All 20 entries tagged Research

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August 08, 2008

Reflexive inquiry


I started to use the term 'reflexive' consciously after attending a lecture of Mick on Action Research in Apr 08. Recently, I found a diagrom, used by Patton (2000) which lists questions to be used in the reflexive thinking process. It is very useful, both for research and for self-improvement. I would like to share it with those who view my blog.

August 07, 2008

Things to learn after PhD study

In the process of acquiring knowledge and skills to conduct my PhD research, I am exposed to a lot of interesting concepts, ideas and subjects. This is a good thing--keeps my curiosity towards the nature of this world continue, most probably till the last day of my life.  However, it is also not a good thing at this moment, when I suppose to concentrate on PhD study. Time disallows me to do many things during my stay in UK. To avoid my attention being diverted, I decide to make a list: things to learn or explore after PhD study.


不能根据从事科学活动的人相信什么来判断他是不是一个科学家,而要根据他如何和为什么相信。科学家的信念是尝试性的、非教条的,他们以证据为基础,而不以权威或直觉为基础。 Bertrand Russell

August 02, 2008

Choice of Research Methodology

I am very excited: after months of study, I am now capable of explaining why I choose multiple case studies design as my methodology, and why not choosing ethnography, grounded theory, experiment, quasi-experiment, correlational study or survey. I was confused by several books (especially Creswell, 2008; and Cohen, 2000) which I read since the beginning of my study.

I like Creswell’s simple and direct explanation on how to conduct educational research in general. I also benefited from the advice given on dealing with ethical issues. Unfortunately, these benefits I gained lured me to the problems I faced for the past 5 months. I was not able to justify why and why not in choosing research methodology for answering my research questions. Creswell (2008) created an imaginative character—Maria and set various kinds of scenarios for Maria to solve educational problems she faces in her working as a school teacher or in her study as a postgraduate student. Creswell (2008) also impulsively classified research designs into two broach categories: qualitative and quantitative approaches. Such classification has indeed limited him in providing unbiased examples for the research designs he explained. I was trying to assimilate my research to the scenarios described by him, one after another. This explains why I shifted from quasi-experiment design, to action research, and then to ethnography plus correlational study, finally (hopefully) to case study.

I like Cohen’s writing because it scared me off when I bought it five years ago, at the end of my undergrad study. It was not because I like to be scared, it was because I felt being challenged. There were so many terms and concepts about educational research which I never heard of. When I really started to use the book (although the 6th edition is now available), it directed me to study philosophy, instead of education. I was fascinated by terms like metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, positivism, antipositivism, objectivism, subjectivism, nominalism, realism, idiographic, nomothetic, voluntarism and determinism. Luckily, my seniors—Ling and Jie identified the danger of being too obsessive in philosophy and saved me (many thanks!) from digging deeper hole which may eventually burry myself in the never-ending debates of philosophy world. Anyhow, I am still feeling grateful for being introduced by Cohen to those challenging concepts, which helped me to develop my views towards the nature of the world, including my country, my family, my love and myself.

So, bother to know what’s the differences between the above mentioned research designs? Read Robert K. Yin’s Case Studies Design, 3rd edition, published in 2003. Warning: it is meant for social researchers.

July 31, 2008

Last minutism?

My undergraduate artist-like training taught me that artwork in making is ugly and incomprehensible. We never ‘complete’ a piece of art, we call an end upon it—if there were more time given, we’d continue working on it. I find writing very similar to the making of artwork. My enemy is always the time. It is not I do not want to finish my work a few days earlier; it is the unwillingness to call an end upon it, which most of the time makes me very productive when the deadline is approaching. Some people call it ‘last minutism’, I regard it as a form of dying struggle. 

July 19, 2008

First visit to Oxford: a serendipity

Writing about web page

Visiting Oxford was marked as a mojor thing to do in my stay in UK. Fortunately, I achieved this target yesterday. I joined a trip organised by Azlin, together with three other Malaysian students.

Although the main objective of this trip was to visit Blenheim Palace, which is located a few miles away from Oxford City Centre, I managed to taste the academic atmosphere of the university. A new target emerged after that: one day in the future, I will either have my sabbatical leave there or get a degree (perhaps after my retirement, preferrably in Philosophy) in University of Oxford. It is a dream now, but where there's a will, there's a way. Who dare to say I won't be able to realise my dream?

The person who led today's trip was Rizal. Rizal is doing his MBA at Warwick Business School. As an alumnus of University of Oxford, he introduced some of the magnificient colleges to us. Knowing him was a serendipity to me: Rizal is a lawyer, and he is also a boss of a game company (Mygo Solutions) in Malaysia. I agreed with him that currently there is no so-called 'game industry' in Malaysia. Most of the studios or companies are merely doing outsourcing jobs, obtained from oversea studios. If I manage to obtain my PhD in game-based learning, there will be a grand platform for me to realise my 20 years game-based learning master plan. Interested to know what's my plan? I will make it official via my sponsor in year 2011. 

Perhaps, I should work harder now...

June 30, 2008

Email to a comrade

Dear Comrade D,

Thanks for your emails.

