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August 04, 2015

4th Group meeting recording

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMIeoZOKBAo

I am sorry for being a little bit too late posting this. Although I did manage to post it on facebook in time.

Why so late

The reason for me not being able to post any updates in this blog is trifold; too busy with my data collection, llimited access to the internet and finally having other engagements for the last month.

Regardless, I have free internet (for the time being) and some time on my hand to update this blog. So here's the first of (hopefully) a cople more posts.

Meeting in a glance

We had this meeting back on the 25th June with special guest Dr Michael Hammond. We also had acouple attendees who jpint us for the first time. During the meeting we discussed a wide scope of topics ranging from Transcriptions (verbatim vs. edited) to conducting successful interviews, from Discourse analysis to Research paradigm and from The use of the Likert scale measures in surveys to dealing with different writing styles and how keeping a research diary is such a good practice. Towards the end of the meeting we also had a discussion about our future SSLC reps. Dr Hammond took the names of the candidates and promised to communicate the selection criteria and process either directly or through me.

The recording

You can listen to the audio recording here

Make sure to check out the video description (just underneath the title and the sharing buttons) for a detailed list of contents.


June 03, 2015

What is axiology and how does it relate to ontology and epistemology?

Follow-up to Researcher’s paradigm from CES PHD Support Group

axioAccording to Encyclopaedia Britannica

Axiology, (from Greek axios, “worthy”; logos, “science”), also called Theory Of Value, the philosophical study of goodness, orvalue, in the widest sense of these terms. Its significance lies (1) in the considerable expansion that it has given to the meaningof the term value and (2) in the unification that it has provided for the study of a variety of questions—economic, moral, aesthetic, and even logical—that had often been considered in relative isolation.

But how does axiology sit within other elements of the research paradigm? namely ontology and epistemology

In order for us to be able to understand the different meanings of each of these lovely terms, we need a historical prospective.

I was able to find references to four major eras of human understanding of reality and knowledge generation. We will call these eras of realism.

  1. Plato & Aristotle (Sanzio)The first era of realism is called the idealism period. This era existed at the time of Socrates. According to idealism, reality or ontology is spiritual, epistemology is about rethinking tried and true ideas, and axiology is about the absolute and the eternal. Socrates believed that man is a temporal being.
  2. The second era of realism was popularized by Aristotle. Here reality is both objective and measurable and not spiritual, epistemology is through the use of senses, while axiology is based on nature’s laws and thus could be acquired. The Aristotelian teachings of realism are referred to as essentialism.
  3. The third era was the first of two radical ages; pragmatism. Pragmatists were very strict about what they accepted and they rejected. Any factors of ontology, epistemology and axiology that were to be included in their work (or even considered) have to be found useful; otherwise, they were instantaneously dropped. A philosophy stemming from the pragmatism stance was Progressivism. Progressivism was proposed by our much beloved hero John Dewey. Dewey instructed public schools to teach only what is of interested to students. Everything that is not regarded as useful was thrown away.
  4. Finally, the fourth era and the second radical age is Existentialism, which was born after WW2. According to Existentialism, reality is subjective (very daring indeed!), epistemology is only a personal pursuit or quest loaded with choice and axiology was the expression of freedom.

So in short, ontology, epistemology and axiology used to mean different things in different times of history according to how people generally perceived the world and regarded knowledge as being created. Not very helpful? Here's somthing

Dr. Marcia Hills and Dr. Jennifer Mullett (from the University of Victoria, Canada) wrote a very useful account defining Paradigm, Ontology, Epistemology And Axiology. Here is what they had to say about these concepts and how they relate to research (these were directly copied from their article):

Defininitions of Paradigm, Ontology, Epistemology, Axiology and Methodology in research context

Participatory Paradigm

A paradigm is "a set of basic beliefs (or metaphysics) that deals with ultimates or first principles. It represents a worldview that defines, for its holder, the nature of the world, the individual’s place in it, and the range of possible relationships to that world and its parts, as , for example, cosmologies and theologies do" (Guba & Lincoln, 1994, p. 105). Guba & Lincoln made a significant contribution in articulating four differing worldviews of research - positivist, post positivist, critical, and constructivist- based on their ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions. Heron and Reason (1997) argue for a fifth worldview – a participatory paradigm. Community-based research is situated within this paradigm and also embraces the ideology and methodology of co-operative inquiry created by Heron & Reason (1988; 1994; 1996; 1997).

