Public Transformations . . . almost done . . .

I am nearly finished with the DRAFT of my Public Transformations paper, which is due tomorrow. I do feel confident that my Introduction (with the research problem, significance, and purpose statement) is clear and concise.This is among the more important parts of the paper, and I think I was finally able to articulate it in an interesting and inviting way.

rough-draftI have been increasingly anxious about the due date, how long the paper is taking, and how a lot of loose ends will simply not get resolved by tomorrow. Nevertheless, I started telling myself over and over that this is a draft, and I will get feedback from two of my peers, after which I will revise for the faculty review and assessment (as well as for a conference abstract I am thinking about). So, while I must submit this by tomorrow, I will still be working on it over the next few weeks (with the FINAL version due on March 8).

So, exhausted and with achy (from typing) arms, I am about to submit the result of all my efforts. Wonder if this is what the thesis (UK) / dissertation (US) is like? Will see THAT one soon enough.

Research Method Ideas for the Project

As I have generally received positive feedback for the “ambitious” direction I am headed (regarding the research project that I have been designing here over the past few weeks), I now want to think a bit about the method I am considering for this work, especially before I tighten up the problem and research question.

I was initially planning to use  phenomenography, though think that may not work due to the size limitations of the expected 3 participants, the limitations to the semi-structured interview questions I need to use (as phenomenography would require me to rigidly use the same questions with everybody–leading to the eventual categories), and given that I am not sure I will be able to categorize much as this is an exploratory study.

I am now thinking about using some form of ethnography, something that blends the ethnography of Wittel with that of Hines and Efimova, perhaps in a more Focused manner, similar to that detailed by Knoblauch. I expect to conduct interviews and possibly review blogs or other social media as examples of the participants’ work, as needed. I will get more specific here as a next step, after I (hopefully) get some feedback first.

Revised (In-Process) Research Purpose

I have been plugging away at this, and think it is finally in a condition to be shared. While undoubtedly still in need of tightening, I can no longer see it clearly as I have been wordsmithing it since Sunday. Thoughts and suggestions are really appreciated. How can I tighten this research project proposal for my class?

Research Problem
The ways people develop as researchers has been studied, though there is limited understanding of how this occurs through the use of social media. With the rise of virtual ethnography and content analysis, more of what is written and communicated online can be studied, though this often appears in final form, and does not necessarily help understand the steps and thresholds achieved during the course of study. Even through studying the blogs or microblogs of those who track and develop their research in process, it can be challenging to understand the moments when some transformational experience and its subsequent understanding occurs in the academic growth of those engaged in graduate or doctoral research studies. Educational researchers need to better understand the experiences of adult learners who recognize when they have made significant perspective or paradignmatic shifts in their academic thinking, as this may help in designing learning experiences to assist future learners who will continue to use social media in their academic work.

Research Question
What is the experience of adult learners who develop their academic research understanding through the use of social media, such as blogging or microblogging?

The purpose of this research is to understand how adult learners navigate through their growth in understanding research through using social media as tools for reflectivity, self-expression, feedback, and collaboration. Using the frameworks of threshold concepts and transformative learning, I want to explore how they are processed by those who use engage in their work in a public space where identity development takes place in a more transparent manner than learning has done before.

(VERY) Rough Draft of My Research Design

Here is my (very rough) working (initial) research design. None of the elements are clear or tight enough yet; this is primarily shared here for proof of concept. I expect this to be refined and cleaned up / developed after initial feedback and my ongoing processing this week. Any feedback is appreciated.

Title (Working)
Public Transformations: Adult Learners Who Use Social Media to Express and Understand Their Experiences


With the rise of social media, more of what used to be learned, thought, and experienced in private is now engaged in publicly. As blogging and microblogging, to name only 2 of the countless forms of social media and social networking, increase, educators need to better understand how these are being used by learners, especially in regard to the more challenging content areas and concepts within the various social sciences.

Research Problem

  • There is a lot of research around threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge, as well as Transformative Learning. While much of this exists within adult education and higher education, we do not know much about how this has been affected by the increase in social media, primarily within blogging and microblogging. With adult learners increasingly sharing their experiences and stories around their learning in a public space, educators need to know more about how threshold concepts or disorienting dilemmas lead to significant perspective or paradigmatic change.


  • The purpose of this research is to understand how these troubling experiences are understood and processed in a public space, where identity development takes place in a more transparent manner than learning has done before. Furthermore, the more that is know about this area, the better instructors can encourage and promote significant, personal learning within their students.

Literature Review
Litertatures to be reviewed include threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (especially Meyer and Land), transformative learning (especially Mezirow, Brookfield, and Cranton), and how these may relate to blogging or social media.

Research Design

Philosophical Worldview

  • Critical Constructivism

Theoretical Lens

  • Threshold concepts and transformative learning

Research Questions

  1. Describe an experience you had while engaging in your academic studies where you experienced a transformed way of understanding, interpreting, or viewing something.
  2. How did you express or share this using social media?
  3. Describe your experience and what you learned during this process.
Strategy of Inquiry

  • The strategy of inquiry will be phenomenography

Research Method

  • 2-3 participants will be identified by posting this research design on my own blog, requesting my own network if they can spread the request for interviewees, and distributed to various email qualitative distribution lists. Phone interviews will be used and recorded.

Data Collection
Data will be collected via recorded phone interviews

Analysis and Interpretation
The interviews will be transcribed and coded to develop and categorize the experiences of the participants

Reliability, Validity, and Generalizability
  • TBD


  • TBD

Next steps

  • TBD

Conclusion / Learnings

  • TBD

Research Project Outline / Headings

As I am nearing a proposal for my research project (which I hope to have later today for feedback), I am now turning some attention to one of the more anxiety-causing elements of a research project — the outline / headings used in the paper.

This is the organizational structure which is used as an outline, and into which I feed the sp