All entries for Saturday 20 August 2016

August 20, 2016

Research update

Been quite a while since I have written a blog post on here as there have been plenty of things going on to distract me, but now is time for a series of blog updates! The following is a brief overview of the key areas of activity, with further blog posts following that explore these in more detail.

Update on the Trial study

The trial study is based on trialling a collaborative activity and trialling a grounded theory approach adapted from the ideas of Strauss and Corbin. I say adapted because there are a variety of authors suggesting Strauss and Corbin’s version is too regimented and difficult to follow, but Strauss and Corbin did respond by suggesting their procedures for coding do not have to be followed through strictly, therefore researchers should logically and constructively apply grounded theory procedures relevant to the research context. I might alter aspects of the approach as the trail and the main thesis study continues.

The trial appears to be coming along well. As reported in earlier posts I managed to successfully carry out the trail activity so it is now the case of continuing to use grounded theory to learn about it more, and to learn about the data that I have collected. I am fascinated with grounded theory! Lots of information on grounded theory online but for now it suffices to say that grounded theory is a key methodology (or method: it can be viewed both ways depending on its purpose and position within the research design) in developing new conceptualisations, a new theory, or new theorising of the phenomenon of interest. This is challenging and I have the belief that in order to really be successful at this you have to be quite creative and able to think about data, events, observations and aspects of reality at an abstract level. You begin with exploring the data but you have to think about the data at a higher, abstract level. It’s about interpreting the data based on your observations, though the validity of these interpretations can be increased depending on the research design and the way in which existing literature is used. But despite it being challenging it is an exciting approach to exploring data.

Trial Study as the Thesis Study

The most significant feedback and conversations during the past month or so has been the idea of using the trail study as a thesis study, or acting as a case within the thesis study. This was and still is huge, because it effectively means that when I am exploring and coding the data not only am I exploring data to benefit the production of the upgrade paper but also to benefit the thesis and the research itself. This has been deemed feasible therefore I shall be using the activity as part of the thesis and also explore other activities, known in the thesis as cases, in order to locate differences and similarities, which shall increase the validity of the theorising and theory development.

Change of Research Design

This change has actually come about through working through the trial study. Previously I had mentioned about adopting a critical realist, concurrent triangulation variety of mixed methods where the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the study would be carried out at the same time. In other words, I would have been carrying out grounded theory analysis of the activity whilst collecting thoughts and beliefs of the learners at the same time and then integrate the findings and discussions.

The only aspect that has changed is the mixed methods variety: I’ve ditched the concurrent triangulation and adopted the sequential, exploratory variety. Briefly, during the trail study I was struggling with the way in which data from the grounded theory findings and questionnaire findings could merge due to the abstractness of grounded theory. There would have been a chance of new concepts and new conceptualisations emerging from the data but exploring them via quantitative measures would not have been possible because the quantitative phase would have started at the same time, or in other words concurrently.

Using a sequential exploratory approach enables the constructions and conceptualisations, the theory, to emerge first and then test these out using the questionnaire and generalise across a wider population. This makes a lot more sense than to carry out both threads concurrently given the potential for extra insights that would not have been possible to explore had the mixed methods approach remained unchanged.

I’ve also encapsulated the research into a multiple case study, therefore the research design is now a critical realist multiple case based sequential exploratory mixed methods design.

Progress on the Upgrade Paper

This has been rewritten more times than I care to remember and will be reread and edited in various places before actually handing it in. When I rewrite each section I ask myself why did I not think about things in a particular way and communicate in a particular way before. But that is the beauty of re editing: it makes you think and contemplate more as you go through the document and think if you can explain anything in a more concise, or more sophisticated way without dropping the meaning behind the text. I know this, but still, sometimes it takes me by surprise at the differences that are found between each modified version of a particular document.

Most of the sections are now complete. Only sections that need to be completed are the trial study section, and talk a bit more about potential problems and possible outcomes.

That’s the brief overview of the main things that have been going on during the past month or so!

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