Background: In contemporary educational research learning is not necessarily determined by outcomes measured by scales or prefabricated instruments. Student learning is rather looked upon as a process where individuals learn in relation to what is meaningful to him or her (Marton & Booth). This implies that the students’ perception of their learning environment is of importance for the researcher. Phenomenology is a research approach focusing on how individuals experience their environment and thus, suitable for such investigations.
Summary of work: The empirical phenomenological approach has been investigated regarding its aim and procedures. Elements of this approach will be presented illustrated by a recent study.
Summary of results: Phenomenology has characteristic core elements that the researcher must acknowledge.
Conclusions: Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy constitutes an excellent base for a research approach that aims at taking a subjects standpoint as a foundation for the research. A medical education researcher can be overwhelmed by philosophical literature, but contemporary psychologists have worked out empirical methods making the philosophy feasible to carry out in practice.
Take-home messages: Empirical phenomenology is a research methodology highlighting individuals’ experiences, adapted from Husserl’s philosophical method. There are guidelines that break down the approach into practical procedures that make the approach possible to carry through in a medical education context.