The Mikado again

And, they're off!

Category: Research Methods

withdrawal (or shell shock)

I finished my final blog post, and all I could think of was, “Have I done everything? I think I might have forgotten to do something. Was I supposed to include a reference list on that final blog post? Better check the course outline, AGAIN (for the twentieth time). I’d better go back through my published blogs…let’s see, one for each class for each week, that’s 6. One presentation and one blog for each, that’s 8. One final blog post, that’s 9. Is that it? Better check again. Did I actually publish those posts, or are they still in draft form? No, I did publish them. Hmm…I guess…I’m done. Weird. Wait! I didn’t comment on enough other posts! Is it too late? Probably. Or not. I’ll do it tomorrow. Or now. Tomorrow. Maybe.”

Okay, just stop. Let it go. Get on with your summer.

Update. It’s 2am (really!) and I feel like Lawrence’s reference to HAL: I am a short-circuiting robot who is overheating from too much data and not enough storage, and my output is getting garbled. I am spitting out random words like (think old monotone computer voice…not Alexa) phenomenology…ethics…computer cat…autoethnography…inquiry…inquiry…inquiry…seamless…4Rs…breakout room…PLN…doodle poll…Trevor’s ceiling…Trellodiigohypothes.isslackzoterotwitterbluejeansfeedlywordpress…tiegrad…………..tiegr…….tie…t. Goodbye Dave.

How do I unplug this thing?

Final Blog Post…well not FINAL Final, but for the summer.

Reflections on EDCI 515 and EDCI 568: A Culinary Analogy

An illustration of how the last three weeks have gone may be seen in reference to food. That is, for twelve class sessions we as students have been treated to two complete meals (with appetizer, main course, and dessert) each day. Each of the EDCI 515 and 568 menus has followed a particular theme, distinct from each other, and each menu consisted of a variety of dishes from its theme, from hot and spicy, to savoury, to sweet, to occasionally bland (in a good way). 🙂

“Superior sushi set” by jeremydeades is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Each day, we were treated and were asked to eat each meal, to go home to digest, and to prepare for the meal the next day by studying the next day’s recipes. At the end of each day we felt stuffed full of yummy food, perhaps wanting to let the flavours linger on our taste buds, but knowing that we had to be ready for the next day’s offerings.

By the end of the first week or so, we came to realize that we were really only supposed to sample the meals, not to eat them entirely every time. Our bodies could not possibly recover in time to eat two more complete meals again each day, so we learned to appreciate each meal for what it was, to write a review of the food, and to move on.

At the end, we were asked to reflect on how those meals contributed to our understanding of meal preparation and to look forward to how we might prepare our own meal. Would it be spicy? Savoury? Salty? Sweet? A mixture? Some already know what that meal will look like. Others have no idea, but are getting closer. Since each person’s meal will not be served for about 18 months, we have lots of time to prepare, but we are cautioned not to leave that menu item preparation until the last minute. It will take time to gather the ingredients, do the prep work of chopping, slicing and dicing, and to assemble the right utensils for the type of dish we are preparing. We look forward to the smorgasbord, and hope it is to your liking.

EDCI 515 and EDCI 568

photo used with permission – yes that’s me

The scientist in all of us likes to see positive results from our experiments. We like to put our theories into practice, to test our hypotheses and observe the effects. When it comes to education and education theories, it is no different. In the classroom a teacher may wonder, “If I try this activity, will students understand the concept better? Will it produce better result on assessments? Can I observe mastery of the skill?” and then test the theory, and track the results. If the results are not positive, the teacher may not do that activity again, or modify it to better address what hindered student achievement.

The difficulty with the scientific method is that it is not always appropriate for the type of questions being asked. If the question is “Which activity will allow student A to understand the concept better?” then the experiment and results look very different. Results may not apply to any other student, so no definitive conclusion may be made regarding the “right” activity a teacher might use.

How does this relate to me? I have my feet firmly planted in both camps. I often think of an activity, try it out in class, and decide whether it yielded the results I expected. The results further inform my use of that activity or approach. On the other hand (foot), I also guide students through the process of exploring their interests in a topic to find the connections to the course contents. One approach is not “better” than the other; they each have strengths and weaknesses, depending on what the question being asked is.

