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.

Whose Autoethnography Is It, Anyway?

self-hidingI am always so appreciative of the insights my (distant) colleague Kip offers, especially when he comments on my blog or Tweets, and otherwise offers such insightful thoughts and words for the wise. His comment earlier today is among the best (thank you, Kip!), and with delicious humor and tongue-in-cheek (or some such), he raises a wonderful point about autoethnographic dissertations. While I already replied to his thoughts here, I do want to clarify my (developing) research direction a bit.

I like the framework of Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (cf, Meyer and Land), as this focuses on forms of learning, as well as Jack Mezirow’s framework of Transformative Learning). I cannot envision I am alone in blogging (Tweeting, etc.) about my worldview shifts and other strong experiences while engaging in my academic work (yes, others do this as well!!). Whether they do this for self-reflection or autoethnographic purposes I am not sure yet, but they do this. I wonder how processing these sorts of experiences affects the concept of self-identity? What does it mean to share this with others and gather their input? To what extent does a sense of community influence the outcome? If done explicitly as an a/e, and if there is other input and sharing / collaboration, whose autoethnography is it, anyway?

I feel my (module’s) research purpose, problem, and question are all very close . . .

Identity Development in Blogging — The Whys and Hows?

As I am starting to get personal, public, and formal academic feedback about my (working and developing) research design (both here on my blog, directly to me, and in my university’s Virtual Learning Environment), I am slowly narrowing it down.

I am thinking about how I work all various elements together (transformative learning, adult education, critical theory, teaching and learning, virtual identity, etc.), and it occurred to me that many of the people I speak with on Twitter and whose blogs I read are all sharing a similar experience to me — we are (or recently were) doctoral (or even graduate) students. I find myself interested in reading those blogs about people who chronicle their research interests, learning, struggles, and journies through graduate and doctoral work.

  • Why do this via a blog?
  • What is learned in the process?
  • How does it feel to be public with your thinking?
  • How do you learn about yourself?
  • Where does this fit with your identity development?
  • What troublesome knowledge do you learn along the way?

I wonder what it would be like to identify and interview some of these folks to inquire what they learned about themselves through blogging their educational experiences, why they did it, and how it influenced their research?

I wonder if there is a research problem and question in here?

Next Research Project Ideas

This is my first foray into sharing my doctoral journey, specifically through my decision to share my 5-10 minutes a day of writing about my process and thinking as per my program’s recommendations in our current module (and which I discussed here and here). I hope that reflecting aloud may be helpful for others who are considering this for themselves—either as a model for what can be done, or as a suggestion for what to avoid (the challenges or the process of sharing here itself).

I have to begin thinking about my research ideas for this module, which is entitled Development of Professional Practice. I really like this concept, and think it is more than fitting that I am developing this practice, and exploring it in my own life, here, where my colleagues (both current and future) can join me on the journey.

As I am beginning to formulate my ideas for this mini-project (around 3800 words, +/- 10%), I am going to consider some of the concepts that interest me, as I think some brainstorming is in order:

  • identity and learning
  • autoethnographic inquiry (both as a researcher and as studied in others who engage in this)
  • exploring various personal identities, and the transition from one to another
  • transformative learning
  • reflective practice related to constructivist / critical frameworks
  • individual identity development and self-definition within communities of practice
  • juggling of identities as a process of personal learning

Will have to play around with these, and see what feedback my cohort offers.

Autoethnography Research Project Proposal ~ Feedback Requested

I have an assignment for my doctoral program that I want to share here and possibly (hopefully) generate some constructive feedback. We have a short period of time for this project / assignment, so I can not take the usual time to work out all the issues before I begin. As I am not accustomed to discussing this early in the process, some suggestions and possible direction for identifying potential participants will be most appreciated.

This project is a small-scale research project that is intended to:

  1. Get some experience doing what we have been studying, namely research itself
  2. Write about educational research methods after using some of them
  3. Set personal learning objectives and then reflect on how they were met

I have never publicly discussed this process before I have it completed, and as my program at Lancaster University in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning focuses on participatory and networked learning, I thought I will work with my tutor and colleagues in the cohort as well as share this experience here on my blog.

While this is intended to be an original piece of research, it is within the context of a class, so the (proposed) research headings are slightly different than a pure research paper. 

Working Title
Educational Explorations of Autoethnographic Inquiry: A Tale of 2 Teachers

Research Problem
Autoethnography is increasingly used as a research method, pushing the boundaries of qualitative inquiry by focusing on a phenomenon in the life of the researcher as the central aspect of study, and publishing the findings as a cultural critique. With online technologies making the entire research process more transparent and potentially interactive, the process and research intentions themselves may be explored more fully, as the steps can be studied as part of the process, rather than by looking only at the final, published product. Little is known about what the researcher learns and wants his or her readers to learn within the process of autoethnographic research.

Literature Review
This will focus on autoethnographic inquiry, what it is, why it is done, and what is learned through it. I am planning to focus around the work of Carolyn Ellis, Art Bochner, Deborah Reed-Danahay, and Jean Clandinin and Michael Connelly.

Purpose & Research Design
The purpose of this case study is to understand the intentions and learnings of researchers who engage in autoethnographic inquiry. This will be a qualitative research design, with a constructivism philosophical worldview. The strategy of inquiry will be case study. The research methods will be interview.

There are no expected ethical issues in this research. Participants will remain anonymous, with fictitious names being used and the transcripts from the research secured in my password-protected computer.

This research is important to me because I am interested in learning more about how autoethnography can be used as a method in online and distance education, particularly for its seeming relationship with reflective practice and transformative learning. This is part of a large research interest of mine, which I am seeking to begin exploring in this smaller research project. I hope to better understand this to ultimately help improve the effectiveness of online teaching and learning practice.

As this is an exploratory case study, there will be 2 people interviewed for this research. I will reach out to my network of colleagues and distribution lists to locate 2 people who have published autoethnographic inquiries (I have not actively looked for potential participants yet). Interviews will be conducted over the phone. Open-ended interview questions will be used:

  1. Why did you choose to use autoethnographic inquiry?
  2.  Who is your intended audience?
  3. What intentions did you have for your readers?
  4. What role did technology play in your research?
  5. What did you learn in the process of this autoethnographic inquiry?
  6. If you were to conduct further autoethnographic inquiry, what would you do differently?

Interview results will be hand-transcribed and sent back to the participants for their review and approval.

Data Analysis
I will look for themes between the results; though need to develop this section more (for possible hand-coding?).

Findings and Next Steps

Personal Learnings
I will explore what I learned in doing this research project. I do need to develop personal learning objectives, though am not sure about the format for them and how many are realistic given the time and scope limitations.

Listed as used.