Last Friday, February 24, 2012, UMass-Lowell's Qualitative Research Network (QRN) sponsored the visit of psychologist Dan P. McAdams. McAdams is Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Social Policy AND Director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives at Northwestern University.
About 50 individuals--faculty, staff, and students--from UMass-Lowell and other institutions in the area were present for a morning presentation...and an afternoon workshop.
McAdams topic was his signature take on Life Stories. His visit was timed to coincide with Black History Month. He spoke specifically to his experience exploring the life stories of highly generative black and white adults. This work is described in his book--The Redemptive Self: Stories American Live By. (Oxford University Press, 2006).
I was fascinated to hear the way his work moves back and forth from qualitative to quanitative measures. He undertakes intense one-to-one interviews, gathering thick descriptive data, but he also 'works' this data using various numerical tools. He validates his qualitative work with the use of various survey instruments.
In the afternoon, he listened to the research challenges the audience members faced and offered resources and thoughts based upon his experience. He helped us to where and how our work might intersect with the life story approach.
--MJ Kim, Graduate School of Education, UML
--Khanh Dinh, Psychology Department, UML
--Allyssa McCabe, Psychology Department (and the driving force bringing McAdams to campus)
--Dan McAdams himself from Northwestern University
--Andy Hostetler, Psychology Department, UML
--Judy Davidson, Graduate School of Education, UML
This event was sponsored by the Qualitative Research Network working with the Center for Women and Work (where we are now located). The CWW administrative support was fantastic.
McAdams morning presentation was videotaped by our media library and will be available soon on their web site.
All in all, I can say this was an extremely successful event for the Qualitative Research Network. Thank you to all whom were involved.