Perhaps, as we have seen in our look at different methodology, a mixed methods approach is appropriate for me. Or at the very minimum, using both methods independently, according to the situation. As I have noted before, with a background in psychology I am acutely aware that when dealing with humans and studies on human behaviour or thinking, achieving 1.0 correlation of data is impossible – unless it is biologically rooted, like whether humans can survive without blood. So the take-away is that even the most successful theories of education will apply to most (if that) of the population. It would be a disservice to our students for all teachers to use the same approach, regardless of what the research says. Unless that research on a particular approach to learning comes in at 1.0 correlation, it is not the answer for all. So as teacher-researcher, I must be aware that in a given time with a particular group of students, I aim to get the best out of each one, knowing that some methods will work better than others. At the same time, there will be factors out of my control, for example home life or misuse of drugs (especially in high school), that will prevent that student from engaging even if the methodology is perfect for them.

What I see moving forward is that in the pursuit of a Master’s of Education I will need to investigate research methodology more deeply first, then look to the one that best addresses the questions whose answers I am pursuing. At the moment I see qualitative study as the approach best suited to the question I am looking at right now. That is, “What role does school climate or connectedness have to play in students’ academic success or social engagement at school?”

EDCI 515

In looking at phenomenology as a research approach, I began to see my own research question framed by a phenomenological point of view. Perhaps, as I initially looked for research that produced causality, I was doing the “square peg, round hole” type of thinking; trying to push my research question into a quantitative framework that was not the right fit. As I read more and more about phenomenology, I came to understand that that was the square hole into which my square peg was fitting. However, even though methodologically this was a better fit, I am left to answer the question that my research poses: So what? Qualitative research yields results, but what do you do with that information? If hypothetically my research yields results that say that teacher-student relationships greatly contribute to a feeling of school connectedness, what is to be done with that information? That is, so what? If I decide to try to make my interactions with students better so they have an increased connection to the school, how important is that? By what measure do I consider what is “important”? Are grades important? Is attendance? Is participation? Is long-term attitude towards life-long learning? Yes, the results are informative, but again, so what? Am I researching for research’s sake? How does this inform my practice?

What may be necessary is a reframing of the question including a different demographic of subjects. Rather than looking at subjects who are in school, it may be better served to interview subjects who are in their 20s or 30s, asking them to reflect on their connectedness in high school and how that impacted their current lives. This keeps the qualitative nature of the research but tries to address the influence in the long term, outside of the direct high school experience itself.

EDCI 568

The central question that Jeff Hopkins and Trevor Mackenzie have looked at answering is, “How do we design learning around the student instead of the teacher?” For Jeff Hopkins the answer was, after trying with limited success within the system, to go outside of the system and to literally construct a school that addressed that question. For Trevor Mackenzie, the answer was to stay within the system and look at learning design within the confines of the structure that is in place. At the heart of both approaches is Inquiry-Based Learning, which gives students ownership over their process. While the concept of inquiry as methodological approach is not new (John Dewey, 1938), it has gained momentum as educators look to make learning more individualized. Given that I am a teacher in the public education system, radical changes such as Jeff Hopkins has made, cannot be made at my level; those are structural, at an administration, senior administration, or Ministry of Education level. What I can implement is at Trevor Mackenzie’s level: in my individual classroom.

As noted in the above section, like all approaches, it is not a one-size-fits-all methodology. It has its benefits, but when dealing with humans, it may work for many, but not all, or at least all the time. Given that, it is a tool to use when it suits the time and the students. For educators, it is vital to consider using this approach because it has clear benefits to student learning, and I will use this information to guide future projects in my classes.

The other major side of the course load included a focus on engaging with the digital world of education. One of the biggest take-aways from this focus was a heightened awareness of the rights and responsibilities of education online. Having taught the New Media 10 course, in hindsight I did not do my due diligence in preparing students (or myself) on FIPPA or BC’s Digital Framework as an introduction to the course.  This is not limited to the New Media 10 course, as students and teachers need to know that any assignment or project that requires their presence online must keep those guidelines in mind.

photo used with (my) permission

Regarding that last point, in my blog submissions for these courses, after seeing the dangers of overstepping privacy concerns, I made decisions not to include images or video that might identify students or staff. As a result, the blog posts look quite sterile; devoid of personality. I could add creative commons images or video, but I still regard them as devoid of personality, or at least a personal touch. So the result is a “better safe than sorry” approach that, while cautious and better than heedless, is legitimately constrained. I leave the personal touch to wearing costumes. 🙂

515 Presentation and Critical Reading of One Course Reading

Max van Manen and Phenomenology

Biography

Born in the Netherlands in 1942, Max van Manen received his teaching qualifications before emigrating to Canada and to Edmonton, Alberta in 1967, at 25 years of age. He taught in the Edmonton Public School system and continued with post-graduate study, receiving his MEd in 1971, and PhD in 1973 in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He married and became a Canadian citizen also in 1973.

