Achieved Learning Outcomes
- Gained a greater understanding of the pseudo-dependant relationship between ontology and epistemology.
- This took place with Cheryl’s request for a clearer definition of ontology, and the ensuing discussion which took place in the class. In particular, the task of examining our particular ontological position was most insightful. I was tasked with writing down and explaining the ontological position of my research interest: ‘Reflective writing as a representation of individual voice within constructed (professional) identity.’ I came to understand that my ontological position, in this regard, recognized ‘identity’ as being something real which was ‘constructed’, moreover, a dichotomy between ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ exists and they both have a particular ‘voice’, and ‘writing’ as being one representation of ‘voice’.
- Gained an opportunity to re-examine quantitative research methods / positivist epistemology and its inherently narrow interpretation and understanding of the world and reality
- This commenced with the Spinelli chapters and my conscious realization that I felt disenfranchised by positivist epistemology, but I have to admit that it has been on going throughout the semester. The task to be undertaken now is to negotiate my jaded outlook toward quantitative research methods back into my understanding of qualitative research methods, as I realize that both have an equal but differing purpose in research.
- Gained insight into the absolute necessity for a frame of reference before data collection is to occur – essentially, some sense of the phenomena under exploration.
- I had what some might call an obvious ah-ha moment during the field observation, for I had quite a bit of difficulty in understanding the purpose of the observation (and even picking a topic) until I formulated a relationship to be explored.
- Gained a more thorough understanding of feminist research as method (and other Type/Realm 3 performative actions).
- This did not occur in class, but rather on my way to class as I was listening to the radio and overheard a Tim Horton’s commercial. The theme of the commercial was a group of men in the cold who refused to hug each other to keep warm as they tied this action to their construct of masculinity. Here the action of the ‘hug’ and even a reference to it, for the purposes of body-heat and self-preservation could not be extricated from its inherent feminine connotations – moreover, there was an expectation on the part of the writers of the commercial that the audience would recognize this social structure on some level and associate with it, and thereby associate with the product being sold.
- Gained a greater understanding and appreciation of ‘bracketing’.
- This took place during and after the assignment pertaining to the ‘Story of Ed’, for I consciously had to recognize those instances where I was interpreting rather than describing a phenomena.
- Gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the utility of autobiography as a research tool – especially in the exploration of individual identity construction.
- The article and exercise by McAdams, though perhaps the most difficult part of this course for myself, proved to be the most enlightening for I was allowed an opportunity to see how current understanding of self is influenced by the memories of one self. This fluid and dialectical nature of self is something I had overlooked, for I had always felt that the past simply influenced the present in a uni-directional relationship. However, past memories, when recalled, are focused through a current perspective, which means interpretations by a researcher need to be anchored to both perspectives in order to be valid.
At the commencement of this course, I will admit that I had very few expectations of personal academic or ontological growth, as I was using most of the courses in my program of Education and Technology as the initial point of reference. However, the challenge that we come to understand the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the methods/concepts/ideas with which we were engaging was extremely refreshing, and provided me with the greatest opportunity for growth. The abandonment of the grand narratives of education, which have been killing me slowly with their noticeable chasms between the original theories and their current applications, was a welcomed step away from the haphazard use of these grand narrative without a solid understanding of the initial theories (i.e. ‘scaffolding’ in constructivism). Perhaps the greatest change in my approach to research, both qualitative and quantitative, is my conscious understanding of Description versus Interpretation. This is something I felt I understood at some implicit level, however, I have found that when I am now reviewing data I am explicitly asking myself “Am I describing a phenomenon, or interpreting it?” For far too long I seemed to slip from one to the other unconsciously, but have come to realize that in order to be a competent researcher, I need to recognize this difference and bracket each accordingly.
As I reflect on what particular areas of qualitative research I need to further consider in preparation of my own future research projects, I realize that I am in need of much more practice in conducting interviews - especially those consisting of primarily open-ended question types and non-verbal prompts. What I seem to lack, or at least have yet to learn, is how to impart empathy during the interview process to ensure the interviewees feel comfortable to share their thoughts in an open and straight forward manner. Beyond the need to practice interviewing, I am intrigued by the Discursive Analysis method as being a way to analyze reflective journaling. In particular, I am interested in the use of Interpretative Repertoires, which “are part and parcel of any community’s common sense, providing a basis for shared social understanding” (Edley, p. 198), and where the current research situates them in professional identity. I sense that as professional identity is constructed, personal voice is present (if at all) in its novel usage of Interpretative Repertoires.
Edley, Nigel (2001). Analysing masculinity: Interpretive repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions. In Margaret Wetherell, Stephanie Taylor, & Simeon Yates (Eds.), Discourse as data. A guide for analysis (pp. 189-228). The Open University: Sage.
Comments may be directed to Bhuvinder S. Vaid.
Click here to continue on to the Qualitative Research Proposal section