EDUS 660 #9: No time for the Rabbit Hole

Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Review all of the blogs to date posted on this classes’ course site.  What might you do to analyze these blogs?  What types of things might you want to research and draw conclusions about regarding the types of posts, the students who post, etc?  Tag qualitative.

I have a file of ideas for future blogs.  Would it be nice to highlight the ideas and press the "Blog" button on a keyboard?
I have a file of ideas for future blogs. Would it be nice to highlight the ideas and press the “Blog” button on a keyboard?

There is a sign on a wall in the bottom floor of Oliver Hall which reads,  “Teacher as Reflective Practioner.” Several floors above the lobby is a poster which displays the details of a study regarding the impact of reflection and blogging on the part of the educator.  Blogging was a new concept for me when I entered the MEd program. I heard the word but had neither read nor written a blog.

Reflecting on what I am doing as a student meanings considering myself as central to the learning process. Reflection “in” action on a weekly basis is sometimes very challenging for me.  While writing is rarely a struggle, synthesizing my ideas in a very short period of time as we do for this research design course, makes me feel as though I am racing through a roller coaster of topics with relatively little time to stop and meander through a topic with time to dig a rabbit hole.

When considering what my classmates have written, these consistencies are expected within each-

  • a unique title
  • the question you are responding to
  • a quote or an image from the reading/web
  • a follow-up question at the end
  • a link to another resource outside of the course
  • and the section category and topic tag

The parameters for this component of the class were both comfortable and useful for me.  This is the first course where I have been given a topic for a blog as opposed to creating blogs of my own choice. The common thread throughout the blogs helps to unify reflections while providing, hopefully, a means for a common discussion. What makes the blogs both unique and interesting is how individuals personalize their writing.  Some blogs are very personal and written in a casual manner while others are rather academic in nature.  The inclusion of a question, or “Something to chew on,” should engage the reader in further conversation about the topic.  Reading with a purpose provides a platform to build relationships, further discussion and engage one in reflection

In one of the supplementary video suggestions for this week, Qualitative Research Methods (27:08) by Daniel N Vivo Coding is used to help qualitative researchers to capture and code the essential components of a research story.  This course is my first exposure to N Vivo.  The tutorial in the supplemental video sources section would be a useful tool as a researcher. For the purpose of this assignment,  I might considering using a web tool such as Wordle  or the Tag Cloud generator from the Add-on section of my Google Drive. I could code data by themes, such as the tag for each week, to identify those words or phrases that prevalent in each week’s entry.  I might consider what makes the blog entries similar.  When looking for patterns, I might considering pulling direct quotes or groups of phrases that help to synthesize the ideas expressed by a particular group.

The enrollment of this class, while certainly smaller than a lecture course, is much larger than any of the seminar courses that I have taken as a graduate student.  I might find it more beneficial to consider looking at components within the class, such as the groupings of students by each professor.  As the groups are comprised of individuals from different disciplines and schools within the university, I might cluster those students from the same master’s program together to observe patterns in writing, thought and application of theoretical ideas from core disciplines. I might ask if there are links between theoretical concepts explored through a social research framework.  The lens of the practitioner, for example, social worker, adult educator, or  public administrator, may be a common thread more easily identifiable when students are clustered by graduate discipline.

Conducting a study of blogging as a form of reflective practice could lend itself to an interesting research study. In keeping with the expectation of “do no harm,” support of some students in an experimental group might consider which variables, beyond the initial parameters stated above, develop more reflective practitioners.  In this course, the type of post is determined by the professor.  The student is expected to respond appropriately to each post by meeting the expectations presented in the course site. If posting was optional, or if there was greater flexibility or choice of topic/method then one might find more variance in topic selection and participation. This variance might then be considered by graduate discipline, academic background, ethnicity and gender, for example.  A twelve-week course may not be a sufficient amount of time in which to conduct a study, however, it may provide the impetus for further study.

Dr. Terry Carter, the former chair of the Adult Learning program at VCU, published a collection of slides last week that summarize the concepts behind experiential learning, reflective practice and blogging as a strategy to engage students in their learning.

If conducting research regarding the types of posts and the students who post might make an interesting Blogging as a form of reflective practice may have been a very new idea to many of the students in the course. Blogging is an essential component of the Adult Learning student’s e-portfolio.   A survey before this course began as well as one at the conclusion of the course may help to understand the ways in which blogging may affect student researchers.  I can conclude from my own experience as a blogger, that the measure of the structure expected by the course has helped me to focus my engagement with topics that are relevant to educational research.

For more ideas about Reflective Practice, consider Argyris and Schon, two heroes of the Adult Learning world!

Something to chew on…

  How have you transitioned as a reflective practitioner through the blog prompts in this course?  In what way have the parameters been useful to you?  Is there one specific blog topic that was challenging for you in terms of theory, philosophy or concept?  Is there one topic that really resonated with you?

Blog Cartoon


One thought on “EDUS 660 #9: No time for the Rabbit Hole

  1. I’m glad you picked up on the NVivo video link. QDA (Qualitative Data Analysis) computer programs like NVivo are frequently used by researchers. Unfortunately, we have not had time to assign Chapter 13 in the textbook, but you will see more detailed information about qualitative analysis there. NVivo is one of the most popular of these programs. Use of NVivo is free to members of the VCU community. All you need to do is request an id on the App2Go server through VCU Technology Services. The program looks like it’s running on your computer, but actually it’s running on the server. There are video tutorials available to teach use of the program. I highly recommend using a QDA program if you are analyzing qualitative data!


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