Professionally, Dr. Van Manen is now a professor emeritus, having retired in 2008 after 35 years from his three years at the University of Toronto from 1973-76, and at the University of Alberta from 1976-2008. He also was directly connected to UVic in the 1980s and 90s as a visiting professor, teaching the summer graduate program in the Faculty of Education.

Dr. van Manen’s focus on phenomenology continued in some form for the rest of his research career. He began with the idea of researching “lived experience.” The next phase was marked by a focus on pedagogical reflections, thoughtfulness and tact, linking the practice of research and the practice of writing. Phase three focused on identity and inwardness through the process of writing. This led to the culmination of his focus, which was the phenomenology of writing. The last two phases maintained the writing focus, but turned towards the burgeoning world of the internet and the new “world” of writing, and the “The unsuspected power of written words, in virtual space, to create complex and meaningful interpersonal relations,” (https://www.maxvanmanen.com/biography/).

What is phenomenology?

Phenomenology is a philosophical term that aims to describe behaviour in the now, as lived experience. It does not seek to look for cause or to have preconceptions but to examine the human experience as it is. When there is interpretation of that “phenomena” it becomes hermeneutic phenomenology, and when it is descriptive, it is transcendental phenomenology.

How might this look in more concrete terms?

Phenomenological methodology relies mostly on interviews with participants. The type of research question would be asking what the participant’s experience is with the topic being studied as it can be determined through the responses to the interview, or through looking at what is written down, like in a blog or tweet.

In our chat with, and readings of, George Veletsianos, we might see his article, “Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse: Self-protection, resistance, acceptance, and self-blame,” (Veletsianos, Houlden, Hodson, & Gosse, 2006) as an example of phenomenological methodology. He was examining the experience of online harassment of female scholars through interviews. This qualitative study also used few participants, another aspect of phenomenological research. Importance is placed not on whether there is a change in behaviour or how different variables affect the outcome of the participants’ behaviour, but rather, to discover what themes might be extrapolated from the interviews as an examination of the participants’ experience with harassment.

 

Chosen research article:

School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High School Students

Shay M. Daily, PhD, MPH, MCHES  Michael J.Mann, PhD Alfgeir L. Kristjansson, PhD Megan L. Smith, PhD Keith J. Zullig,MSPH, PhD,FAAHB, FASHA

 

This study focused on a large sample (n=2405) of students whose academic achievement, measured by self-reported grades in the previous year’s Math and English courses, was compared with their level of school climate, using the School Climate Measure (SCM). The SCM is reported to have validity, “across several geographically diverse populations, including important demographic characteristics such as students age, sex, race, grade-level, ethnicity, and self-reported grade point average (GPA)” (Zullig KJ, Collins R, Ghani N, et al., 2015).

As stated, the purpose of the study was, “to determine the associations between the SCM domains and academic achievement among middle and high school students” (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019). The hypotheses were there would be a significant association with the SCM domains and academic achievement, although a difference would occur between middle and high school students, and secondly, that Non-academic factors, including biological sex, mother’s education, and family structure would significantly interact with achievement.

In collecting the data, students anonymously filled out a 262-item questionnaire which took 30-45 minutes to complete. Students were free to answer all or part of the survey, and to opt out at any time.

In discussing the results of the study, the data analysis suggested that middle and high school students who reported positive levels of school climate also reported higher academic performance. The highest factor of the SCM domains for both middle and high school students was Academic Support.

In pointing out the study’s limitations, there was acknowledgement that the schools’ demographic populations were predominantly white, and that the data on grades was self-reported, which may contain recall bias.

Concluding remarks focused on a breakdown of the discrete domains of the SCM to better see how individually identified factors such as Academic Support can better serve students in achieving higher academic success.

Phenomenological approach to this study: How and Why would it look different?

From a phenomenological perspective, the research question that the chosen article asks would change from, “Is there a connection between school climate and academic achievement in middle and high school students?” to, “What are your middle and high school experiences regarding school climate?” The data to be collected would shift from the predetermined SCM domains to an examination of the themes that result from the participants answering the question. This shift is a result of the phenomenological perspective of examining the lived experience; that is, the students’ experience with school climate. The results of the themes or factors that can be isolated can then be checked for correlation to academic achievement post hoc.

Changes

For the researcher – in the original study, the researchers hypothesize that there would be a positive correlation between school climate and academic achievement based on the School Climate Measure and self-reported grades in English and Math.

The phenomenological researcher – the phenomenological researcher must not be looking for cause or come with preconceptions about the outcome. It is in the interpretation of the data about the students’ experience that the researcher analyzes.

