ED 633 Week Two (Spring 2022)

Hi everyone,

If you happened to notice a change to the schedule on the syllabus, you noticed correctly. I had initially intended to be well through chapter two of our textbook this week, but after giving it some thought, I felt as though the importance of this chapter requires more thought and reflection. I tried to resist jumping into the methodologies without building a strong basic understanding. When I look through other textbooks I am reminded how quickly they jump into methodology specifics and techniques of application. But if you are able to feel confident regarding the big ideas in this first chapter of our text, I believe you will be in a much better position to make good choices as you move into your own research. I try to remind myself:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

So, if by the end of this week you understand the content in chapter one of our textbook, you will be well positioned to move forward confidently.

 

I hope you enjoyed thinking about research last week. The big idea last week was that the one thing that drives all research is the desire to find answers to our questions. Of course these aren’t the sorts of questions that we can simply look up on the internet. These are questions into the unknown. Furthermore, we question in such a way that we might develop our understanding enough to change our practice for the better. This already presumes a lot. It presumes that we have a pretty good sense of what our practice entails. And, it presumes that we already have some idea of what we are trying to achieve. However, we still recognize that there is a lot we don’t understand so we, as Stuart Firestein says, we fart around. We continually wonder, question, reflect, and try things out. We search for that elusive answer, whatever it is.

Last week I mentioned how this can initially be difficult for many people. We have spent so many years in school being told what to do, how to do it, and that the best practice has already been established for us. It can be difficult to adopt the mindset that we will figure out what to do, we will figure out how to do it, and that best practice has yet to be established, so we will figure out what best practice is.

This change in mindset is one of the reasons graduate classes differ from undergraduate classes. In graduate classes, we all recognize that the best is yet to come. Graduate classes are designed to hone that curiosity, admitting that what we do, and what we know, is tentative at best.

Our adoption of questioning by research pushed the bounds of ignorance. Research and content should, as Firestein articulated in his talk on ignorance, present us with more questions, more uncertainties, not fewer.

When we began thinking about research, the purpose is clear. It is often helpful to think of everything we do, or try to understand having a purpose — and In-order-to. We do research in order to understand something in such a way that we can change our practice. That seems easy enough. When we begin our attempt at understanding we question, wonder, challenge our thinking, etc. That is the form our attempts at initial research continually take. This purpose and form will always reside in the background of our research pursuits, even when we have established and adopted particular methodologies to answer our questions. If there is a foundation or essence to research, this might be it.

We feel the act of question and wonder in our bodies. We know what if feels like to be open to change, to anticipate or solidify ideas, to wonder.

And even though at this early stage, we might well know that there are methodologies available to us, our method is rather loose and malleable.

Finally, we find ourselves in many different situations where our wondering is relevant — whether education situations, business, health, administration, etc.

 

 

If we don’t hang on to this foundational way of thinking about research, we can find ourselves acting in a rather automatic or robotic fashion. When we lose sight of this initial purpose and form, we can fall into the trap of following a recipe or jumping through hoops. People who do research love it because this purpose, in order to change our practice (our lives) that make for a better existence, is a continual motivator.

At some point we make the decision to use a method or approach to find answers to our questions. Before jumping into a specific method, it is important to have a sense of the sort of search that would be appropriate for our questions. As we develop our research understanding we begin to formulate different ways of approaching our questioning. We find that there are different forms that seem to address our questions in ways that might seem more appropriate to the question at hand.

Dr. Kanjar, the author of our textbook, lays this idea out nicely in the first chapter. He looks at the research endeavor from different perspectives. These perspectives help us categorize our thinking. You will notice that the three perspectives He points out that a research endeavor can be broadly classified as descriptive, exploratory (forgive my spelling on my diagram), correlational, or explanatory.

He writes:

“A research study classified as a descriptive study attempts to describe systematically a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme, or provides information about, say, the living conditions of a community, or describes attitudes towards an issue. ” . . .

“The main emphasis in a correlational study is to discover or establish the existence of a relationship/association/interdependence between two or more aspects of a situation. ” . . .

“Explanatory research attempts to clarify why and how there is a relationship between two aspects of a situation or phenomenon. ” . . .

“The fourth type of research, from the viewpoint of the objectives of a study, is called exploratory research. This is when a study is undertaken with the objective either to explore an area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking a particular research study. ” . . .

 

 

In each case, the specifics of the materials (the methodologies) will change. And the bodily experiences will change as well. This bodily experience will be somewhat different depending on the extent to which the phenomenon in question is removed from us.

You see, when you are researching, there is always a way of observing and recording what one observes as if one if very close to the object or phenomenon, or if one is removed from the object or phenomenon to that it is easier to see relationships.

