experience from an insider perspective,” said Sawyer. “However, it differs from many forms of qualitative research in that the ethnographers research themselves. For this reason, the research findings are also about the researchers themselves and provide a basis for self-accountability and change – on personal as well as societal levels.”
Sawyer chairs both the WSU doctorate of education program in teacher leadership and the masters in teaching secondary certification program at WSU Vancouver. The focus of his research is the pedagogy of change and praxis, specifically within the contexts of duoethnography, international democratic education and curriculum theory. He has recently conducted research in Mexico and Palestine.