For the research – the original research, while trying to determine factors predetermined by the School Climate Measure, also looked at three predetermined non-academic factors of biological sex, mother’s education, and family structure. As a quantitative study, emphasis is on whether factors are statistically significant, and by how much.

Phenomenological research is qualitative in that it describes rather than quantifies, so this study would not be able to process 2405 participants’ responses. The number of participants would need to decrease down to ten to twenty since it would be likely that patterns would emerge at that point which would make further interviews redundant. As well, as the questioning would be more open-ended, a phenomenological approach would not likely result in easily categorized responses.

For the researched – the original participants were given much leeway in the completion of the questionnaire in that they did not have to answer all the questions and could opt out at any time. With a 262-item questionnaire, the types of questions would likely not require much depth of thoughtfulness in response or it would take hours instead of the 30-45 minutes in the study.

The Researched in a phenomenological setting would remain as the demographic but the type of engagement in the gathering of data would require participants who would need to respond with thought and care. Questions would be fewer, but responses would be longer.

For the reader – the original article would, as the authors stated, be useful for policy makers in determining how to allocate funds to improve school climate to address academic achievement. As well, for stakeholders such as teachers, students and parents, the results may guide practice for teachers, guide student involvement in school affairs, and guide parents in encouraging their children’s connection to the school.

Phenomenologically, the same readers would benefit, from the policy makers to the stakeholders, but as the information would not easily be transferable, the interpretation for this group of participants may not look the same for another group in another part of the country or different ethnic, economic, gender, or other defining feature of the group.

Questions/Insights

What began as a struggle to conceptualize the term, “phenomenology,” only gained clarity as the writing of this assignment progressed. Many of the explanations of the term only seemed to wrap around themselves, with definitions like, “Phenomenology is the study of phenomena.” The best explanations tend to either bring the vocabulary down to lay terms or use real life examples that are relatable. Once I realized that I could use Dr. Veletsianos’s article from earlier in the class, it brought the term within reach.

At the same time, I still struggled with some of the examples and the research that Dr. van Manen used, especially as it pertained to online writing. I would need to immerse myself in the study or to watch the study being conducted (which is phenomenological in a way, as I observe the lived experience).

References

Daily, S. M., Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Smith, M. L., & Zullig, K. J. (2019). School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High

School Students. Journal of School Health, 89(3), 173–180. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12726

Manen, M. V. (2007). Phenomenology of Practice. Phenomenology & Practice, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.29173/pandpr19803

Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/research_ready/phenomenology/methods_data

Phenomenology Online » Hermeneutical Phenomenology. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

https://www.phenomenologyonline.com/inquiry/orientations-in-phenomenology/hermeneutical-phenomenology/

Researching Lived Experience: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy by Max van Manen, London, ON: Althouse Press, 1. (n.d.).

Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

            https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?     

            q=cache:6DQHT015_gAJ:https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/pandp/index.php/pandp/article/view/15124/11945+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=

             clnk&gl=ca

Van Manen, M., & Adams, C. (2009). The Phenomenology of Space in Writing Online. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41(1), 10–21.

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00480.x

Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S., Hodson, J., & Gosse, C. (2018). Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse: Self-protection,

resistance, acceptance, and self-blame. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4689–4708. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818781324

515 Week 3 Shorter, but full of yummy bits!

Intended to limit this to one focal point, but just had an epiphany (Saturday morning as I ate my cereal) so it is maybe one and a half points.

Film – Kitchen Stories – The first consideration to acknowledge is the obvious: this is a movie. It is a construct with actors playing roles, not a documentary with real people. Even so, as a representation of real life and an ethnographic sample of that culture, much can be gleaned, even though it is a construct. That aside, it would be interesting to read some reviews by native Norwegians or Swedes as to its representation and interpretation of the people and cultures.

What I took away from this movie is its focus on phenomenology and the problems therein. It is like a movie on a utopian society that reveals that utopia is impossible to attain. Phenomenology in human terms may be “truly” impossible to attain, especially in modern times. I say in modern times because we live in a world of consent, and that implies that the subject of study knows that he or she is being studied. That in and of itself contaminates the phenomenological nature of empirically studying human behaviour. This is the obvious comedic and ultimately tragic message of the movie. That is, Folke the observer, has influenced the outcome of the study by his presence in Isak’s kitchen. Isak no longer behaves “naturally” because he is conscious of being watched. So what is the point of studying and tracking single men’s movements in the kitchen when the men alter their behaviour because the observer is present? What possible conclusions can be made from the study’s original hypothesis? As Malmberg, the supervisor notes in frustration, if the observer talks to the subject, it derails the study. In the end, Ljungberg the research head sees that there may be other uses of the data collected, so the data takes the researchers in a different direction.

