Research in Higher Education

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 385–400 | Cite as

The Importance of Pilot Studies: Beginning the Hermeneutic Circle

  • Adrianna Kezar


This article suggests the importance of experiential knowledge and/or engagement of the researcher for developing understanding. One way to ground researchers' theoretical derived understanding is to conduct a pilot study. The hermeneutic circle, as described by Heidegger, provides a framework for understanding the importance of pilot studies; it suggests that a person must have a practical sense of the domain within which a phenomenon is situated in order to develop understanding. In this article, I present the many meaningful revisions to the theoretical framework and methodology that a pilot study allowed me to make within the research project. Two important implications that contribute to higher education research and practice are offered: (1) it illustrates the importance of grounding the research process in practical activity, and (2) it highlights how reflection can help to improve our research practice.


High Education Pilot Study Important Implication Education Research Research Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrianna Kezar
    • 1
  1. 1.ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher EducationGeorge Washington UniversityWashington

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