April 10, 2007

Combining Research and Teaching

Discussion that took place in March 28th, 2007 among doctoral students

We started the discussion on “combining teaching and research“ by looking at teaching as a giving activity and researching as a receiving activity. We challenged ourselves to think if this is the case or how we can give evidence to the contrary. In order to help me show this idea, we used the following illustration. Guess which circle represents teaching and which one, research!

fig1

To clarify this idea, while we are wearing the “teaching hat”, for instance, we are giving explanations and answering queries. In this view, we are continuously producing outputs. On the other hand, when we are on “research mode” we are reading, thinking, summarising; to say the least. In this view again we are constantly receiving inputs.

However, this is a limited picture as while wearing the “teaching hat” we are also receiving inputs in the form of ideas from students, for example. Furthermore, we are developing research skills such as presenting our ideas and voicing our work to different audiences. In the same way, when on “research mode” we have some outputs in the form of knowledge that we will disseminate in publications and conferences.

fig2

What is more, we agreed that these activities are not contested; they are not mutually excluding each other. Look how complicated our initial picture is getting! Nonetheless, this does not mean there are not switching costs, as when we research and then we have to dedicate time to teaching we might feel we are wasting time, we may feel we are not be able to restart our work where we left it, in order to teach.

We discussed that these switching costs depend on our preference, is our heart in teaching or research? These costs may also depend on our time management skills, having a positive attitude, and our experience. There are also a couple of factors to be mentioned, one is the scale of the project and the other, the institution and/context including the curriculum and internal policies.

The last idea to discuss was again looking at research as giving a financial reward and teaching as giving a moral reward, exclusively. One shared idea was that developing research activities further gives the researcher obviously more authority and career opportunities, for example, although this may be arguable, an institution may recruit a lecturer due to their research experience.

However, this relationship is not mutually exclusive either, as research can pursue a moral reward just as teaching may have financial aim. To illustrate, generally speaking, a cancer researcher may pursue a moral aim due to a personal motivation; and more specifically at Warwick Institute of Education students may pursue a doctorate study with the purpose to improve maths teaching at school, for example. On the other hand, a teacher may pursue a financial reward by improving their practice and/or by deciding to undertake a doctorate study.


December 15, 2006

The cultural party

The cultural party

Party that took place in December Saturday 2nd, 2006 among doctoral students

Here some picts sent by Mahdi

Rossana

cultural party

cultural party

cultural party

cultural event


December 13, 2006

theoretical framework

Theoretical framework

Discussion that took place in December 13, 2006 among doctoral students

What is a theoretical framework?

We need to look for theories to support our research. We need to come back to the main and key authors on whom others have based their research.

However, as important as defining theories is important defining concepts. The way we define the main concepts in our studies will help organise our findings and justify our decisions and views.

Defining theories and concepts are never ending processes, for instance, at the stage of analysing data, we need to revise our concepts.

For some students, it might not be possible to find a theory that supports their study. Then we have to adapt what we read and join what two key authors or two main theories have said in relation to our research

Why is it important?

A theoretical framework is as important as the foundations when we are building a house. We need something solid and reliable to build on where we want to live.

Building the theoretical framework

When we read the literature, we might find gaps in the body of knowledge and it is important to acknowledge and address these uncertainties.

When we start reading for the research, we felt very motivated and
inspired by the literature, after every article of piece that we read, we
feel we have actually developed powerful ideas.

However, after reading another article or piece that we read, we feel that these ideas are not that powerful and we feel we have overestimated them; so we feel de-motivated and in despair.

This is normal and what happens is that it takes a while but at some
point, we will see those patterns in the literature that will serve us to
inform our research.

Other issues

Something that reflects who we choose to be the key-people in our research will be seen in the references at the end of the thesis. That’s why the references part is important and quick to go through for our examiners.

It is good practice to look at others’ doctoral thesis, in order to see
how others have structured and talk about their theoretical framework and other important sections such as methodology.


the first meeting

Graduate Association meeting

The first meeting of the Graduate Association took place on 4.30 12 October

Present were; Adrienne Johnson; (Juan) Pablo Mejia-Ramos; Ian Jones; Mark Childs; Issavara Sirirungruang; Anca Alba; Mahdi Dahmardeh; Jie Hu; Stuart Cadwaller; Tracy Irish; Sabina Li-yu Chang; Brian Lighthill; Natasha Leahy; Freddy James (aka The Fred); Amanda Cumberbatch; Matthew Inglis and from the Institute staff Mick Hammond, Sulochini Pather; Jonothan Neelands.

Our first meeting discussed ways in which the graduate association could work and some priorities for future events. Three key areas were suggested:

• seminars/ conferences
• social events
• communications

Ian Jones and Stewart volunteered to work on the seminars strand – this was very much a reporting of what was already offered and ideas for graduate association led events tailored to needs and interests of research student colleagues

Freddy, Amanda, Mahdi offered to explore social opportunities

Mark, Anca and Pablo offered to look at communication and suggested setting up a mail list as the most convenient form of communication within the association. (1)

Please feel free to contact anyone in these groups with suggestions.

Next meeting would report back on these areas, 4.30 1 November 2006 WE 001. Mick Hammond was asked to chair but this would be rotated meeting to meeting.

Please feel welcome to attend this next meeting even if you were unable to attend this first meeting.

(1)

A Google Group has been set up to help communication as part of the Graduate Association. The address is http://groups.google.co.uk/group/wie_graduate_association?lnk=oa&hl=en

To access the this you will need to register with Google (if you’re not already), then apply for membership to the group. If you have problems contact the owner m.childs.1@warwick.ac.uk Mark’s asked me to point out that he’s just a part-time research student and should really be focusing on his PhD, so there might be a delay before he can answer, but he’s promised to get a response to you within a week.


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  • Dear Rossana, Many thanks for uploading the photos. Now they're working. Cheers by Mahdi on this entry
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