In terms of the four Rs, how does this relate?

The Research – The movie presented a Swedish study of Norwegian single men’s movements in the kitchen, presumably to compare against their data on Swedish women’s movements in the kitchen. The outcome was to inform the researchers on how to design a kitchen more efficiently so that less time and energy was spent moving around the kitchen space. This approach was phenomenological in nature in that its intention was to study “ordinary” life.

The Researcher – As researcher, this comes across as both a “how-not-to,” as well as a phenomenological, “slice-of-life” portrait of the realities of research. It literally brings to life what may lie behind the words and numbers on the pages of research studies. The abstract, advanced statistics and raw data of the studies have a very concrete, human component to them. We must look at the author, who in this case is Ljungberg. What is his background? Why is he doing this study?

The Researched – of the Norwegian men in the study, we only see Isak. We are presented with a figure who is hermit-like in his isolation, both physically on a farm by himself, as well as psychologically from other people. He interacts with one other person: Grant, with whom we see has a limited verbal interaction. While he has volunteered for the study, we find out that he did so only because they researchers promise to give him a horse at the end of the study. At the beginning he is clearly a reluctant participant. By altering his behaviour during the study, he negates the usefulness of the data gathered for its intended purpose.

The Reader – or viewer. As stated in class, the primary audience would be Norwegians or Swedes. They would be the best judges of whether this movie represented their typical cultural past (the 1950s) as well as the typical personalities and representations of relationships and attitudes. While we in North America may be able to relate to the human nature of the characters, we would miss a lot of the references and historical background and attitudes the Norwegians and Swedes have built over the centuries. However, as we look at the film’s examination of humanity in the world of science and experiments, it is not necessary to know all of the background to still come to some conclusions. What we learn is not exclusive to those who come from those countries. As the movie highlights the dangers and difficulties of research, we as viewers and ersatz researchers reflect on how that applies to both our own observations, as well as those whose studies we read and critique.

A realization – It occurred to me as I reflected on the different speakers we had this week for both 515 and 568, that Dr. Shauneen Pete and Jeff Hopkins had similar paths in different areas. Dr. Pete’s goal was to change the system from within, to reimagine the Indigenous curriculum and ways of teaching pre-service teachers. The challenge being to begin a wholesale change to a system that is very entrenched. Jeff Hopkins’s initial goal was to change the education system from within to make it more student-centred than teacher-centred. For both, a bit of the irresistible force meeting an immovable object. In the end, both found the object immovable, and decided to go over or around it.

515 Week 2 – Warning! I wrote a lot… :)

Monday, July 8

Reading – Lewin’s chapter on quantitative data.

Guest – Matt from the library.

Reading – I rewrote the reading in a Word document so that it looked more like notes. Did a lot of indenting to create subcategories! Of course the article is given at this point to inform all of our critical look at studies for the next two years. In the grander scheme of things, this was a Coles notes version so that we can have a rudimentary understanding of statistics. Like everything we have been given so far, we are getting a basic foundation, and as time goes on, this will deepen according to our focus. The chapter itself is written well enough, and the key terms are italicized, which helps in notetaking.

Having taken stats classes 30-something years ago, I am used to the terminology, but much of it has lain dormant.  Some of it I truly have forgotten or didn’t remember the first time round. At the end of the day, what I have come to understand this week is that we don’t have time to absorb everything we read or are told, but at the same time, we are not expected to absorb it all…yet. With two, two-hour classes every day, chock-full of information, it is just enough that we keep up in the moment.  No time to think, because the next day will add more to our plates. But that is okay. There will be time later to let it all sink in; no need for us to expect ourselves to figure it all out right now.

Guest – Case in point: Matt from the library. In going through all of the benefits of Zotero, I managed to eventually keep up with him. This was not easy, as I had to flag him down numerous times to get unstuck. He helped every time, and I got through successfully. Do I remember how I did it all? Absolutely not. I came home to try going back to the site to play around, and could not remember much. Luckily he gave us his powerpoint presentation of the tutorial, so I can go back another time. Again, in the end the purpose was not to have us be proficient at using Zotero, but to know that it exists, and to see that it has some cool tools and features.

As for the program itself, it comes as advertised. Matt loves it, and in demonstrating its capabilities, it would be hard to argue his point. Someone with some basic knowledge of Zotero can save a lot of time; that is usually spent on formatting.  We’ll see how much that affects us at this level, but it is valuable information to hear someone say, “I wish this program existed when I was doing my post-grad degree!”

