W12: Becoming…The Research Proposal:




Research sites

Some policy links



What does a Research Project look like?


We looked at this academic article on Academic Writing to explore the structure of a write up of academic research – and to see the sorts of research that can be undertaken in the area of University teaching- and student study practices and habits. This paper looked at Academic Writing in particular and explored the forms of writing set – and how to promote student success with them. It was quantitative in approach – in that it gained numerical data – but the overall structure is the same that we shall be aiming at – and that is:

The Project Structure:

Title: sub-title

Introduction: Context/background/reasons for interest

Literature Review





Implications for Practice/Recommendations


Appendices – including reference to ARTEFACT.

The title and sub-title give the overall aim of the project – and the specific focus. So in the paper that we looked at we could see that the overall aim was to quantify the sorts of written assignments that students were set (Written assignment types) – with the premise that modes had proliferated somewhat since the 1980s. The focus was the variety of written formats required – beyond the essay and the exam (a varied and healthy diet). Was there variety – was that variety healthy? The paper itself then discussed how ‘health’ could be maintained by different ways of teaching students how to be successful in the different writing that they undertook.

The ‘literature review’ part of the paper was divided in two: The primacy of written tasks in academic literacy and The diversity in written assignments. Thus the first part argued that though the primary mode of assessing student achievement is still through writing, more formats than the essay and the exam are now offered. The second part argued that if there is more variety in the types of written assignments set, students need guidance in how to succeed in them.

This indicated how we can move through our short literature reviews: first focus on one aspect of our research and then focus on another. If we were exploring notemaking for example we might consider first: The argument(s) for making notes – followed by: Different notemaking strategies.

The LearnHigher CETL conducted Literature Reviews upon many aspects of study. We were members of LearnHigher in the active research phase – our focus was notemaking and academic reading. Check out: http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/learning-development-research/#literature reviews – there will be much information here to seed new Projects.

We discussed Method some more. The practical aspects of a short term project suggest that we will use some form of qualitative approach. In our seminar we were encouraged not just to think of a topic that would interest and engage us – but to also think about the sort of method that would intrigue us and keep us motivated to do our project with energy and enthusiasm. We were definitely encouraged to think about the different visual strategies we might employ – or the more creative collaborative writing strategies that could reveal interesting insights.

We were reminded that whilst the Research Project has the structure outlined above – we will be submitting ours in two stages:

The Proposal part – W19 – 1000words:

Title: sub-title

Introduction: Context/background/reasons for interest

Literature Review


The Report part – W30 – 1000words:






Appendices with ARTEFACT

A good tip for writing up a research project is to remember to refer back to the literature review when discussing your findings. Even though our write up will be presented in two parts – we were reminded to refer back to aspects of our own literature review when discussing our findings…

Useful sites:

ALDinHE: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/

Brookes eJournal of teaching and learning: http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/

IPSE: http://metranet.londonmet.ac.uk/research-units/ipse/ipse-seminars/previous-ipse-seminars.cfm

JLDHE: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/

Tactile Academia: http://tactileacademia.com/

IPSE is our own Institute for Policy Studies in Education and we were taken through some of the old papers that had been delivered in IPSE seminars in the University.


Policy Points

Last week we talked about Policy and how it permeates behaviour and practice in institutions – even if invisibly. This is a largely unseen, tacit or implicit part of institutional life – but for some people it can become fascinating… So we were informed of some of the policies that exist at our University. It will be interesting to see if anyone decides to research this aspect of the uni.

Some policies in play

Student Charter:

  1. engage with the London Met community of learning in a respectful, honest and constructive manner
  2. be aware of and abide by the University’s regulations and codes of conduct
  3. be prepared for classes, participate actively and respect the learning rights of other students…


Staff Charter:

“to be treated with dignity and respect…”


Student Conduct: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/universitysecretary/studentconduct.cfm

Equality Scheme:

“… Promote a respectful working, social and study environment where staff and students understand their rights and responsibilities to each other under equality and diversity policies and procedures…”


Mental Health:

See, in particular:-

  • “Crisis incidents” and responses – pages 23 & 24
  • APPENDIX B particularly staff responsibilities (para 2) and good practice in Learning & Teaching (para 4b)


We did not get to talk about the details of this in the lecture or the workshops – but we night note how all the policies insist that it is the students responsibility for knowing their responsibilities under these policies – when most students would not even know that such policies exist – let alone that they have to abide by them. Yes – that could be a research project in itself!

JLDHE is the Journal for Learning Development in Higher Education. All the papers and articles in that Journal are on the topic of promoting student successful study – so that is definitely a source of information for our Literature reviews – and may even model how we might research our chosen topics – and how we might write up and present our own findings. It could be that if we choose to investigate something really innovative or interesting that we think about offering our projects for publication in that journal!

There was an activity suggested for the seminar/workshop time – but not all of the groups managed to undertake it.