A participatory paradigm rests on the belief that reality is an interplay between the given cosmos, a primordial reality, and the mind. The mind "creatively participates with [the cosmos] and can only know it in terms of its constructs, whether affective, imaginal, conceptual or practical" (Heron, p.10) "Mind and the given cosmos are engaged in a creative dance, so that what emerges as reality is the fruit of an interaction of the given cosmos and the way the mind engages with it" (Heron & Reason, 1997 p. 279). As Skolimowski (1992) states; "we always partake of what we describe so our reality is a product of the dance between our individual and collective mind and "what is there", the amorphous primordial givenness of the universe. This participative worldview is at the heart of the inquiry methodologies that emphasize participation as a core strategy", (p.20).

Subjective–Objective Ontology

Ontology refers to the form and nature of reality and what can be known about it (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). In contrast to orthodox research that utilizes quantitative methods in its claim to be value free (but which is more accurately described as valuing objectivity), and many qualitative approaches that value subjectivity, community based research endorses a subjective-objective stance.

An subjective-objective ontology means that there is "underneath our literate abstraction, a deeply participatory relation to things and to the earth, a felt reciprocity" (Abram, 1996, p. 124). As Heron and Reason (1997) explain, this encounter is transactional and interactive. "To touch, see, or hear something or someone does not tell us either about our self all on its own or about a being out there all on its own. It tells us about a being in a state of interrelation and co-presence with us. Our subjectivity feels the participation of what is there and is illuminated by it", (p.279). So community-based research is interested in investigating people’s understandings and meanings as they experience them in the world.

Epistemology

Epistemology refers to the nature of the relationship between the knower and the what can be known. Guba & Lincoln (1994) claim that orthodox science, because of its belief in a "real" world that can be known, requires the knower to adopt a posture of objective detachment in order "to discover how things really are" (p.108). There is a presumption that the knower and the known are separate and independent entities that do not influence one another. There is a search for the "truth"; for the facts in objective and quantifiable terms which holds empirical data in the highest esteem.

In contrast, community-based research rests on an extended epistemology that endorses the primacy of practical knowing. In community-based research, the knower participates in the known and that evidence is generated in at least four interdependent ways – experiential, presentational, propositional, and practical (Heron & Reason, 1997; Heron, 1996).

Axiology

In addition to considering the three defining characteristics of a research paradigm suggested by Guba and Lincoln –ontology, epistemology and methodology, - Heron and Reason argue that an inquiry paradigm also must consider a fourth factor –axiology.

Axiology deals with the nature of value and captures the value question of what is intrinsically worthwhile? The fourth defining characteristics of a research paradigm, axiology, puts in issue "values of being, about what human states are to be valued simply because of what they are" (Heron & Reason, 1997, p. 287). The participatory paradigm addresses this axiological question in terms of human flourishing. Human flourishing is viewed as a "process of social participation in which there is a mutually enabling balance, within and between people, of autonomy, co-operation and hierarchy. It is conceived as interdependent with the flourishing of the planet ecosystem" (Heron, 1996, p. 11). Human flourishing is valued as intrinsically worthwhile and participatory decision-making and is seen as a means to an end "which enables people to be involved in the making of decisions, in every social context, which affect their flourishing in any way" Heron, 1996, p. 11).

Methodology

One methodology that is particularly well suited to community-based research is co-operative inquiry (Heron, 1996; Reason, 1994). Co-operative inquiry is a participatory action methodology that does research with people not on to or about them. This methodology engages people in a transformative process of change by cycling through several iterations of action and reflection. Co-operative inquiry consists of a series of logical steps including; identifying the issues/questions to be researched, developing an explicit model/framework for practice, putting the model into practice and recording what happens and, reflecting on the experience and making sense out of the whole venture (Reason, 1988). Therefore, evidence about what constitutes "best practice" is generated by people examining their practices in practice and reflecting on these practices.