I am alright now, though the tension (plus excitement) of carrying out the preliminary study will not end until it is carried out on Thursday. After that more work to do: using NVivo and SPSS for real to analyse those collected data. I can't wait to see the results.

If the preliminary study is successful, my confidence of completing PhD study on time is high, so goes with the probability. If it is not successful, more work needs to be done along the way. By hook or by crook, I want to get myself upgraded by the end of this year--in order to start the data collection.

Although Dr S advised me not to submit the ARM paper until next year, I will continue working on it to make it a maximum 4000 words Upgrade paper. To be frank, this is very challenging. Codensing everying into this amount of words while being able to justify the research ideas, questions, aim, design and ethical issues is very hard! My writing on research ideas and questions alone already took 2500 words! Of course, more work to do.

I have to confess, I am a workaholic. I can sit infront of my laptop working for more than 24 hours without feeling mentally tired! So, please forgive me when I put other things aside. Those other things could be family, friends, money etc etc. In a sense, it is a relatively good characteristic for anyone who wants to complete PhD within 3 years. 

Meanwhile, having good and helpful friends in the journey is extremely important at certain points. Such friends direct or even pull us back on the proper track, avoiding us to repeat their mistakes in their journey. For example, your so-called wasted one term time to complete a pilot study (like some, if not most of our seniors did) actually shed light on my path for lesson learnt. Indeed, it is not entirely wasted, although I never think that is a waste--it shaped who you are now. 

One problem I see in you, is you are not putting what you've thought or spoken into words or other meaningful symbols such as diagrams, charts, or tables. Your are good in justifying and explaining, but limited to oral phase. One suggestion of mine is to ask someone to be your sounding board and then you record what you explain and justify and code whatever you said in words. Another way, which works very well to me is to use mind mapping.

Ok. Good luck to your research journey. And try not to compare to others' research, like Prof D said to you before. Your journey is unique, like every other doctoral students.

Best regards,

Wee Hoe 

June 08, 2008

Attending conference in Univ of Cambridge

I move another step towards my "50 places to visit in UK" mission by printing my footsteps in Cambridge. Perhaps, my expectation towards her was too high. She is not as "best" as I thought she should be: as the best university in UK and the 2nd best universty in the world (2007 ranking).

No doubt, Cambridge is a beautiful place which worth more than one visit: the Fitzwilliam Museum which exhibits Pharoahs' coffins; punting on the River Cam; King's College & Qeen's College; bookshops, etc. Maybe, I visited her at the wrong time, when students were taking exams and almost all the oldest colleges are closed for examinations. 

I attended the 5th Kaleidoscope Conference at the Faculty of Education. I selectively, attended sessions on 'Innovative Approaches in Education' in the morning, and sessions on 'Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy' in the afternoon. To my surprise, although the computing facilities provided to research students are world class, the organising of the conference and the degree of innovativeness of the research done in this faculty are not as good as MMU in Malaysia. Although this is just a postgraduate level conference, it should be well organised, well chaired and well presented.

Prof Dianne Reay from Faculty of Education, gave her keynote address on 'Passion, Politics and Pride: The bumpy road from junior researcher to Professor of Education'. It was a very inspiring speech. She reconfirmed my speculation on the salary of academics in UK universities. Most junior lecturers and researchers with PhD earn less than 30K pounds in UK per year. After tax, it would be around 24K pounds.

The second keynote address was given by Prof Usha Goswami on 'Brain Science and Education'. This was the most valuable speech to me in the conference. It openned my eyes on the possible areas where brain science could be used in studying game-based learning. To me, her presentation saved Cambridge's face. 

Maybe those presenters from Faculty of Education are just the minority of Cambridge research students, or maybe they are still very new to the world of research, or maybe they just want to fill in the slots, or maybe those excellent research students don't bother to present in such level of conference, maybe... I still hope that I was mistaken about my perceptions on her.

May 20, 2008

First encounter with NVivo

"I should have attended this training during my first month of arrival. Anyhow, it's never too late to mend, I'll start using it right after this." This was what I thought during the NVivo training session. Although this software is meant for organising collected qualitative data, it could be use to organise the whole research project from the very beginning of research stage. By using this software, I gain more confidence to be able to complete my research on time.

As usual, the training was excellent. I normally evaluate a training like this: If I am going to teach another person afterward, how competence am I? Rank from 0 - 10.

As Confucious said: when you learn then you know how insufficient you are; when you teach then you know how difficult the subject matter you are dealing with. When you realise your insufficiency, you (could) think reflexively; when you realise the difficulty, you (could) improve yourself. (学然后知不足,教然后知困。 知不足,然后能自反也;知困,然后能自强也。)

As an instructor myself, I am very demanding when I try to learn a computer application via instructor-led training. She taught so well in this session, despite her illness--I gave her 10+. Bravo!

May 19, 2008

Serious Games?

As part of my research study, I am looking for reasons why some people regard game-based learning as core model that shapes the future structure of education while others insist that game is meant for leisure activities. If I integrate game and learning, then I might invade the leisure part of their living, imposing learning even when they merely want to have fun during their leisure time. They strongly oppose towards ‘serious’ game—when you make games serious, the so-called games are not games anymore.

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