Monday, 5 October 2015

Weekend 1

My first EdD weekend took place on Friday evening and on Saturday. A chance to meet the other people on the long journey to a doctorate. Many of the others are specialists in primary and early years, with a smattering of university employees and one or two secondary teachers. There's even a retired  teacher who has already completed a PhD after retiring. whilst some seemed to have an understanding of some of the concepts, I wasn't the only one who seemed new to it all.

After a brief course introduction, we started into the first module, research methodologies for professional enquiry. This is the source of the reading I've been doing over the past fortnight. There was a brief overview of the assignment, then straight into considering our views on research. We worked as small groups to winnow 27 statements about research down to what we considered the six most important. We were the only group to make it to six, and we managed to have quite a discussion whilst doing so. I wish I'd noted down the statements, but in general, they seemed to relate to an interpretivist viewpoint, from what I've read.

One group only agreed on a single statement - that research is always parasitic. Our group did discuss this, but we discounted it. Parasitism is a negative process to the host, and whilst some research (if not done ethically) *may* cause harm to the participant(s), overwhelmingly research will at least cause no harm and can have positive effects. The whole point of critical theory paradigm seems to be that one completes research in order to transform the lives of those who are underdogs and have been ignored or actively put down by the dominant section of society.

We were then allocated one of the pre-reading texts to go over ready for an activity the next day. Typically, it was, for our group, the one paper I'd barely started reading. I had a chance to read over Patti Lather's paper once that night and then first thing in the morning, but it made little sense. Some more time reading during the activity did clarify areas for me, but it wasn't easy. More on that in the blog post about that article.

In the afternoon, we looked at the role of questionnaires as methods of gathering data. The tutor introduced two opposing schools of thought (post-positivist and interpretative. We then analysed a questionnaire from one of these viewpoints. Half of the class from a behaviourist viewpoint and half from a symbolic interactionist view. The summary was that, despite it being a questionnaire from a well-respected research group, the design of it was rather appalling, ultimately satisfying no-one. An extension of this activity was to investigate some of the key themes drawn out from one  of the free-answer questions on the questionnaire. I found this very interesting. Note to self: could I use this approach in my assignment? We then looked at the interpretation published by the research group. fascinating differences appeared, giving a positive spin to the results. It also illustrated one of the research definitions we did choose the previous evening: research conceals as well as reveals. It selected in particular (privileged) responses, whilst 'selecting out' others.

After an investigation of our view of ourselves as professionals and people, the day was finished. Reading to do, writing up to clarify, and thinking about assignment. Lots of things to do if I want to stay on track and organised.

Planned blog posts:
1. Complete reading blogposts
2. Post on starting the assignment
3. Reworking notes taken during the weekend
4. Read and blog on the reading we were given during the weekend.

A scary first session over.

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