October 21

Assessment return and thoughts on student engagement

Another session has drawn to a close and I have received my marks on my final assessments in the two subjects I studied. I had a stronger showing this session and that has propmpted some reflections on the role of student engagement in achievement – at least on a personal, anecdotal level.

My research proposal for EER500 was a solid HD and would set me up nicely for considering whether I was interested in pursuing a doctorate, if only my overwhelming feeling upon completion hadn’t been “Thank goodness I don’t have to actually do this research project!” I really enjoy literature search and analysis, but I am not as enthusiastic about running the gauntlet of bureaucracy that is required to gather primary data in an educational setting.

In the case of EER500, I feel that the organisation of the class, the clarity of the assignment expectations and the enthusiasm of the instructor for the subject fostered engagement and enabled fulfilment of student potential for achievement. By clearing the road of the administrative obstacles and obstacles of unclear expectations that seemed to plague my subjects in the first session, I feel that Dr James Deehan really cleared the way for me to engage energetically with the subject and to pour my energy for the subject into the actual work, rather than into figuring out what had to get done and how to accomplish it. His obvious enthusiasm for research was infectious and helped to engage interest in what could often be considered a dry and tedious core subject.

I was on tenterhooks regarding the result for my final assessment in INF533: Literature in Digital Environments. That was a three part assessment, with Parts A, B and C already posted on this blog. The keystone of that was the digital storytelling project created for Part B. I barely scraped in to the HD level on my first assignment in this subject and I was really hoping for a good result here, but had a hard time impartially evaluating the quality of the project into which I had invested so much time, effort, and enthusiasm. I was relieved and delighted to achieve my best grade yet in the course, an HD coming in at over 95%, and it was especially gratifying to receive really positive feedback on my digital artefact from an instructor who I know to have substantial experience with digital literature.

Factors that I felt contributed to my engagement and resulting achievement in this subject were my personal enthusiasm for the topic and the freedom of choice to pursue my own interest in the creation of the digital artefact centrepiece. As I was deciding on topics for the final project, I was encouraged by others to pursue the topic that I personally felt the most passion about. That was fantastic advice, because my personal interest was a highly motivating factor in finding and compiling the materials that went into the piece. In fact, it was a bit difficult once I finished that portion of the task to a) stop fiddling with it and tweaking it, and b) write Parts A and C to accompany it.

Where does this musing lead me? I am encouraged to take my experiences as a student and the lessons of engagement and achievement I seein my own journey and apply them to my educational practice. I will look for ways to improve my organisation and administration to support my students and get administrative entanglements out of their way. I will also strive to increase my clarity in communicating expectations for learning experiences, activities, and tasks – giving students the clearest possible roadmap to successful outcomes. Finally, I will do my best to encourage student choice and pursuits of personal interest in assignments, while still fulfilling the requirements of curriculum and syllabus expectations. Now to start spruiking for job opportunities in which to implement these aspirations!

September 17

Reflecting on Literature Review for EER500

For the first assignment in the subject EER500: Introduction to Educational Research Methods, we were required to write a literature review on the topic of our choice. The purpose of the review was to identify gaps in the literature with a view towards developing a research question to be developed into a research proposal for the final assessment.

I was interested in looking more deeply into research topics surrounding digital literature with respect to primary schools as the other subject that I am taking this session is INF533: Literature in Digital Environments. My literature review can be accessed through the following link:
MSimonEER500Ass1-1ue5wjz

Continue reading

September 15

Planning a research proposal with expert hubby help

First assessments have been returned, marked, and discussed in the weekly online meeting. I am happy with my results and impressed with the amount of feedback given by the instructor, Dr James Deehan.

Now it is time to plan a research project and draft a proposal for it. We are continually reminded that we do not have to actually do the research! It may seem slightly silly, but it can get hard to remember as you go through the process of thinking about how to calculate statistics and analyse data that you won’t actually be collecting any data so you won’t really use the calculators and such. So, the reminders are gratefully received.