You have read alot, here's a funny comic

research-in-progress.jpg

References
  • Abram, D. (1996), The spell of the sensations. New York: Pantheon
  • Arif, M. (2007). Baldrige theory into practice: a generic model. International Journal of Educational Management, 21(2), 114–125.
  • Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Guba E., & Lincoln, Y., (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y (Eds.) Handbook on qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage. 105-118.
  • Hills, M and Mullett, J., (2000). Community-Based Research: Creating Evidence-Based Practice for Health and Social Change. in Proceedings of the Qualitative Evidence-based Practice Conference, Coventry University - May 15-17 2000, Coventry, UK. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001388.htm
  • Heron, J. (1996) Co-operative inquiry. London: Sage.
  • Heron, J. & Reason, P. (1997). A participatory inquiry paradigm. Qualitative Inquiry. 3 (3) 274-294.
  • Reason, P. (Ed). (1988) Human Inquiry in Action. London: Sage.
  • Reason, P. (Ed). (1994). Participation in Human Inquiry. London: Sage
  • Skolimowski, H. (1992). Living philosophy: Eco-philosophy as a tree of life. London: Arkana

June 01, 2015

2nd Group meeting summary

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoboJxaaiE

11219728_10153339058278540_601117441024260248_n.jpgIn brief

So last Wednesday we had our second meeting for the PhD support group, on the agenda of the meeting we had a discussion about the definition of case studies (including a talk about revealing contact details about your case study) generalizability of case study [link] research and using NVivo for qualitative data analysis.

The meeting was extra especial because we had our friend Anne join us from the U.S. over Skype, with the magical technological advances and tech wizardry and with Anne heroically waking up right in the middle of the night we were able to have our across-the-Atlantic meeting of the minds. Also to make our gathering that much better we were joined by Henry who is nearing the submission date of his thesis, and was generous enough to join us and share with us some great advices related to our discussion points (more on that later).

So what is the case in case study

So, the first item of business; definition of a case study, the idea here was to collaboratively figure out what defined the “case” part of each of our respective case studies. So, in turns we each presented our research topic and what outlined the boundaries of each case; for some of us a case was a subject institution like a school or a university; for others it was a person whom they had interviewed or were planning on interviewing; and interestingly for some of us a case was a collection of people within an organization like teachers, headmasters and teacher trainers.

Also, some of us are looking at multiple case studies (example Asima and myself) while other are looking at one case study (example Hessah and Hafiz).

Being careful with language

Asima made an important remark about being careful in using the language when talking about the research method and methodology. So terminology such as ‘case study’ comes loaded with meanings and related connotations and the researcher is actually borrowing aspects of case study design, aspects that are related to his or her research. Here the researcher is urged to tread lightly so to speak when talking about the design of their research. They should talk only about those related aspects and make a clear cut about what is it they are borrowing and what is it they are not. (Listen to Asima talk about this and her reflection on Yin’s case study book at the 9 minutes mark of the recording – link above).

11181686_10153339058413540_626376609674397301_n.jpg11350505_10153339059103540_5671400526198442948_n.jpg


May 30, 2015

2nd Group meeting recording

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoboJxaaiE

I am getting the hang of it! It seems that video editing is a skill with a smooth learning curve. This time around I had a video recording and an audio recording to work with. The video recording covers a part of the meeting where our friend Esther Jawing is talking about using NVivo for thematic analysis. The audio recording covers the whole meeting. Now, getting the two recording into iMovie was simple enough, creating a joint video was very easy. Except the audio recording quality dropped massively in the video file. Apparently the internal microphone of a smart phone is not as good as a dedicated professional audio recorder, who knew :)

So, I overlaid the dedicated audio recording over the video recording. Turned down the audio track from the video file and voila! a great sounding video. The tricky part was getting the two files to synchronize perfectly, which was not as easy as you would imagine. iMovie was not helpful in this are, which caused me to I struggle a little bit to get a convincing synch.