Activity – in triads:

  • One – is to talk about project
  • Two – draws out ideas by interviewing ‘one’: what is it, why, how, when, where, who…
  • Three – observes – feeds back on the interview and the research project… (and could literally draw the dynamics viewed).
  • Switch

NB: If interested in researching TRIADS as a method for engaging students in meaningful discussion see: Partnerships working to quality enhance mentor updates


“In ‘Real live learning’ John hilsdon, founder of the Association for learning  tion of interactive learning practices, particularly group work and triads. John sees  …”


After all that we all gathered in one room, joined by the Peer mentors, and had our Christmas Party! I don’t think I have seen so much cake consumed by so many happy people…


W11 Becoming… a researcher: What’s my focus?

This week we were encouraged to utilise experiential learning techniques as a way of preparing for our research project: immersing ourselves in the University and deciding what we are really interested in researching further. The session drew upon the work of the Experiential Learning CETL, University of Plymouth.


Before you decide exactly what or who you are going to research – make more field trips:

Choose locations; Visit; Observe; Reflect: What is happening? What am I interested in? What sort of research could I carry out here? For example – there was talk of really interesting stuff happening at the bus stop; but you could not carry out in-depth interviews or gather questionnaire data there because your participants might be leaping away on a bus at any moment.

Look and think:

  • What is going on?
  • Who is it designed for: Policy; Inspectors; Senior Management Team (SMT); Parents; Staff; Students; Business; Society?
  • How do I know?
  • Which aspect interests me?
  • How might I gather data?
  • What ethical considerations?
  • What permissions?
  • When will I do this?

Things to consider:

  • What is the University as a whole attempting to do?
  • How did they decide on that? Is this obvious?
  • What is the nature of the interaction between the staff and the students?
  • How do the students interact with each other?
  • How do staff interact with each other?
  • How is information communicated between students and staff?
  • How do staff feel about their jobs/University/students/SMT?
  • How do the students feel…?
  • How does the University ‘articulate’ with the surrounding community?

How will you really SEE what is going on?

Take a tape recorder: use a digital recorder to capture the informal conversations between people on your visits. Take pictures with your phone. GET PERMISSION FIRST!!  When writing up:

  • Contextualise your research: The University, student population, borough…
  • SWOT your methods.
  • Your pilot visit and other observations: what, why, when, where, who (for/by) & how
  • Develop your Observation pro forma.

 … And remember Wiifm (what’s in it for me):

When choosing a topic : Wiifm: what will you get from the project as well as the data? Things to think about include:

Improved subject knowledge; Improved research technique; Head start on next modules or courses; Contacts for a job; Topic for publication? For example – some of you were interested in the work of our Research Institutes – make them the subject of your research project in some way – and build links with the Institute of your choice as part of your project.

How will you gather data?

Visual strategies?

Image mediated dialogue

Collage production

Cabinet of curiosities

Give cameras – participants produce narratives…


Disrupts the easy answer

Less text – more analysis?

Writing or collaborative writing?

Set short writing task

Less text to analyse

How to disrupt:


Topic mediated writing

Image mediated writing

See: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/index.php?journal=jldhe&page=issue&op=current

We particularly focussed on the visual and collaborative writing methods of gaining data – they provoke us to be more creative and engaged in the process… But also these methods can disrupt the simple ‘performative’ answer from our participants. It encourages the more ‘truthful’ response. Of course this links to trust relationships and ethical statements of ‘at least do no harm’ and ensuring anonymity and right of withdrawal.

In looking at collaborative writing we drew on the work of Ken Gale and Helen Bowstead – and of our participants also becoming co-researchers in our work.

In our session we conducted a zigzag discussion that seeded some brief collaborative writing – and then discussed how we might analyse the writing generated. It was interesting that many of us liked being part of that process. We liked being asked to speak and write on a topic. There was a sense of being heard and of our voices counting for something – and that is something to remember when planning our own research.

We also discussed how to make participants feel comfortable: choosing an appropriate space where power is not all in the hands of the researcher.  Of modelling body language and reflecting back points so that the participants are encouraged to speak and say what they really want or need to say.


Test the ‘Questions’ you would have in mind when undertaking the study proper. Remember they have to be transcribed! Then interpreted… Then written up. We did then practise interviewing in class – so that we could test out our research ideas – and also some potential interview questions.

Follow up:

Action Research website – with links to BERA: http://www.jeanmcniff.com/index.html

Cornell University site: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/

Quantitative/qualitative research methods – quizzes & resources: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nursing/sonet/rlos/ebp/qvq/index.html

See also the wikipedia – follow the links to references re methods: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualitative_research &  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative

HEA Literature Review site: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ourwork/research/litreviews

Free online tutorial to develop data analysis skills & general support: http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/analysethis/  & http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/resourcepages/doingresearch/doingresearch.html


Boyle, A., Maguire, S., Martin, S., Milsom, C., Nash, R., Rawlinson, S., Turner, A., Wurthmann, S.,Concie, S. Fieldwork is Good: the Student Perception and the Affective Domain. Journal of geography in higher education.1-19.

