Monthly Archives: October 2010

Reflection about course on qualitative research methods

This autumn I participated in the TLU’s course about qualitative research methods in educational sciences. It gives 4 ECTS and Krista Loogma was conducting the lecture. We had lecturers and seminars, where we presented our individual assignments and in the end of the course, we have now one collaborative task also.

The course was mainly for those, who have never had any experiences with qualitative research methods. So my main goal was to participate in seminars rather to hear the lectures as I have had several experiences with methods and I also participated last year science methodology course, which gave good overview.

The beginning of the course was quite intensive, during the first week I was planning to quit the course about twice a day, luckily I did not do that.

The first individual task was to prepare an overview (12 pages) of one of the qualitative research method, to illustrate it with an example and to present it to others. I chose grounded theory and it was useful task. Not the written overview part of the task, as I am not sure, why should doctoral student prepare such long written overviews, but the presentation part was useful – both hearing the others and presenting my own overview.

The next task was to conduct an interview, transcript it, write a reflection about interview process and then to categorize the interview text. Reflection part was supposed to be presented to the others. I chose one interview that was conducted actually for some time ago in the IntelLEO context. At the time, we did not had any interview plan and it was not conducted “by the book”. Probably that is the reason why I received some critics from peers and lecturer in seminar. The interview was done with the induction year teachers, to whom we presented our learning and knowledge building model, collected feedback to it, discussed the current learning and knowledge building activities in the induction year context and analyzed the role of technology in it. The main point in the feedback was that we should not have introduced our new model in the beginning of the interview, as it might have influenced the answers from the interviewees (it might have been too difficult to understand in the beginning and also it may have sound like advertisement, that we have this good model and you should use it). Instead in the beginning we should have started mapping the current situation and then move to the expected situation.

Well. The next task was to analyze one of the scientific article, that uses methodologically qualitative research method. I chose Pirkko Hyvönen’s Teachers’ Expectations of Playful Learning Environments (PLEs), because it focused on grounded theory. As theoretically I studied grounded theory in the beginning of the course, I thought it would be good to have deeper insight to some practical article. That was good choice, I received good words from lecturer and from peers and it was useful for myself also. I actually think that I’d like to use the method some day in some of my research.

Last task is to compare the categories of my interview text with one of my peer and vice versa, but as I have not received the interview text of my partner, then it is not done yet, it should be ready next week.

My impression of the course is good. I am really pleased that I did not skip it. I most enjoyed the discussions with others and each day I feel myself more confident, I am able to talk without being too nervous. The tasks were useful and lecturer pleasant.

Plans for second study year

Although it is quite clear that because of the personal life, my second study year will be more passive, than the first one was, but I think it still would be useful to make some plans for myself. As I am not able to participate so much in lecturers, seminars and other forms of contact-meetings, I should focus more on individual research as much as the new baby allows.

I would be very proud of myself, if I’d be able to during this study year:
– finally finish my long article about “Learning and knowledge building in intelligent learning extended organisations for teacher development”. I started it 11 months ago, presented it in September to the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, but it was rejected because of the wrong scope and focus. I am not saying that it is completely wrong, our article indeed focused rather on school and university partnership than on higher education alone. Last week I resubmitted it to another article, now just have to wait, but publishing this article is one of my priorities this year.
– together with Mart we presented a book chapter to the e-book about personal learning environments in August already. It was about this course that we conducted last year. It was supposed to be published in September, but as I recently heard, there are also some delays with publisher. Also publishing this article is one of my goals.
– In few days we are about to submit an article about accreditation process in Estonian teacher development context to the conference. Hopefully this will be also accepted, as the accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings which will be submitted for indexation by Thomson Reuters Conference Proceedings Citation Index, INSPEC, DBLP and EI.
– Then I hope to prepare another article about implementation process of learning and knowledge building model in teacher development process. Therefore we should conduct interviews with different stakeholders and at the moment I am not sure how am I able to do it in this winter.
– And there is quite fuzzy idea about another article about induction year teachers together with Kai and few more researchers. But this idea is so fuzzy for me that I am not sure how should I be able to contribute to it. At the moment there should be data-analysis phase and factor analysis is too much for me. I should meet face-to-face with Kai.
– Another article with Martin and Mart about Koolielu environment should also be ready, where my contribution is not too big – online teachers communities and community aspect in Koolielu.
– In Spring, we should conduct another trial with Haapsalu pre-service teachers who used portfolio-based learning environment last year for their observation practice tasks at school. In spring they should have their main school practice, therefore it would be useful to have another trial with the same students.
– I am about to finish the course in TLU about qualitative research methods, this will be my only university subject in autumn.
– Hopefully Debra summer-school will take place in spring, so I have a chance to participate there. Participation in such summer school will be useful for me, as I am still to shy to communicate with other students, especially with international students. Additionally it will give me some credits that I need.
– At the moment we are conducting in-service teachers training course about e-portfolio (second trial). It is quite sure that my another baby will join us before the end of the course, but I believe that somehow I still am able to contribute to it.
– Then together with Priit, we have one master student, who is ambitious to graduate in next spring and whose thesis is our to supervise. She will focus on implementing m-learning at school, my responsibility is to guide her on pedagogical aspects and Priit is responsible for technical aspects and scenarios.
– I should have presentation in our Kerg seminar about my PhD thesis. Last year I missed it, but in order to have credits, I have to present at least once during study year the process of thesis. This should take place in spring maybe?
– And last but not least, as a researcher, I hope to also contribute to my IntelLEO project.

I think it is not too ambitious study plan for second year, probably for the first month I will be more quietly and try to fix this new arrangement here with two little children, but probably in the beginning of next year I’ll be more in track.