You can watch the final product here; seek to minute 49:35 to see how the video track and audio track work together.

betterfamilyphotos.jpg

The video contents are:

  1. Agenda
  2. Case studies: what are cases in each research
  3. Case study as a research design, approach and methodology
  4. Disclosing information about case study details
  5. Ontology, Epistemology & Axiology
  6. Using NVivo for thematic analysis


After finishing the editing, I was glad with how things turned out thinking to myself “this is a genius set up, people should use a similar handheld audio recorder to improve the audio quality of their videos!” I then realized that people have been doing this for ages. Just go to YouTube and search vloggers audio setup for their videos. Turns out that my handheld device was somehow popular on YouTube. On the right you can see a standard set up for capturing video with high-quality audio (credit: Better Family Photos).

I wish to thank Hafiz Hanif for providing the video file; probably video recording should be a standard in our future meetings. I think I will bring this up in a future meeting and see.


May 18, 2015

1st Group meeting recording

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnE55FPS7yY

First recording upload to YouTube

It was not an easy job getting my first YouTube upload in this format! I created a dedicated YouTube channel for the group (link) and had to learn how to transform an audio recording into a video file (using iMovie) so YouTube will accept it. The reason that I wanted to upload the file to YouTube is that I could have cut into bite-size chunks so it's easier to jump through. The result is a nice looking file with a detailed description of its contents. Additionally, I learnt to use the annotations, which are very useful little things!


Video annotations

So, annotations are "clickable text overlays on YouTube videos". They are used by YouTubers to increase their view count and help engage more subscribers. You are advised to be inventive in using annotations. I remembered once seeing a video where the uploader made self-referring links in the video that allowed to jump from one point in time to another. After a bit of tweaking and trial and error, I was able to overlay a couple annotations that broke the file into four major parts. Pressing each one will allow the viewer to seek into a different part of the recording. I am generally happy with the result. I hope it's clear for first time viewers.

So, please have a look through and don't forget to check out the video description just underneath the title and the sharing buttons. Oh yeah, and share it if you feel like it. Link to video

The video description

For more details about the content of the video I added a detailed account of the recording contents. A time stamp and a title of the discussion is listed in chronological order. The time stamp is clickable and will make the video jump to the exact point of timw where the right topic is discussed. I’m genuinely impressed with how things worked out at the end. Alas, it was not an easy job! Uploading the recording took about an hour!! Adding the annotations took another hour, and don't get me started on the editing (the video rendering only took a whopping 5 hours on a 2.8 Intel Core i7 with 8 Gigs of ram)! Regardless, let's just hope there’s a learning curve here and let's hope next time it won't be this much time consuming. Because I intend to not quit on this project. Oh yeah, I to see this through.

Recording privacy

Although this recording is on YouTube it is somehow private. This will be good news for you if you were in the recording and are shy or unconformable being on YouTube. Because the recordings is "Unlisted". Making a video "unlisted" means only those who have the link to the video can view it. An unlisted video won’t appear in YouTube's search results (unless someone adds the unlisted video to a public playlist). You can share the video by simply sharing the link with the people who you’d like to have access to it.


May 17, 2015

Researcher’s paradigm

Researcher’s paradigm

paradigmResearcher’s paradigm is tricky concept. The problem starts with the term itself, with authors using various terms to refer to the same concept. The used terms include Researcher’s philosophy, philosophical worldview and Researcher’s framework.

Regardless, the paradigm is essentially an umbrella term that refers to the researcher’s ontology and epistemology.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Ontology refers to the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of existence. Epistemology on the other hand refers to the part of philosophy that deals with knowledge. Epistemology is a theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.

To read more on the difference between ontology and epistemology check my entry to the ARM programme blog and make sure you download the attached PowerPoint file. Here http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/voices/entry/researchers_paradigm/

A great resource I found online is an article by Professor Ørjan Totland, I found on the Norwegian University of Science and Technology website. Here http://www.idi.ntnu.no/grupper/su/publ/html/totland/ch032.htm

Book suggestions

In our first meeting of the CESPHD support group, we had a lively discussion on the researcher’s paradigm. Thankfully, some great books were suggested. Here’s a detailed account of the suggested books:

A Practical Guide for Beginners1) An easy to read and great with real-life examples book is Braun & Clarke's Successful Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide for Beginners. Library link