Brown,N. 2007. Henry Mayhew: London Labour and the London Poor, 1861, http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/25 (Accessed 16/04/2007)

Flanders NA (1970) Analyzing teaching behaviour. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Reading, Mass.

Hammersley & Atkinson (1995) – Ethnography, Principle in practice. Routledge.

Kirakowski, J. (2000). Questionnaires in Usability Engineering: A list of frequently asked questions [online]. Available: http://www.ucc.ie/hfrg/resources/qfaq1.html (accessed April 11 2007).

Mahoney, C(1997) Common qualitative methods in Frechtling et al. (Eds) User-friendly handbook for mixed method evaluations, Division of Research, evaluation and communication.

Becoming W10: Writing Retreat:

·        Creating a space to think, write and think again

·        Tackling our resistance to writing

·        Supporting ‘writing to learn’


Becoming an Educationalist is an extremely intensive course designed to occupy four hours of class time per week plus an additional five or six hours of independent study. The Writing and other tasks that we set are an essential part of your engagement with the ideas and practices of the course. They are designed to promote active learning and critical thinking through writing and other processes.


This week we are having a Writing Retreat where we will engage in real writing to learn – to experience what it is like to make time to write. To write!! To make time to get some writing done.

Overarching tasks – that need to happen every week without reminding:

  • Revision of notes – clear identification of names, theories, concepts and ideas
  • Follow up on the names, theories, concepts and ideas. Do some talking, reading, thinking, writing. Tip: production of personal subject dictionary
  • Reflective learning log – preferably as a blog
  • Review of Becoming blog – contribute a Comment to the blog, adding your blog url
  • All writing tasks set in the Module Handbook – especially if un-finished in class.

By week ten:

Personal Blog, preferably as a Quad-blog. This should have nine reflective learning logs, subject dictionary and possibly all other notes and reflections.

Reflective learning logs: nine – preferably illustrated!.

Six word essay: How to succeed at University.

Free write: What is a successful educationalist?

Collage & Artist Statement:

  1. Explain your process (medium and technique).  How was it made?  Which art materials and approaches did you use and why?
  2. Describe the idea behind your artwork.  What story or message does it get across?  What does it mean to you?
  3. Why did you create it?  What are your reasons for creating that specific art piece?  What do you want your audience to feel and think while observing it?

Digital Project: Developing digital self: write up of your strategy for using #ds106 website – with regular reflections on progress with your personal digital development project. Tip: This could be your Becoming research project!

50-word essays: Either: Successful University writing Or Successful University reading.

Field notes of investigation of the University as a site or sites of learning.

Poster presentation: The University as a site of research and knowledge production; the student as producer of knowledge.

Short essay: How far should our actions depend on our values and beliefs?

Drawings – including of ontology and epistemology.

Written consideration of role of drawing in teaching, learning, research… Construct a possible paragraph for your final essay on the value of drawing and/or art for an educationalist, remembering the paragraph questions:

  1. What is this paragraph about?
  2. What exactly is that?
  3. What is your argument (in relation to the question as a whole)?
  4. What is the evidence? What does it mean?
  5. So what? (Please make a point that relates back to the question as a whole.)

Project: Research an artist, an art movement or a particular work of art – and consider how you might use what you have learned in your studying now – and your teaching in the future – for three-minute presentation, W11. See: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/artmooc-introduction-to-art-concepts.html and


Key word, illustrated notes from all lectures, activities and workshops:

What is an educationalist?

Who and what is education for?

Socialisation, indoctrination or emancipation: what sort of educationalist do I want to be?

Role play and simulations – and their role on teaching and learning

Enlightened self interest, utilitarianism, moral imperative

Analytical and critical thinking – and how to develop it in the self and others

Image mediated dialogue – and its role in teaching and learning

Topic mediated dialogue – and its role in teaching and learning

Academic writing#1 & #2

Presentations: what, why, how

Self-efficacy, self-confidence and self-esteem – in the academic environment

Positive thinking in the academic environment

Gareth Malone (Choir)

Last Chance Kids – the tyranny of literacy

Research – the university and community

Research – ontology, epistemology, positivism, interpretism…

Drawing for teaching, learning and research

Participant observation

Research project: ideas and draft of Project proposal

‘Digital self’ project.

Also: Bandura; Bentham; Burr; Freire; Giroux; Kant; Robinson; Rogers…

PHEW!! How do you feel now?

If you have a new Writing Strategy as a result of this Writing Retreat – please tell us about it in the Comments section. (To find the Comments section – click on the speech bubble near the title of the blogpost.)


In the Beginning

In the beginning


Was the Word

And the word was a metaphor

And that was good.

And the metaphor begat culture

And culture begat man


And that was good.

And the metaphor was the sea


And the sea was the womb

And that metaphor was good.

And the sea begat monsters


And the monsters begat man…


Who begat superman


And that metaphor is a lens


And that is education

Which is E-learning and Digital Cultures.


And that metaphor is good.