It seems that research designs with large sample size employing statistical analysis are regarded as valuable in modern research of medicine or public health. Significance of case study may be forgotten in recent years. In quantitative researches based on a large number of cases, individuality and bumpiness of each cases are leveled flatly, and we cannot acquire precise information about personal histories behind each cases, course of diseases or process of treatment from such researches. Case studies can provide meaningful information to those engaged in clinical practice or public health activities in communities. There is complementary relationship between quantitative researches with large sample size and case studies, and both types of study are essential. However, professional skills which each professional acquire through his experience are not sufficiently described in case studies as well as in qualitative researches. The author thinks that we could acquire professional skills only through working with and learning from experts under apprenticeship system. In medical disciplines, we come to be able to make scientific and effective interventions, when three types of learning; knowing information from qualitative researches, learning from case studies and acquisition of skills through practical experience under apprenticeship system, meet together.
The author is attracted to the reports which record the community health activities. The reason is that he has been taken into the situation described there and felt as if he faced the same situation and experienced just the same things, which makes him enable to develop new ways to think. Such reports are written in a way that reporters describe what they actually experience and observe. The author took up the theme of “case-reporting as methodology”, because I have often met reports which only tell the results of measuring something but fail in conveying what reporters actually experienced. There might be misunderstanding that case-reporting is not allowed to be taken as a scientific way, and in consequence case-reports seldom come out in front of me. While touching on the essentials of natural science in relation to the observation of the natural world, this presentation tried to clarify the role and the purpose of case-reporting in the aspect of method with which one can describe what he or she experiences and observes in the community health activities.
This report summarizes my presentation titled “process to approach community peopleʼs thinking.” To clarify the process as a public health researcher, I attached the subtitle as “What did I learn as “public health” under the academic apprenticeship?” Generally speaking, public health is an umbrella term. In the U.S. and most of Western European countries, learning of public health does not mean anything until the learner specifies the discipline of public health such as maternal health, biostatistics, epidemiology, and so on. Nowadays, the learning environment is mostly the same in Japan. However, in 1975, there was only one school of public health in all over Japan. Most of graduate level education of public health was provided in a public health department of each medical school by a professor. Therefore, instead of learning public health systematically under disciplines, I learned it under the sole guidance of my teacher, Prof. Tsuguyoshi Suzuki. This type of learning is an academic apprenticeship. Then, I continued my learning, write papers and got my position as a public health researcher. Therefore, for a long time, it had been difficult for me to identify my work linking to some public health discipline. The turning point came when I attended AERA (American Educational Research Association) conference in 1992 at San Francisco. At that time, several participants came to my poster presentation said “Your work must be based on educational constructivism!” Since then, I gradually realized that the term constructivism fits well to my research/study experience which was triggered by Prof. Suzuki. In the present symposium, I portrayed the process of my learning and research as a narrative, under a constructivistʼs perspective.
Fieldworks of human ecology strategically consist of unbiased observations and collection and analysis of quantitative data for the scientific evaluation of the findings. Adaptation systems of Homo sapiens have been diversified depending on local environmental conditions, thus researchers are required to identify the population-specific system of adaptation. Quantitative evaluation of principal components of adaptation (food production, food consumption and reproduction) enables the integration between field-based sciences and medical sciences. Fieldworks of human ecology will be beneficial for studying human adaptation to aging societies and for widening our understanding for the adaptability of Homo sapiens.