Journal of Christian Ministry | 2024: Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach to Projects for Doctor of Ministry Dissertations, 2nd ed. – Book Review

2024: Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach to Projects for Doctor of Ministry Dissertations, 2nd ed. – Book Review

2024: Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach to Projects for Doctor of Ministry Dissertations, 2nd ed. – Book Review

Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach
to Projects for Doctor of Ministry Dissertations, 2nd Ed.
Tim Sensing
Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2022. 436 pages, $49.00/$61.00
Reviewed by Garrett Ho
Gateway Seminary

Second editions do not typically warrant a review. Tim Sensing’s Qualitative Research is an exception to this common practice. While the original edition served Doctor of Ministry candidates as a trusted guide through the project phase for eleven years, recent changes in accreditation standards provide the catalyst for a revised edition. This revision is more than a facelift of his original edition; it is a significant step forward. This review identifies Sensing’s goals for the new edition, evaluates whether he is successful, and considers the audience that will benefit from the new edition.

Sensing’s preface to the second edition makes his intentions clear. He lists three enhancements to the text: expanded topics, citations, and updated resources (xi). Taking the totality of his changes into consideration, the improvements fall into the following categories: broadened scope, responses to changes in educational standards, and general content improvements. Concerning the first, Sensing acknowledges, “the first edition was written to meet the needs of Abilene Christian University DMin students as a primary audience” (xii). In broadening the scope, Sensing acknowledges a range of denominational and ministry contexts and writes in an intentionally inclusive manner. Concerning the second, Sensing updates the book’s subtitle, replacing the word thesis with dissertation. He integrates the ATS 2020 standards concerning the DMin degree and addresses the “potential for programs to reduce the rigor of the DMin degree and not promote excellence” (2). Finally, Sensing refines, updates, and expands the content of the text. Studying this third category reveals examples of the first two categories.

Quantitatively, the revised edition is a significant expansion of the original. Consider the updates and additions by the numbers. Sensing lengthened page count from 300 to 454. The section with the most additions is the introduction, which identifies and responds to the change to ATS standards. Related to this, Sensing clarifies and expands the concept of the Doctor of Ministry degree as a theological practice. Sensing increased the number of figures in the text from twelve to sixteen. Added are a visual representation of The Perichoresis of Practice, Triadic Fusion of Horizons, Reflection’s Ongoing Life, and A Mimetic Model of Reflection. These are welcome additions as illustrations of key concepts. Titles in the bibliography swell from 235 to 466 titles.

Hidden in this figure are the newly consulted editions, such as Martyn Hammersley and Paul Atkinson’s Ethnography.Sensing omits other resources entirely, such as John W. Creswell’s Research Design. Footnotes in the body of the text grow from 403 to 579 and appendices number thirteen from their previous six. Similar to observations about the bibliography, these numbers in juxtaposition illustrate the curation of the text amid its expansion. In a vivid example, Sensing moved two appendices of the original to a content footnote on page 362 of the new edition. Finally, the subject index extends from 164 to 233 top-level terms. By each quantitative measure, the revised edition is an expansion of the original.

To evaluate the quality of the changes, readers must take a close look at the text and consider the impact and value of the changes. Sensing applies the same chapterization as the original so comparisons between the two editions are straightforward. Chapter 4 “Tools of the Trade” provides a prime example of the types of changes that the reader is likely to encounter. It does not contain the most extensive changes; that designation belongs to the introduction. However, it is not without significant changes, a description that fits Chapter 6 “Taking Note.” Instead, Chapter 4 provides a median example of Sensing’s updates, improved layout of material, and fresh content. Since the tools themselves remain the same, how they are organized and described is the question at present.

Sensing offers nine general-purpose tools in the original edition: sampling, questions, observations, interviews, questionnaires, surveys, group interviews, artifacts, and scales and testing instruments. The revised edition contains the same tools but they have been reordered and categorized. Sampling is moved to the preceding chapter, joining the selection of project participants. Questions now is a category that includes interviews, group interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. The Observation Protocol now is moved to the appendix, making the chapter more readable. This reorganization enables Sensing to draw attention to one of the innovations of the revised edition: Examples from the Field.

Chapter 4 contains the highest concentration of these features. Some of these vignettes are present in the original edition without the special attention of a unique heading. However, many are new to the text and they contribute to the range of denominational and ministry contexts. This includes two examples from a multi-faith healthcare facility and another example drawn from Latin American women and their involvement in social movements. Ultimately, examples such as these enhance inclusivity while promoting readability and understanding.

This review gives significant attention to the changes in the revised edition of Qualitative Measures. Although the reader will find the table of contents familiar, Sensing improves the text across multiple dimensions. Is it enough to justify replacing the original edition in your library with the second edition? This reviewer answers yes. Educators will be particularly interested to read the expanded introduction and receive encouragement from Sensing’s exhortation to practice rigorous interpretation of the new standards. Candidates will benefit from the up-to-date resources, improvements to presentation, and integration of a broader range of ministry contexts. Both groups will be grateful that the two editions can coexist together since chapterization and much of the material remain intact.