Thursday, 10 March 2016

The end of the module...

No blogging for quite some time as reading and research took over all the time I had available to devote to the EdD.

Since my last post, I have interviewed three participants, transcribed the interviews, analysed them using IPA and completed an 8,000 word assignment discussing both my theoretical perspectives and the research project. Well, 8,791 words to be precise, as we are permitted +/-10%. The first draft ended up being 11,003 words, so serious pruning was required. The finished assignment didn’t really have the depth I wanted in some areas, especially in relating my findings to wider literature, but 8,000 really wasn’t enough.
What have I learnt?

1.       I *loved* doing this assignment. From initial total confusion at entirely new concepts, to moments of clarity as when the fog shifts and you can see your destination before the fog closes back in to obscure your route again. There’s still a lot of fog, but with islands of clarity. I suppose I should wait and see what the feedback is before I consider how fog-bound I remain. 

2.       The more I read, the more I found that just about every area of research into transition has been done to death. It’s an area I’m still really interested in, but quite where the gap in the research is that I can make my own, I just don’t know. Around two weeks before submission I felt I had nothing to add. How on earth do you find that slight gap in the knowledge that you can add to, especially as there is a lag between research being completed and publishing?

3.       I was so lucky with my first interviewee – he could talk the hind leg off a donkey. My interviewees became progressively more reticent but that was good experience, of a sort.

4.       Immersion in the data is easy when you’re as slow at transcribing as me.

5.       Oh how I loved those ‘aha’ moments when I noticed something in the way an interviewee said something – not just what they said, but how they said it: repetition of a phrase such as “I know x, I know y, I know z, I’m ready…” or the change from the very personal ‘I’ to using ‘you’ when talking about how other people perceived one participant.

6.       Despite what some articles say, don’t try to arrange your themes into superordinate themes using pieces of paper. It’s so much easier to cut and paste and move things around on a PC.

And what did I find? Well, my reflexive thoughts prior to the research were that students from vocational backgrounds would feel at a disadvantage to students from the traditional A level route with regard to academic skills used at university. However, what I actually found was a group (albeit small and idiographic) of confident, self-motivated learners who felt more than ready for study at HE, and considered themselves better equipped with academic skills than their A level colleagues. I started to consider this in relation to Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital and habitus, but that is where my word count ran out.

With the new module starting tomorrow, I hope to explore this area of educational theory in more detail, and just keep looking, looking, looking for the novel angle through which I can take this topic through to the final thesis.

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