Tag Archives: teachers

Mixed Methods – When Students Want to Stand Out

Hey guys,

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


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 ~~


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 ~~


Francesca Di Fabio 🙂