Let’s Talk Phenomenological Research Design & Ideas for My Research Proposal ~

~~ PART 1 ~~

Right away, specifically the first line of this research article, “A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated” by Thomas Groenewald, I instantly could agree, and can personally relate too, “Novice researchers are often overwhelmed by the plethora of research methodologies, making the selection of an appropriate research design for a particular study difficult (Groenewald, 42). I feel the weight of this line right now as I’m midst collecting sources and research on the topic concerning unconscious and conscious states and creativity. There are several underlying subfields I can tie into this topic, like suppressed childhood emotional trauma, and how such experiences impact the cognitive function of generating creative ideas. However, if I were to analyze the impact of “suppressed childhood trauma” on the conscious and unconscious functionating of generating and selecting creative ideas, this research inquiry question would involve more discomfort on behalf of the subjects, and would not be considered a “minimal risk” research study  

So, I continued to think on my central research topic idea (the human conscious levels & creativity). I re-arranged some of my inquiry questions so that they direct an understanding toward the creative writing processes or artistic-creative processes of college students who actively engage in a form of art-expression. Perhaps, my research subjects could be students from Kean University who actively practice and participate in some form of art expression, which could be writing, painting, drawing, crocheting, singing, or playing an instrument, creating pottery, or taking photos.

I would then maybe design survey questions and open-ended response questions that would essentially verbally walk me through their creative mental processes and how they prepare to connect with such cognitive states. I would have to spend a lot of time making sure that my survey questions are appropriately geared toward questioning the research phenomena I wish to understand. I would then do a deep analysis on the recorded answers to understand their cognitive creative processes and how their creative mental states impact their overall well-being or mental health (or how they feel about themselves after engaging in their form of art expression). I’ve also considered, perhaps, implementing an in-person observation, where I would observe my selected subjects in action while they compose or create their chosen form of art. I would have to pre-prepare specific categories to keep an eye out for during my in-person observations like their facial gestures, body language, the number of times paused for deeper thought and consideration, and their overall focus and attention span. I’ve gathered around 8 research articles (and conducted studies) on my topic of inquiry.

My research inquiry question went from  “How do unconscious thinking processes impact or directly affect the formation or selection of creative and innovative ideas and thoughts?”  to, “How does the unconscious processing of childhood trauma influence cognitive creative functioning and the emergence of creative ideas in adulthood?”  to then,“How does the unconscious creative processes of college students impact their overall mental health and wellbeing?”

I realized that studying internalized, suppressed trauma will be exceedingly difficult.  However, I’m still interested in how unconscious mind states or how unconscious processes impact the quality of creativity, and the generation of such ideas. For example, when I’m stressed because of arthritic pains or personal family issues, I find it much harder for me as a writer to locate ideas and search within for some sign of motivation or inspiration. So, with that established reality, my inquiry question now stands at: “How do unconscious thinking processes among college students at Kean University influence their cognitive creative functioning and the emergence of creative ideas in early adulthood? As a result, how do the unconscious creative processes of college students impact their overall mental health and wellbeing?”

Humans are creative beings filled with endless potential and curiosity. However, when confronted with the realities of life (etc., work, school, chores, personal responsibilities), the endless opportunity for creativity becomes very much limited. Hence, why I would love to investigate this research topic to understand the diversity in unconscious creative processes, and in hopes to find remedies or ways in which to help creative individuals re-connect with their form of art expression when under stress or any environmental turmoil.

~~ PART 2 ~~

Alrighty, a lot has already been said and if you’re still reading this blog post, you are super dope  I’m going to now direct my attention to this week’s selected research article, A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated” by Thomas Groenewald. First off, I appreciate how this research article’s aim is to educated novice researchers (like us) about the phenomenology method approach to research design and implementation. One of the main reasonings to why Groenewald conducted a research design that essentially functions as a researcher’s guide on conducting phenomenological research was because “[he even] experienced major difficulty in finding literature that provides guidelines on conducting phenomenological research” (43). So, technically, Groenewald’s research serves to fill the missing gap in literature regarding research teaching and learning practices on research methodology.

Phenomenology is a qualitative research approach that seeks to understand and describe the experiential, lived aspects of a particular phenomenon more deeply. It is evident that phenomenology seeks to understand beyond the external factors involved in a particular phenomenon, as Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938) argued, “that people can be certain about how things appear in, or present themselves to, their consciousness” (Groenewald, 43). Interestingly enough, “To arrive at certainty, anything outside immediate experience must be ignored, and in this way the external world is reduced to the contents of personal consciousness. Realities are thus treated as pure ‘phenomena’ and the only absolute data from where to begin” (Groenewald, 43). I’ve noticed some similarities or connections between my research topic inquiry question, and the contents that make up Husserl’s philosophical method, or phenomenology. My topic question aims to analyze a conscious-subjective experience unique to one’s thinking patterns and forms of self-expression; therefore, perhaps, I could possibly use phenomenology as my chosen research method.

I’m resisting the urge to add more to this blog post, but I’d love to hear some feedback or advice on my research question & if ya’ll think I’m headed in the right direction. I feel like I’m blindly leading myself through all this research, and ahhh – I just don’t know . . .

**Link attached to image**

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 🙂

track 09. phenomenology pt. ii

In “A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated,” Thomas Groenewald gives a brief history of phenomenology, describes his research paradigm, and then describes how he gathered data for his phenomenological research. A point made during the history section that resonated with me quite a bit was when Groenewald stated “…we are all born phenomenologists; the poets and painters among us, however, understand very well their task of sharing, by means of word and image, their insights with others -an artfulness that is also laboriously practised by the professional phenomenologist” (44). Reading this was a light bulb moment for myself as I never thought about how similar poetry is to the work a phenomenologist would do; it honestly makes the idea of attempting phenomenological research more appealing as it feels more familiar, and I feel I’d benefit from the use of my transferable skills. With both the recent sharing of Gianna Lepanto’s MA Thesis Proposal and Lit Review, as well as this sentence, I wonder if our research proposal for this class could be approached with a creative project in mind.

Another part of this article that helped make a phenomenological approach feel more feasible is the mention of “snowball sampling” as a method to find participants (46). Frankly, the last article left me at a bit of a loss when it came to the idea of finding participants; I may have even mentioned this as one of my concerns when in my TROIKA group with Thuy and Tyler. After all, not all of us could be so lucky as to know seven people willing to be so open for the specific study we’re attempting to undertake (let alone industry professionals in that field). I say that a bit in jest, but the idea of having to be “in the know” or “have connections” made me bemoan the idea of actively searching for individual participants; I imagined it to be like modern dating, but worse, because I would be much more distraught over my research being unable to continue than my dating life. Groenewald also mentioning that a sample size of about ten participants max “as sufficient to reach saturation” helps alleviate a previous concern I had with the previous article, namely that the sample size was “too small” (46). In retrospect, because of how intensively phenomenologists work with these participants, ten seems like a solid number to aim for, time and gatekeepers considered.

While writing this blog post, I listened to Frank Ocean’s visual album “Endless” (2016). It’s the project by him that I put on the least, so I’m trying to make up for lost time; funnily enough, I’ve seen this visual album less times than I’ve heard it, so maybe I should watch it the next time I want to put it on.