(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

Unconscious Use of Autoethnography via Blogging

I received a direct email reply to my research design work, and there was an interesting question regarding a shift that was identified in my work from a focus on autoethnography (a/e) toward qualitative interviewing.

I do want to focus on autoethnography. However, I think more people are using this method (or some form of this method) in their doctoral / research blog postings than realize it. Some of the people whose work I read are basically doing this without naming it, and I think that for some of them to name it would become more of a legitimacy issue for them than not (my speculation), though in fact that seems to be what they are doing. I am thinking about trying to look at their experiences without trying to explicitly determine if that is what is happening. By focusing on their experiences and seeing what I can learn, I may in the process exploring if there is instead some unconscious use of a/e.

I did not remember how I fell asleep. I did not wake up at night. I just shut off for six hours. I slept! I slept! In my situation, it was very surprising, since Ambien No Prescription sleeping pills are not almost effective for me.

I wonder if autoethnography is used unconsciously quite often?

(Online) Identity in Postmodernity

I am starting to be a little restless with my blog byline recently; perhaps it no longer fits me or I have outgrown it. The wonderful thing about websites is that they can grow and develop with us.

My current one is:

Research and Practice in Postmodern Learning

This combines my educational research focus with my need to integrate my learning with practice, coupled with a worldview that is increasingly postmodern. Now, almost a year into my doctoral studies, with my professional practice filled with project management, teaching, conferences, and publishing; it may be time for a change.

I want something that will integrate my degree focus, E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning, into this, while still allowing for my academic interests in qualitative research designs, autoethnography and narrative inquiry, and transformative learning as an experience in critical identity formation. Having recently been influenced by the term postmodernity in the text Identity in Question, I am considering:

(Online) Identity in Postmodernity

This feels right to me; what do you think?

Learning Journal Postings for PhD, #2

learning-journalI started considering some of the things I learned in yesterday’s posting, and want to continue this work a little more today, this time considering our guiding question, “What really matters in my professional practice?” from a different perspective. I want to consider a bit about what I learned that has changed the way I approach my practice, mindful that my practice involves educational research, adult learning, and project management.

Word and Meaning (Transcription)

I recorded and transcribed my interviews. What I learned in the process is that what people say and what they mean may at times be different. Related, of course, but often what we begin to say and where we ultimately end up may in fact be different. To record and work only with the literal means that the result may appear clunky, awkward, and at times confusing. This then requires some interpretation, or polishing, not so much to push my own desire, but armed with strategies for trustworthiness and those methods that seek to support believability will enhance the findings and make them not only useful, but an interesting read as well.

New Methods to Stretch the Boundaries

Why always do the same forms of research? Comfort and continual improvement for sure, but that fire that excites me as I seek to study similar issues from different perspectives means that I have to stretch and use methods that are new to me. Using other methods to expand my research horizons, I find that I can gather, understand, and expand upon my findings in ways that help me enlarge my worldview. I see some issues in a more complicated and comprehensive way, so that those things I initially saw as monolithic, I now see more in the light of their own complexities. I definately want to expand on my toolkit of methods. If some aspects of life were sufficiently understandable, we would no longer need to research them!  

Reliance on Community (CoP)

I have learned that I am not struggling alone on my doctoral studies, as there are others out there engaged in the same process who are often quite helpful in offering feedback and encouragement. Likewise, there are those who seem interested in my research who are also very supportive of my work. The more I share what I am doing with my online community, and the more I offer feedback and suggestions to other colleagues who share and engage in their own work, the more my own online community of practice around some of these research issues is formed and strengthened.


The more I share my research, perspectives, and struggles with colleagues, the more I get great suggestions and useful insights. Nothing surprising here, but the difference that I am learning is that I do not have to pretend I understand it all, give the impression that I have a handle on my work, or wait to post until everything is clearly formed and finished. Since I am enjoying the process itself, I find that sharing that along the way is most valuable. Being transparent with my own research and meaning-making process often provides as much learning as the formal research itself.

With all this, I am interested to read what my small learning set (a subset of my cohort) has to offer when they comment on these concepts when I share them within our university Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Now that I think of it, the learning that occurs within there, just as the learning that occurs within the Foundations workshop VLE, ultimately finds its way into everything else I do.

Interesting how my life and my research are somewhat connected.

Learning Journal Postings for PhD

reflection.jpgWhile I am busily revising my paper to meet my deadline on Wednesday, there is another assignment that begins on Thursday, one that has been an undercurrent through my work over the past 2 months — my Learning Journal. We were invited to begin consiering the question “What really matters in my professional practice?” by spending 5-10 minutes a day writing about it.

I journaled and reflected on this question with everything I write here on my blog, my public journal I share with a few colleagues and friends who are king enough to stop by and offering some thoughts from time to time.

So, after working through this paper, and thinking about our readings, I will try to draw some of these things together hereas the first step in pulling together some of what I will discuss with my cohort colleagues:

  • the excerpts we read of Donald Schon’s work were not terribly helpful for me–it seems that either people refer to Schon in ways he did not discuss, or I really need to read him more thoroughly and closely.
  • Wenger’s work with communities of practice seem to be a theoretical framework that can be applicable in a wide variety of works. I wonder, though, how organizations really use these without being manipulative (to get more work from people without more expenditures). I suppose I am wondering how these can be used and cultivated within organizations, since I have not really seen many that are organic, rather than organizationally-sponsored.
  • Laurel Richardson’s work really surprised me with how rich it is. It seems that some of my colleagues also found it and Ellis / Bochner’s work valuable, while others did not seem to be able to make heads or tails out of it. I am finding that my thesis (the UK term for dissertation) seems headed down that direction . . .
  • I am beginning to find more value in sharing and collaborating online than I ever have before. It seems my slowly-growing informal network of doctoral support is becoming increasingly valuable to me. As our current module is entitled The Development of Professional Practice, this seems ironically (and completely unexpectedly) fitting.

I am going to review some of our readings, and comment on this a bit more throughout this week.