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Accepting Feedback from the Community

Posted on February 28, 2006

Velma McBride Murry (bio) discusses the importance of community input at the beginning of the research process.

 

The other part of it is we allow them to look at, to the extent that they understand what we are doing, the heuristic model that guides whatever it is we do or the conceptual model. We often tell the story that we were out in the community one night many many years ago, showing these community leaders what it is we were planning to do, and one of the elders in the community stood up, and he said, "I understand all of what you're doing, but you have a major missing piece." We were thinking when you're designing your conceptual model, you read the literature, you have a real clear understanding of what it is you need to be putting together to explain whatever it is you want to explain, and he said, "You do not have anything regarding the church and religion in your model. Why don't you have that there?"

My colleague and I said, "Well, we don't know a lot about this notion of how religion and the religious institution fits within this model." Then this elder said, "Then you need to go back and look because you cannot really understand how these families in our community work unless you do understand how to include the church or religion."

Of course, we went back, began to read the literature, began to understand a little bit more about how religion could possibly fit within the conceptual model that we had developed, placed that back in the model, explained to them where it would fit in the model and how we saw it working with what it is we were thinking of assessing, and he said, "That's fine."

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in April 2005.

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