blog #11 mixed methods// more research proposal updates


Well, we’ve come a long way this spring semester. We have indulged in many research methods to assist us in our final thesis paper. This week, we have had the pleasure of being introduced to our last method! Mixed methods woohoo, which kind of plays out really well. Mixed methods are essentially a combination of two methods, which we have already learned about! So, at least it’s not new territory. Truth be told, before I started reading, I did not prepare myself for the reading to be about “Mixed Methods”. I figured it would be shown in the title. However, when I did start reading, I kept noticing the word “Discourse” which had me wondering if I was reading the completely wrong paper. I digress. I believe we spoke about mixed methods in the beginning of the semester. It’s a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Although the reading kept mentioning “Uniqueness-seeking theory”, which once gain kept me in a state of doubt. We start with a study that involves participants from a graduate level course with different needs of uniqueness within their online classroom discussions. Since mixed methods make up quantitative and qualitative approaches, case study and discourse analysis fill in those roles. The researchers use case study to collect data, create surveys, and develop transcripts. Whereas with discourse analysis, the researchers are studying their participants, comparing, social practices, and overall a qualitative finding. ONE THING I DO HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS READING IS THAT, THE MENTION OF DISCOURSE WAS A TAD CONFUSING. I UNDERSTAND WHY BUT FROM WHAT I REMEMBER ABOUT DISCOURSE ANALYSIS, IT WAS RESEARCH ABOUT THE INTERPRETATION OF LANGUAGES AND CULTURE IN A SENSE. I DON’T KNOW IF ITS JUST ME BUT I DON’T THINK THE MENTION OF DISCOURSE WORKED FOR THIS RESEARCH.

NOW, ONTO THE DRAFT OF OUR RESEARCH PROPOSAL. I HAVE DEFINITELY COMPLETED MORE THAN LAST WEEK. I HAVE 6 SUPPORTING ARTICLES SO FAR, BUT IM HAVING TROUBLE FINDING MORE. I TOOK FRAN’S SUGGESTION AND CHANGED UP MY THESIS QUESTION BECAUSE MY PREVIOUS PROPOSAL SEEMED QUITE BROAD. I THINK THATS WHY IVE BEEN A LITTLE BEHIND TRULY… I SPENT SO MUCH TIME MAKING SURE THIS RESEARCH QUESTION ISN’T TOO BROAD, OR EVEN TOO VAGUE AT THAT. FURTHERMORE, I’M MENTIONING THIS IN MY PROPOSAL. BUT ARTICLES ON MY TOPIC ARE REALLY LACKING! I ALSO have already finished my 2-3 page introduction,, but i still have more tweaks, as this is still a draft. the only thing thats worrying me is the lack of supporting articles out there. my new research question is: “The goal of this study is to understand how educators in American public and private schools balance the demands of their profession with their own mental health struggles. And what coping mechanisms and support systems do they use to maintain their well-being in this challenging environment”. Now, how will I achieve this goal? A qualitative practice, as well as a personal connection would work best with this research. I will use case study to investigate and collect data from participants of this study. With a combination of autoethnography, due to my personal real life experiences from me being a former educator. As a result of my connections, I am surrounded by all kinds of educators in my Graduate Program, along with my former colleagues in the field. I have written out a lot more but this is more progress than i had last week. i appreciate all of the help from my peers. it has made this whole process a lot less anxiety ridden.

The Last Post: Mixed Methods

After reading the last article, “When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness,” I started thinking about the journey I’ve been on, learning about all of the different research methods we have covered in this class. I certainly know more now than I did when the class began, and it was interesting to see how the authors of this study chose to mix together two methods with which we are familiar, discourse analysis and constant comparison. The purpose of the study was “to explore how students with different needs for uniqueness participated in online classroom discussion and to examine their collaborative interaction in the dialogic process of the discussion” (Yu et al. 1).

The reasons that a person might seek uniqueness or avoid it and the ways that a person might express that need in an online discussion can be so varied that I wondered how the researchers would attempt to measure students’ uniqueness needs. It does seem like the methods that they chose were appropriate for the task, and including surveys in the design of the research makes sense to me. But the researchers did express that it was impossible for them to account for all potential variables: “The dynamic nature of online discussion entailed that more factors than simply uniqueness-seeking needs seemed involved in explaining students’ contributions” (Yu et al. 1). I can easily think of many variables that would influence my own participation in online discussions and have nothing to do with my interest in uniqueness (energy level, comfort and/or history with the other group members, my command of or interest in the reading, personal situations, events immediately preceding class, illness, uncertainty about the goal of the exercise, etc.), and I’m surprised that none of these occurred to the researchers. For me, this study was a lesson in how careful consideration of the set-up of a study in its early stages is essential to its success. This study took up a lot of the researchers’ time and involved a great deal of effort and, unfortunately, their lack of foresight prevented them from getting a clear answer to their research inquiry.

I wrote a blog post earlier in the semester in which I echoed Fran’s concern about going down a wrong path in one’s research. These researchers used discourse analysis (in part) and, in the end, had little to show for their efforts. Because I also intend to use discourse analysis, that old fear crept back into my mind. I’m trying to focus on the fact that I am following a different line of inquiry than theirs and I can learn from their mistakes. I’m feeling cautious but hopeful.