Reflection – While statistical methodology is important to know from a global perspective, its practical use in my English or Japanese classroom is minor. Having said that, in my English classes I often use a very simple example of statistics when I talk about a writer using words to change the atmosphere or mood of a written piece.  On the board, I write the following: W W W W W W W L L L. I then talk about sports reporting. I tell the students that while many people will say that numbers don’t lie, and that is true, statistics can reveal what you want them to reveal. A writer who wants to sound positive will say, “The Blue Jays have won 7 of the last 10 games!” A writer who wants to sound negative will say, “The Blue Jays are on a three game losing streak.” So how a writer wants you to feel can be changed even though it is the exact same set of data. Simple analogy, but gives students pause for thought.

Tuesday July 9

Reading – Public Comment Sentiment on Educational Videos; Women Scholars’ Experiences with Online Harassment and Abuse; optional – A Posthumanist Critique of Flexible Online Learning and its “Anytime Anyplace” Claims

Guests – Rich McCue, George Veletsianos

Readings – Many questions arose in reading the two required articles (the third I didn’t read, although I will later). Of course I had the opportunity to ask one question to Dr. Veletsianos directly when he linked into our video feed. The question I had pertained to the number of factors that might affect the results he found, even as he acknowledged them himself in the article (TED talk article).  That is, he identified three factors that influenced the results: gender, live vs animated, and topic. Just those three factors result in six scenarios. What happens when you insert race, or age, as an example, into the factors? It becomes very difficult to isolate variables when you have so many factors.

Guests – Rich came to introduce Excel and its functions for data entry. With five double-sided pages of notes for us, it was an Excel for Dummies introduction. The instructions were clear and well laid out, so I am confident that I can get through on my own. I made it through the first two pages, knowing that I would be going over it again, as well as the other eight pages, at home.

One of the many nuggets of information that Dr. Thom highlights is about a researcher’s background. How does knowing about the researcher affect what we interpret in the findings? Dr. Thom argues that it is very important. So, how did it affect me that we could see and hear and get feedback from a living, breathing researcher? The very one whose studies we just read? Clearly we were profoundly positively impacted by the opportunity to ask questions. Finding out about Dr. Veletsianos’s life growing up, as well as his family and how that has directed his research gave some context to why he studied what he did. This did not preclude his ability to tackle other topics, but it gave some understanding of why he studied what he did.

Reflection – When we are studying Shakespeare, I try to get students to see him as a real person, like them.  Of course there are theories around who really wrote the plays and what Shakespeare was really like. but that I leave for another discussion! I ask students to imagine that there had to have been times when he was just tired, and got a bit lazy in his writing.  Maybe it was late at night, and he’d been writing all day, and his candle was about to burn out, and he just wanted to go to bed. He might have been wanting to finish up a line before going to bed. He was working on Romeo and Juliet and had gotten to the scene when the nurse finds Juliet, “dead.” He knows that he needs ten syllables to keep her lines iambic pentameter, but just can’t think of the perfect words. So he writes, “O woe? O woeful, woeful, woeful day!” (IV.v. 52) and then, “O day! O day! O day! O hateful day!” (IV.v. 55) Maybe he is thinking, “Ah, I can’t be bothered! Good enough,” and then goes to sleep. Why is this important? I do this to “humanize” this historical figure, so that the students may interpret the plays as actual writing and not from the hand of God through Shakespeare. At the same time, we look at 16th Century England and the change of monarchy in 1603, right in the middle of Shakespeare’s writing period. We look at Holinshed’s Chronicles to see what storylines Shakespeare lifted to write his plays. As previously stated, it all helps to shape what we read.

Wednesday July 10

Reading – Assessing The Quality Of Mixed Methods Research: Toward A Comprehensive Framework

Reading – This reading was interesting, mostly because it was quite recent. What I mean by that is that the main claim and impetus for writing the article was that there was no “comprehensive framework” for mixed methods research. That information surprised me, because I expected that for something as important as having a standard set of criteria to assess the quality of mixed methods research, it would have been decided on long ago. The fact that the studies referenced are mostly from 2003-2010 shows that this has only recently been undertaken.

In trying to conceptualize a mixed methods approach, I came back to one of our first topics: Autoethnography. I see the two halves of the word divided also by type of research method. The auto(biographical) part lends itself to qualitative research, and the ethnographical part more to the quantitative.

