Document Type : Original Article



BACKGROUND: The role of medical undergraduates is limited while interacting with the community 
related to issues involving human behavior. Since qualitative research seeks to build a holistic 
understanding of social phenomena, we designed this project to expose them to the basics of 
qualitative research in a real‑world setting of experiential learning. The aim of this study is to sensitize 
the medical undergraduates to the basics of qualitative research and able to apply it in the context 
of experiential learning in the community.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this current educational intervention, a structured teaching 
program was designed and applied for the first time, to our students to effectively sensitize them 
to qualitative research in a natural community setting, intended to provide them a solid base for 
experiential learning. A batch of students (n = 50) was selected by convenient sampling method 
who had their clinical postings with us. At first, a “session planning guide” was drawn on the plan of 
conduction of this program. We followed the “facilitators reference manual by research consortium on 
educational outcomes and poverty (RECOUP) for our teaching sessions. The framework of our study 
was executed in the following sequence: sensitization of the learners, exposure to structured quality 
experience, systematic debriefing sessions with evaluation of learner experiences, and the process 
and outcome feedbacks from the learners. The students were monitored by trained facilitators. The 
various study tools used in the structured teaching program included, the teaching sessions using 
the RECOUP manual, didactic lectures and short group interactive sessions to teach qualitative 
research and photographs and video clips to facilitate the sessions, mock demonstrations and role 
plays on interviewing techniques, use of case vignettes on the theme “perception of psychosis” 
for interviewing the community, structured debriefing guide, and various self‑reflective exercises. 
Learners’ perspective of community perception, debriefing sessions, and self‑reflective responses 
were transcribed, and manual content analysis was done to identify the codes and interpret the results.
RESULTS: Majority could appreciate the uniqueness of qualitative research over the quantitative 
counterpart. They could enumerate the attributes of a good qualitative researcher. The debriefing 
exercises made them summarize their experiences and the self‑reflective exercises enabled them 
to identify their abilities and critique their ideas. It was a different experience to our learners as they 
could identify themselves with the sentiments of the community. To them, the facilitating points 
were the interviewing skills and confidence gained in facing the community. However, they felt time 
constraint for exploring the sensitive issues during the fixed posting schedule.
CONCLUSIONS: The experience of learning beyond the boundaries of a classroom setting sensitized 
them to various community perceptions and reactions. The students perceived the qualitative methods 
well and could apply the lessons learnt in the facility. They also felt that this learning exposure gave 
them community orientation and confidence in dealing with community issues.


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