Encyclopedia Entry

Heuristic Inquiry

David R. Hiles

The heuristic approach to qualitative research was pioneered by American humanistic psychologist Clark Moustakas. Although it is an exploratory approach to research, it is really quite different from other approaches in that it is not concerned with discovering theories or testing hypotheses, but is concerned directly with human knowing and especially, with self-inquiry. The term heuristic derives from the Greek word heuriskein , which means to find or discover , and is used by Moustakas to describe the process of an inner search for knowledge, aimed at discovering the nature and meaning of an experience. It is an approach that offers a significant departure from mainstream research in that it explicitly acknowledges the involvement of the researcher to the extent that the lived experience of the researcher becomes the main focus of the research. In this respect, heuristic inquiry (HI) anticipates the growing awareness of the participatory position in which ...

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