Guest – no “guest,” but Heidi was the speaker of our group to report on her interpretation of the article, as well as her own reflections. She professed that she was stuck on the overlap between the writer, O’Cathain, and Tashakkori and Teddlie. There seemed to be reciprocal references that to her, indicated mutual support and bias for each other. This can be difficult to separate, but as Dr. Thom noted in class, this sometime cannot be avoided when a researcher’s own area is the same as a leading researcher. As O’Cathian aims to build on Tashakkori and Teddlie’s research, it is difficult not to either agree with or cite each others’ work.

Reflection – In thinking about mixed methods research, my initial reaction in trying to find context to make it personal was the reading on autoethnography. What came to mind was a paper I wrote for my teaching professional year course, History of Education in Canada.  I sought permission to write about the education of the Japanese-Canadian children in B.C. during World War II. While my paper was more of an examination of the schooling itself, I think it would have lent itself to an autoethnographical study had I looked at the case study of my parents and compared their experience to their local population, and then to the entire population of Japanese-Canadian children, versus the general population of children in B.C. as a whole. In order to make it truly autobiographical, I might have looked at the children born post-war, like I did, who grew up in a very different Canada than our parents.

Thursday July 11

Reading – Scholars Before Researchers by D. Boote & P. Beile (2005)

Guest – Pia from the library

Reading – The intent of the article is clear: do a proper literature review before doing research.  It was difficult to escape the paternalistic tone of, “Come on, people! Listen up!” that came from the introduction. The tone and writing changes slightly after that to be more academic in nature, but the direction is already set. Even in writing, “When considering the criteria and standards used to evaluate a dissertation, we need to keep in mind that most people with doctorates in education do not go on to pursue research careers. Most teach, administer, or lead (Passmore, 1980),” (p.4) the inference is that that doctoral candidate is not as dedicated to rigour. Or that the doctoral candidate’s supervisors have lower standards, because presumably, they allowed the dissertation to be accepted. This statement is problematic. No doubt a proper literature review lays the foundation for the research, but Boote and Beile risk falling into their own trap by citing Alton-Lee’s statistics. To be fair, there were two other studies cited, but to include the small sample of Alton-Lee’s without comparable statistics from fields outside of education, this presents a poor example of statistical relevance.

Guest – This was a refresher from our introduction on July 4. Pia went through a demonstration of narrowing our searches. I remember from her first visit that she used the threshold of ~200 results, and as I searched for articles, I tried to adhere to that standard. It was helpful, although understandably, there was still a lot of sifting through even the most basic descriptions of the studies, to find something applicable. This again, was intended to be an introduction to searching the library database. Three things I took away from this session were: not to check the “Discipline” box, but rather, the “Subject” box; that we should expect to book 30 minutes with Pia when we are prepping for our project; and that as good as Zotero is, it is most useful for doctoral students, where there may be hundreds of references and citations, rather than the tens that we may be dealing with.

Reflection – Certainly on a smaller scale, at the high school level we expect students to be able to do basic research papers and academic writing at more of the grade 12 level. Below grade 12 students are still working on proper grammar and essay writing, so it requires a dedicated unit to teach about academic writing and APA format. This is not to say that it is not worth doing, and with high school students it is easier than with primary or elementary, but it is difficult to make the topic “interesting.” I don’t teach English 12, but I know that students in English 12 do cover research papers.

 

experimental and control group

As Joanna and I chatted before class began today, we joked about how these classes would be great subject groups to study technology in the classroom, at least at the post-secondary level.  The struggles and trials and tribulations of getting a master’s cohort on educational technology to work through assignments using educational technology is a built-in experiment.  Of course that is not lost on the professors in charge, but it made Joanna and me wonder whether our movements were being tracked and we were in one giant experiment!  I would guess we would be the control group, and the online group would be the experimental group?

I was even more acutely aware of the “experiment” as Matt from the library came to talk with us.  At the end of his tutorial, which left a lot of us in his wake, there was a check-in with the online folk.  To be sure, as quick as Matt was, he fixed all of the problems that arose in the room (save for those who could not download Zotero without admin access).  Trevor chimed in that he got stuck fairly early on, and after that it moved along faster than he could keep up.  This to me highlighted the advantage of being in the room with Matt, as well as my proximal neighbours.  There were times when I leaned either to the left or the right to ask Heather or Clay about some part I had gotten stuck on.  As well, when I told Matt I was stuck, he ran over to get me back on track.  These interactions either occurred spontaneously and quickly (maybe 5-10 seconds) or spontaneously and drawn out (until my problem was solved).  The online folk (except the Fort St. James group) did not have either the advantage of someone literally beside them to ask, or the troubleshooting presence of the instructor at their immediate beck and call.  Those online folk would have to have unmuted their mics and then shared their screen with Matt for him to see where they were stuck.  Of course that was not impossible, but it would have lengthened Matt’s time with us, and his time was limited.  Even for us in the room, the information came at us at warp speed, but we clung to our seats so as not get thrown into the abyss.  In the end, Trevor asked Matt whether he could contact him later to straighten out where he got stuck, and that was fine with Matt.