Mixed Methods – When Students Want to Stand Out

Hey guys,

~~ Whatever thoughts came to mind while reading, I recorded ~~

MIXED METHODS ARTICLE REACTION:

After skimming through this week’s assigned research article, “When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness” by Li-Tang Yu, et al., I definitely felt a personal connection to the objective of the study, exploring how students with different needs for uniqueness participated in online classrooms, or virtual learning experience. My first question before delving into the introduction section was, “What constitutes a student to have ‘different needs for uniqueness?’

At first guess, I assumed this specified group of students to each have either a learning disability, mental illness, or some form of cognitive impairment. Perhaps, students with physical-limitations due to chronic disease or sudden injury, or maybe those who have neurodivergent qualities found on the autism spectrum disorder. Harnessing the motivation to participate in an online class is a challenging task, especially for the students who lack the confidence in themselves to speak up and ask for help. As I continued on reading this study, I was continually bombarded with zoom university flashbacks. What a wild and eerie time ~~

 I remember, although I struggled to adjust at first, I enjoyed the time spent learning in online classroom platforms. In the comfort of my own home. Bathroom break on my command. Time felt slower, and I felt more in control of my learning and weekly time-planning. My difficulties adjudging (or “assimilating”) to and back from the online learning world to the physical classroom, in a way, supports what Brewer (1991) had said about Synder and Fromkin’s (1980) Uniqueness Theory, which is that social identity is derived from two opposing forces, assimilation, and differentiation form others. This makes total sense – humans carry with them an embedded biological need or want to belong, to be a part of a safe community with like-minded individuals. Yet, humans also want an occasional ego-boost so that they feel different, noticed, and perhaps, appreciated.

I will end this blog post with this quote, “Because individuals are said to vacillate between wanting to belong and wanting to stand out and be recognized for their unique contribution to a group, Kreiner, Hollensbe, and Sheep (2006) suggested that one’s need to be unique is likely to affect identity work, which in turn seems essential to the internalization of academic discourse (Duff, 2010)” (by Li-Tang Yu, et al., 1). This quote emphasizes the unfolding connection between the need and want to belong, and yet to also feel uniquely different is a defining identity characteristic, which will inevitably influence or impact the internalization of academic discourse. By the way, I don’t know, if what I’m saying or trying to articulate here in this blog post, even makes sense ~~

UPDATE ON RESEARCH PROPOSAL DRAFT:

Okay, so now I’ll try and sum up what’s going on with my research proposal drafting process, in which I obviously plan to work on more so later today. I have a lot of words and ideas on pages right now, which is good yet overwhelming me with how easily I can lose track of my own thought-writing-planning process. As for the sources for my literature review, I have accumulated 14 solid research articles so far, and have annotated seven of them [in which are still considered in the drafting citation phase]. The seven annotated articles were thoroughly skimmed through several of times and chosen to be cited within my introduction section because of their closer relevance to my inquiry question, similar participant demographic, or thoughtful discussion on the different thinking styles and states of human consciousness.

My introduction is still a mess; paragraphs with great detail and quality content sporadically placed throughout my document. I’m a messy writer, and often write what comes to mind or feels write, then go back to read some of the research articles in hopes to revisit my messy draft for refinement, deleting paragraph-ideas that no longer serve the direction of where my research inquiry question is intending to go. I have refined my research question multiple times, and now feel satisfied with it. I feel fine in terms of finding research article sources, annotating, and finding connections within and between them.

However, I am struggling with the construction and organization of my methodology section. I’ve planned out some draft ideas of data collection methods based on the phenomenological approach to research design. I’m definitely researching a phenomenon – the emergence of cognitive creative functioning and influence on self-identity amongst Kean University students.

I’m choosing to do a small focus group sampling size of ten students, who each leisurely practice a form of artistic-creative expression. The ten students can be from either an undergraduate or graduate program at Kean. I would like to plan for only two students to engage in the same form of artistic-creative expression. This means 10 different students but only 5 different forms of creative expression will be analyzed in my study. This way I can conduct deep cross-comparative analysis between the creative processes of students engaging in the same form of creativity (e.g., two students painting or drawing as a form of creative expression) and between those engaging in different forms of creative expression (e.g., dancing as a form of creative expression vs. writing).

I plan on implementing structured and unstructured interviews with participants before, during, and after their engaged experience of creative production. For this to happen, there will need to be three separate phases or stages of the interview process. The first stage will be a structured individual interview, with some open-ended questions with each participant. The second stage will involve unstructured, conversational questions while directly observing and note taking the engagement and production of creativity at hand (individually, not as a group). And the third stage will be the reflective focus group gathering, where I pose questions as a frame of guidance but will ultimately let the participants lead the discuss on their creative experience, associated feelings or attitudes all throughout, setbacks or unforeseen challenges, insights, or revelations of any kind. My observational notes on the creative productions and the reflective focus group discussion will count as data for this study, and I will use thematic analysis to identify common themes, or patterns of meaning that come up repeatedly.

That’s all I got for this week ~~ my brain feels heavy, and my eyes now hurt but hey, we are almost to the finish line ~~

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 🙂