#becomingeducational W8: Research Methods

So we started with our weekly review – and re-visited ‘dialogic’… which led us to consider pedagogy, androgogy and heutagogy – with the suggestion that as emancipatory educationalists you/we are moving our students towards heutagogy – that state where they take control of and drive their own learning. We linked this to Ivan Illich and his arguments about de-schooling society: that we are so shaped and confined by current educational practices that we have to de-schooled, we have to un-learn, before we can even begin to see what’s what.

That’s all very well but

But how does this relate to our wonderful exhibition last week – and how can we submit our participation in that for assessment – you said!

Remember, we ask you to submit at the end of the course evidence of your engagement in three creative projects. It could be that last week’s artefact constituted a key moment for you – so the trick would be to reflect on it in a way that shows you are connecting with the key ideas of the course: so – to what extent was your artefact or the exhibition evidence of dialogic practice? Or could it form the basis of an argument for more creative and inclusive or more socially just assessment practices? Would such an exhibition help build the self-efficacy of your students? Why and how?

When you think along those lines, you are on your way to working out how to put your final portfolio together… Which flagged up ACADEMIC WRITING.

The paragraph as dialogue

We had a brief moment where we looked at our writing – several points came up: do not wait for all your thinking to be ‘done’ before you start to write – see your writing as another learning PROCESS… and when you are writing – imagine yourself in dialogue with your reader – and use that dialogue (have you seen the connection yet?) – to shape your writing:

1: What is this paragraph about?

  • Introduce your topic

2: What exactly is that?

  • Define, explain, clarify

3: What is your argument? Tell me something…

  • Make a case!

4: What is the evidence and what does it mean?

  • Refer to the relevant literature – give an example … and DISCUSS

5: So what?

  • Make a POINT – that ties back to the assignment question or the research topic…


And so to Research Methods

We linked our research processes to experiential learning: where you learn by doing – and by reflecting on that ‘doing’ (cue more exhortations for you to write those weekly blogs!).

With reference to your Research Projects, we pointed out that your exploration of the university’s formal and informal learning spaces were in fact a ‘field trip’ where you tried to really see what was going on around the university.

As it is so difficult to see differently (see Illich again) – we had asked you to present your findings in unusual ways: knitting, jigsaw puzzle, cartoon, 3D, animation, video, cabinet of curiosity, poetry… We hoped that the act of telling the story in a different way would help you to see differently. You will have to reflect and see if this worked!

Hopefully, the field trip revealed something about studying, teaching, learning… at university in which you were really interested – and thus you were in a position to start thinking about your research project!

Once you know what you are going to research and why – you are ready to write your INTRODUCTION.

Once you have read up on what other people have said on your topic – you are ready to write your LITERATURE REVIEW. And we suggested that you look at Kandiko Howson for student expectations of HE – also because she used concept mapping as a research method. If interested in students and academic writing – we said to have a look at Theresa Lillis and Helen Bowstead. And generally to have a look at the Journal of Learning Development in HE: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/ – as a rich source of articles on any of the subjects you may be interested in.

We then turned again to looking at your METHOD – and stressed that we want you to undertake qualitative research – and to use an interpretative method – flagging up that we have been practising these methods throughout the course so far. So you can get your participants to make collages – to draw pattern notes or concept maps or rich pictures – you can seed discussion by Topic- or Image Mediated Dialogue… and we returned to your original field trip – and said that you could also undertake structured observation.


Further reading

Interesting PPT on Action Research. Action research is where you explore a situation – design and implement an intervention and then evaluate it. Very useful for educationalists. We are not suggesting that you do design an intervention – but there is some great information here:



Where good ideas come from – a nice follow up to some of our work on creativity in HE:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s