So it made me think about how things may proceed in the Fall and beyond, as we are ALL going to be the “experimental” online folk.  Hmm…certainly connecting with a few others for support, both moral and intellectual, will be key.

Twitter use and Instructor Credibility

This article brings up many questions, and foremost has to do with the constantly changing face of social media.  Any studies that reference social media platforms risk that information to be seen as either invalid or unreliable, since the shelf-life of a particular platform is quite short, supplanted relatively quickly by something else.  Given that the study was published online in 2015, that is already a lifetime ago in social media terms, since the data would have been collected earlier than 2015 as well.  Since this article deals with college students from likely 2013-2014, the use of Twitter may or may not apply to 2019.  That in and of itself would be needed to affirm its reliability.  Another complicating factor is whether this information can be extrapolated to apply to younger students, such as in high school.  In that case, the difference between the relationships forged between a young adult and a college professor and that between an adolescent and a high school or middle school teacher is very wide.

As for social media platforms, in terms of use, I would anecdotally say that at the moment, Instagram is the platform of choice in 2019 of those in their early 20s and younger.  How would this different platform and its use affect college students’ perception of instructor credibility?  What about at the high school level?

In the Results section, it is reported that of student responses to the Open-ended questions, “Improving student-instructor relationships” was a theme that arose in student responses.  This may be more of an indication of the current generation’s preferred mode of communication with everyone, rather than just the instructor.  The follow-up to this may be about Twitter, or other platforms’ affect on everyone’s credibility.  As well, a control group of an equal number of students who talked with their instructors face-to-face might show the same results.

In my practice as a high school teacher, I went through the wave of Facebook mania about 15 years ago.  As facebook gained in popularity, so did the number of students who wanted to be “facebook friends.”  Some of those students were just “collecting” friends to bump up their numbers, which was a status symbol.  Many just wanted to connect in a way that was less teacher-student oriented.  When dealing with minors, this melding of professional and private personas was, and is, fraught with disaster.  The BCTF warns all teachers to be very careful about those kinds of relationships, and as a union rep, I have had to work with teachers who were pushing the boundaries of professional and private interactions online.  As a compromise, I created a facebook account and accepted only students on that account.  As well, I rarely posted or commented, but used the account to acknowledge a student’s desire to reach out, and left it at that.  The flurry of requests died down, and in the last five years, as facebook has lost its shine with the younger students, I have only been sought out a few times.  At the same time, as Instagram’s popularity has increased, a student has created a fan account on me.  I do not have an Instagram account myself, but this is the new way for students to reach out.

So where does that place us at the high school (and lower) level?  I believe that students’ perception of instructor credibility at the high school level looks very different from that at the post-secondary level.  This may require an equivalent study as DeGroot but with high school students as participants to fully know.

Quantitative Research reading

The required reading, Understanding and Describing Quantitative Data (Lewin, 2011) lays out the variety of quantitative methods of research as well as the details in making the research both valid and reliable.  Of course, all research aims to evaluate what the researcher is focused on (the validity) and that the results can be replicated by others independently (the reliability).  The difficulty lies in the details.  Does the data point to one factor, or are there other possible reasons for the results?  Was there an inherent bias in the process?  Were the results statistically significant?  Many problems may arise regarding the validity of the study’s design.  As for reliability, how many participants were used?  Were they representative of a bigger group?  With a different group, could this be replicated?  Are the experimental and control groups equal?  To ensure a study is both valid and reliable, the researcher must work hard to eliminate as many reasons for discounting the results as possible.

In reading the article, “Closing the gaps Improving literacy and mathematics by ict-enhanced collaboration” (Genlott and Gronlund, 2016), the qualitative research applies, because they have a very specific comparison and measurement.  The hypotheses arose from a method of learning to read and write developed by Arne Trageton called Write to Learn (WTL), and to see whether this method, using ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), results in better scores on a national test of math and literacy.  The three main groups in the study were: a group with ICT and the Write to Learn program; another that did not use WTL or ICT; and the last group used ICT, but not WTL.

The results showed that those students who were in the first group (WTL and ICT) scored higher than the other two groups, as well as the control groups.  The obvious question that arises is a comparison of strategies other than WTL for literacy and numeracy improvement.

Test post on Research Methods

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