Reconceptualizing and decentering think-aloud methodology in qualitative research

Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, Elliot P. Douglas, David Therriault, Zaria Malcolm, Nathan McNeill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Most applications of think-aloud protocols have been conducted from theoretical perspectives that prioritize knowledge that is predictable and controlled by the researchers. In this article, we present an augmented form of the think-aloud method in which we aim to gain situated and participant-generated knowledge. The context for our study is examination of the problem-solving processes used by engineering students. We illustrate how our adaptation of traditional think-aloud protocols provides insights into participants' thoughts and beliefs and how such think-alouds can increase social scientists' understandings of complex phenomena such as learning or problem solving. In contrast to a typical focus on researcher-defined processes or an analysis of the products generated by students, our approach to think-aloud utilizes think-aloud procedures in combination with follow-up interviews to expand participants' perspectives and investigate their experiences more deeply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-753
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • constructivism
  • problem solving
  • think-aloud methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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