Book details:

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd (28 Feb. 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1847875823

ISBN-13: 978-1847875822


2) An authority on Research is John W. Creswell who has many books, except they might be a bit dry. See all Creswell's books in the Library here


3) Another authority on Research is David Silverman whose books are also hard to approach. See all Silverman's books in the Library here


4) Another authoruty is Stephen Gorard, whos provides hugely critical review of other authors. This makes him a great resource for those who want a critical edge to their work. See all Gorard's book in the Library here


A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences5) A must-have book is Matthews & Ross's Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences See Library Link or View Online

Book details:

Paperback: 520 pages

Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (9 Jun. 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1405858508

ISBN-13: 978-1405858502


Feel free to suggest your own favourate books in the comments below


1st Group meeting summary

What a great first meeting we had! I genuinely enjoyed myself and had great discussions with other colleagues. The 75 minutes meeting was very smooth and productive. The 9 attendees discussed their research as well as the format and goal of the support group.

You can listen to the meeting's recording here and read about the YouTube video here

The summary of the discussions includesmeeting2.jpg

Introducing the Group and its goals, followed by a discussion on the formula and regularity of meetings.

Asima, who also provided us with a list of book recommendations, triggered a lively discussion on Ontology & Epistemology. The discussion is going to continue on our next meeting. Make sure you are present for that!

The book recommendations are further discussed here.

Another great discussion on Data Collection took place, with everybody chipping in. We all presented out data collection duration and how we managed our schedules.

Interview transcriptions were also discussed, with colleagues sharing their experiences in using transcribing software (namely NVivo). A coming up meeting will include detailed discussions and tips on using NVivio.

Self-reflection was also discussed and the matter of keeping a personal diary. Some suggested keeping track of your work, others suggested going back to your old material and reflect on it.

A closing discussion included the possibility of help from the department. The idea is that the department offered to provide us with workshop and one-on-one support on key research-related topics, such as using NVivo and SPSS. A group of students who are interested in such help can request formal support from the department. The CESPHD support group will help facilitate this request.

Looking forward to our next meeting! Make sure you are present so you don’t miss out.


May 12, 2015

Welcome to the CES PHD Support Group blog

Welcome

It brings me great pleasure to announce forming a PHD support group. The group is called CESPHD and as the name suggests it is aimed at all PHD students at the Centre for Education Studies.


Goal of the group

As many of you have indicated on various occasions, there is a need for some sort of a group that allows students to discuss their research and help each others overcome the similar obstacles they are facing. Well, here's your chance, an informal group formed and managed by students. Thanks to everyone of you who expressed interest and helped with your valuable input (especially Asima, Hafiz, Sakinah & Natia)

The main goals of the group are:

  1. help students meet on a semi-regular basis in a friendly environment where they can talk openly about their research experience
  2. transfer research experience and share helpful tips
  3. capitalise on the collective thinking and allow feedback for those who would like to present their work to a fresh set of eyes

Additional benefits include (and are not limited to)

  1. Sharing tips on valuable papers and books
  2. Provide solutions to potential problems (brainstorming/focus group)
  3. Giving conference heads up
  4. A good place to just hang out and plan fun activities


The formula of the meeting

As mentioned above the meetings are biweekly and take place in the late morning. The meeting is open for everyone to show up and leave whenever they feel like it.

Please keep in mind that this is definitely not a formal thing and most definitely not mandatory.

In order for the meeting to be most fruitful you are encourage to:

  • Have a personal 'agenda' for the meeting; this is what you want to get out of the meeting. You personal agenda can be some piece of work you are working on and feel stuck and in need of fresh eyes to have a look at.
  • Don't expect everyone to show up so try and make use of as many people who are present on the day.
  • If you are not facing any problems with your research (in which case congratulations!! you are the 1 in a million) you are still welcome to take part and help other students. Who knows? you might just pick up the most useful piece of advice for your work (well... it's a possibility!
  • Be reasonable in your expectations, this is not a tutoring group or a workshop (although some members might be up for one-to-one tutorials according to their time and availability.

Looking forward to your participation both in the Group and online, please feel free to view, comment and post on this blog.


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