PhD reflection research

Thoughts on: “What should count as Education Research: Notes towards a new paradigm” (Anyon, 2006)

I’m on my weekly bus trip to Sydney – between 3.5 – 4 hours – to take a workshop on Thesis Proposal Writing (and also to get to know my scholarly colleagues) so it seems like a good time to do some reading and jot down some ideas. (The super chatty backpackers of last week are gone and the bus is basically a big moving quiet library – with wifi, which is great in itself)

So I’ve diligently downloaded some of the recommended readings – in this case 

– and I start reading. Very quickly I realise that while it is an interesting enough chapter, focussing on the need for bigger picture research into the social and political contexts that surround the success or otherwise of education reform in “urban” American schools, it’s pretty well irrelevant to my own research.

This at least leads me to a few thoughts and ideas for TELT practices.

When teachers provide optional readings, it would be great if there was an option to

  1. tag them (ideally by both the teacher and student)
  2. support student recommendations/ratings
  3. directly include in-line options for commenting

It would also be valuable if teachers (while I’m focussing on Higher Ed, I think I’ll go with the term teachers instead of lecturers/academics for now) provided a short abstract or even just a basic description.

This got me thinking further about the informal student recommendation/rating systems that are currently in use and what we need to learn from them. Students at my university, the ANU – I guess I need to add a disclaimer on this blog about all opinions etc being my own and I don’t speak for the ANU – have created a lively Facebook space where they share information and opinions (and cat/possum pictures). These discussions often include questions about which are good (easy) courses or what lecturer x is like. I suspect that the nature of these communities – particularly the student ownership – makes officially sanctioned groups/pages less appealing, so it isn’t necessarily a matter of aping these practices, rather looking for opportunities to learn from them in our TELT practices.

My own supervisor has written about the student experience of TELT practices – I’ll be curious to see whether this question is addressed. (Reading that book is high on my list, I’m just trying to get my head around what it means to be a PhD student and researcher currently so this is the leaning of my reading to date)

The chapter does finish with a quote that I did find relevant though:

Most educational research seeks to provide guidance into how to alter existing policies or practices deemed problematic, but the extent to which research findings effect change is small. The impotence of most research to alter established policy and practice is well recognized

So even when it doesn’t appear that a reading is going to be of value, I guess it can still trigger other ideas and offer more universal thoughts.

Post Script: Just looking at the citation above, it’s clear that I need to get a better grasp of how to use Zotero in the browser. Any and all advice most welcome.