Using Phenomenology and Heuristic Inquiry in Family Science

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April 13, 2023 11:00am - 12:30pm
Free for NCFR members & CFLEs / $94 for nonmembers & non-CFLEs / Become a member
J. Maria Bermudez
Presenter: J. Maria Bermudez, Ph.D., LMFT

Since family and close relationships are an integral part of everyday life, it is important to recognize how these relationships are formed and maintained within the contexts of where the relationships naturally exist. Phenomenological research methods are conducive to understanding the strengths and uniqueness of interpersonal relationships in their natural settings.

An adaptation to phenomenological methods has been developed to explicitly acknowledge the role of the researcher. Heuristic inquiry encourages a researcher to openly investigate their perspectives of the phenomenon being studied, such as exploring personal views on racial identity when it comes to investigating racial bias in the community. In other words, phenomenological method is focused on the phenomenon, while heuristic inquiry takes a person-centered approach. Thus, phenomenological inquiry emphasizes the descriptions and interpretations of relationships within context (i.e., transpersonal approach), while heuristic inquiry explores the development of meaning by investigating the direction and value within oneself (i.e., personal approach). Heuristic inquiry brings the researcher’s lived or near lived experiences of the phenomenon to the forefront offering unique opportunities for using critical theoretical perspectives to interpret and disseminate the findings.

This webinar will explain the process of using heuristic inquiry as a qualitative research method and how to use this creative and rigorous approach to apply and advance critical theories and praxis in Family Science. During the webinar, an overview of phenomenological research and the primary tenets of heuristic inquiry as a qualitative research tradition will be provided. Dr. Bermudez will also discuss the main differences between heuristic inquiry and phenomenology, and provide clear steps for organizing and analyzing data within and across the sample according to both techniques. Overall, attendees will discern when phenomenelogy or heuristic inquiry is appropriate for their particular research questions and goals, assess which method is aligned with their epistemological stance toward knowledge production, and be provided with a foundation for using heuristic inquiry with their own research projects.

By the end of this webinar, attendees will be able to:

  • Define the tenets of heuristic inquiry
  • Apply heuristic inquiry in their own work, and
  • Utilize heuristic inquiry to advance existing Family Science research

Approved for 1.5 hours of CFLE continuing education credit.

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About the Presenter

J. Maria Bermudez, Ph.D., LMFT, is an associate professor of human development and Family Science and marriage and family therapy and an affiliate faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Qualitative Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on socioculturally-attuned and strength-based approaches to research and outreach for marginalized populations, specifically Latinx families and communities. As a scholar, Dr. Bermudez’s research is informed by feminist and decolonizing methodologies, and she attends to developmental, intersectional, and contextual issues among transnational and mixed-status families. Dr. Bermudez’s primary research methods include interpretive phenomenology, heuristic inquiry, and community-based participatory research.


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