Mentoring in qualitative research

One thing I’ve observed about the qualitative inquiry community is that there is a wealth of ideas that challenge and extend our thinking and introduce us to creative approaches to applying theoretical concepts. In their edited volume, Philosophical Mentoring in Qualitative Research: Collaborating and Inquiring Together (Guyotte & Wolgemuth, 2022), Kelly Guyotte (University of Alabama) and Jennifer Wolgemuth (University of South Florida) bring together authors to explore how mentoring within the qualitative community might be done differently.

The volume is comprised of 10 chapters from scholars who use a wide range of theoretical approaches. These are interspersed by 15 short “mentoring moments” in which authors reflect on mentorship through a range of mediums. Altogether, the volume addresses a range of questions put forth by the editors:

  • What guides qualitative mentoring practices?
  • What does ‘good’ qualitative mentoring look like?
  • What vision(s) of qualitative research do we enact in mentoring relationships?
  • Why is mentoring something that now seems so essential to the future of qualitative inquiry?

In the editors’ introduction, Guyotte and Wolgemuth explain that they are interested in approaches to mentoring that demonstrate relational approaches to mentoring that depart from the status quo.

Contributing authors take to this task using a range of theoretical approaches. For example, these include Brian Massumi’s idea of “relational flips” (Carol Taylor: Chapter 2), Donna Haraway’s discussions of composting (Jonathan M. Coker, Samantha Haraf, María Migueliz Valcarlos, Scottie Basham, Diane Austin, Dionne Davis, Anna Gonzalez and Jennifer R. Wolgemuth: Chapter 3), Elizabeth Grosz’s writing on ontology, ethics and materialism combined with João Biehl and Peter Locke’s writing on becoming (Candace Kuby: Chapter 5), Manuel DeLanda’s assemblage theory (Brenda Sifuentez and Ryan Evely Gildersleeve: Chapter 8), and Donna Haraway’s notion of string figuring (Susan Nordstrom: Chapter 9). The book presents a rich diversity of ways that mentoring might be approached as a philosophical practice. I was struck by the themes of relationship (involving tenderness, vulnerability, caring, and love), and imagining possibilities for different futures (e.g., through play, risk-taking, being vulnerable, and sitting with discomfort). I was also alerted to a whole array of literature to add to my “to-read” list.

Contributors take advantage of a range of artistic approaches to represent their ideas. These include poems (Shelly Melchior, Missy Springsteen-Haupt), haiku (Jaclyn Kuspiel Murray), narratives (Krista Mallo, Quintin R. Bostic II, Ying Wang), embroidery (Carlson Coogler), and images (Rebekah Gordon, Cristina Valencia Mazzanti). As a whole, this collage of chapters and mentoring moments demonstrates alternative ways to think about and engage in mentoring relationships with others in which all parties learn and become together. The book provides students and teachers, novices and experts plenty to mull over, and numerous ideas with which to experiment. The book succeeds in providing a host of ideas for engaging in relational approaches to mentoring in higher education that depart from well-worn mentoring models and responds artfully to the editors’ guiding questions. Read, ponder, enjoy… and experiment…

Kathy Roulston

Reference

Guyotte, K. W., & Wolgemuth, J. R. (Eds.). (2022). Philosophical mentoring in qualitative research: Collaborating and inquiring together. Routledge.

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