Let me give show you an example that I use in my ED 632 class. It is an example of objectification. You will notice in the following videos two different sorts of experiences. In each case, the first video of each pair would represent an experience whereby one is tries to get at the human experience. This might represent a descriptive experience, or a qualitative experience. The second video of each set places the observer at a distance so that it is easier to see how different objects might relate to each other. This allows for the ability to measure objects.

I think this will make it very clear why one sort of research perspective or methodology might be very inappropriate for some sorts of questions. For example, if you were wondering what motocross racers feel when they are racing, and if you wanted to describe in detail those sorts of bodily experiences, then the lived perspective and descriptive methodology would be a far more appropriate way to find answers to those questions than a spectator (quantitative) view.

Let’s have a look.

 

First: Spectator from a distance.

Crowd View
RedBud 450 Moto 2: Ken Roczen vs. Trey Canard

If you watch the first minute or so you will get the idea of viewing from a distance.

 

 

So as we watch this we can see when Trey Canard has the lead over Ken Roczen. We can see them moving in relation to each other. We can see where they are positioned on the track in relation to the finish line. Both Canard and Roczen are discrete measurable objects–we are spectators. But we know that our distant perspective is not a good representation of the racers’ perspectives. They are, in a sense, letting themselves go, allowing their bodies to instinctually race.

 

Second: The lived view.

Have a look at Ryan Villopoto racing at the Monster Energy Cup in 2012.

Again, a short viewing will give you the idea. Or if you are like me, you will crank up the volume, set the video to play full screen, and watch the whole thing 🙂

 

 

Of course, both views are spectator views (viewed from cameras). But I hope you notice a significant difference here. If you wanted to describe the way someone experiences racing, this might be a better perspective.

Here are two more.

 

Observer perspective.

Video of the Year: Best Mountain Bike Shot Ever

 

Individual Lived perspective.

 

GoPro: Backflip Over 72ft Canyon – Kelly McGarry Red Bull Rampage 2013

 

Once again we experience two different perspectives here. And if we were researching some sort of phenomena, we would choose a perspective that would better reveal appropriate answers or insights.

Let’s re-read the different perspectives described by Dr. Kumar. You might have a better sense of the bodily experience we have as researchers as we pursue our questions:

“A research study classified as a descriptive study attempts to describe systematically a situation, problem, phenomenon, service or programme, or provides information about, say, the living conditions of a community, or describes attitudes towards an issue. ” . . .

This sounds as if one is trying to experience what it feels like to be in the situation. This would be closer to a lived experience.

“The main emphasis in a correlational study is to discover or establish the existence of a relationship/association/interdependence between two or more aspects of a situation. ” . . .

Here we are looking from a distance, trying to witness relationships and associations and then, probably, measuring the interactions in some way. (One rider is out in front. The second rider is close behind and slowing catching up at a rate of one second per 400 feet.)

“Explanatory research attempts to clarify why and how there is a relationship between two aspects of a situation or phenomenon. ” . . .

Either a spectator view or a lived perspective might be appropriate here.

“The fourth type of research, from the viewpoint of the objectives of a study, is called exploratory research. This is when a study is undertaken with the objective either to explore an area where little is known or to investigate the possibilities of undertaking a particular research study. ” . . .

In this case, we might start with a lived perspective, trying to feel what a phenomenon is, and we might then transition toward the spectator view as we start to tease apart the ‘things’ we are observing.

Broadly speaking, and a simple way to think about all of this is that when we measure and compare (quantitative) we usually take a spectator view. When we describe (qualitative) we usually adopt and lived perspective.

In addition we might think of a more structured approach as being quantitative. And a less structured approach as being qualitative. When we combine the methods, we have what we refer to as mixed methods.

Let us carry on with our make-believe interview. You have already introduced yourself to the interview committee, and have talked a bit about the purpose of research. We will continue with question four.

Question 1: Thanks for being here and talking with us today. We are excited to hear about your research and the way you think about research. Before we begin, would you please tell us your name, and what interests you?

Question 2: Our first question is this: What is research? And how do you see research relating to practice?

Question 3: How does one come up with research questions?

 

Questions continued:

As mentioned last week, if you can, use the Feynman technique and try to answer these questions as if you are explaining them to a novice. For our interview role-play, you are trying to answer these questions without notes or additional resources — as if you are simply talking about these ideas in an interview setting.

Question 4: Broadly speaking, a research endeavor can be classified as descriptive, correlational, explanatory, or exploratory. How would you describe each of those?

Question 5: Can you give a couple of examples of Descriptive research?

Question 6. Would you please share with us a couple of example of Explanatory research?

Question 7: And, would you provide a couple examples of the sorts of questions we might be asking when adopting Correlational research?

Question 8: We do have students in our program wanting to do research, though they are sometimes unclear as to the differences between quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches to research. How would you explain the differences between the three approaches? 

 

I hope you are able to finish reading Chapter One. Next week we will begin looking at the Research Process.

Until then, have a great week!