It has been interesting to me because this part of the subject is really giving me an opportunity to have a real academic dialogue with my husband about my course. Mostly he is on the receiving end of my tirades about subject materials or is giving me helpful, but discipline-uninformed, feedback when proofreading my papers. This time, though, he is able to pass on his experience and understanding. He is an economist and currently the Head of the Economic Research Department at the Reserve Bank of Australia. So, he knows about research methods and statistical analysis and sound study design. He has been very helpful in suggesting design ideas for my study and explaining why some choices are better than others. He has even run dummy data through STATA at work to reassure himself and show to me that the planned method should yield reliable results!

Now to move on from thinking and planning to actually writing this thing!

August 22

Post-assessment reflection: literature review

Wow! That was quite a task. I was too broad in my thinking at the beginning of the task – just knowing that I would broadly like to do something related to digital literature and primary school. Because of that, and the fact that “digital literature” may not be the best term for digital literature in the research sphere, I was at sea for quite awhile. That led to my topic narrowing in a way quite different to what I may have originally intended. My path led towards comparisons of reading on the screen vs on paper, but it was not until I had nearly finished writing the paper that I realised that I had never actually used the term “screen reading” in my searches. Ah, for the literature that I might have found had I travelled a different path!

This leads me to realise why actual student research is usually done under the supervision or advisory of someone more knowledgeable in the field than the student, and why regular research projects published in journals are often done in a team and over a longer period of time! I feel as though I poured large amounts of time and energy into the effort and barely shaved the merest shred of slushie-base from the iceberg of potential information. Hopefully that is enough for the purpose, though! Now comes the three week wait for the judgement call on that issue.

August 6

Literature search… trying to keep afloat and find my way to shore

I had hoped to make my life easier by choosing a research area that tied in with my other subject for the session “Literature in Digital Environments”. While I have found some leads in my subject readings, it is striking me as a difficult topic in which to find the type of literature for which I am searching. Hopefully as I strike some promising veins I will find enough (and not too much) to move forward with.

I am definitely feeling adrift!

July 12

Regular real-time instructor interactions – woo hoo!

Last night I attended my first online meeting for EER500: Introduction to Educational Research. Instead of module content, the instructor, Dr James Deehan, has set up a weekly reading list schedule accompanied by weekly online meetings. While I do miss the guidance and summarising of key ideas found in a module, I loved the online meeting. Full disclosure: I did not pay complete attention throughout the meeting as some of it was a review of the reading material that I felt fairly confident about. However, it gave me a chance to ask questions or make comments and receive real-time interaction with the instructor. That has happened in my other subjects – but only a handful of times throughout the session.

What excites me about this subject is knowing that he plans to do this on a regular basis – weekly, in fact! Having a predictable, regular and frequent time and space for this type of interaction is something that I profoundly missed in my subjects last session (and suspect that I will continue to miss in the majority of the ones to come). I’d better enjoy it while it lasts!

 

via GIPHY

P.S. It doesn’t hurt that he is a funny and engaging speaker who is passionate about his subject!

References

GIPHY. (n.d.). I’m so excited GIF [GIF}. Retrieved from https://giphy.com/gifs/im-so-excited-rFyZaxsIWaHx6.

July 8

A weak weekly reflection on EER500

I was hoping to get more work done in this last pre-session week but ended up with more on my non-uni plate than I anticipated.

So far I have read the first two chapters of the textbook and taken the Quiz Zone quizzes for them. I blame my one mistake on a misreading, probably due to reading on the computer (though to be honest, I have been mis-reading and mis-hearing things all over the place this week… perhaps more sleep is needed!) In any event, your answer is sure to suffer when you read “quantitative” and the question is actually referring to “qualitative” research theory and methodology. I do feel this validates my decision to read the main textbook in print rather than digital format (Simon, 2018).

As I read through the various epistemological and ontological considerations and positions and the implications for research strategies and methods, I found the following quote from Keith Punch to be inspiring:

But we can proceed to do research, and to train researchers, mindful of those debates yet not engulfed by them, and without necessarily yet being able to see their resolution. In other words, we can acknowledge the connections of methods to these deeper issues, and discuss them from time to time as they arise , without making them the major focus of this book , or of our research. (Punch, 2009, p. 20)

References

Punch, K. (2009). Theory and method in education research. In Introduction to research methods in education (p. 20). London: Sage Publications.

Simon, M. (2018, June 29). Favored format: sifting through textbook options [Blog post]. Retrieved July 7, 2018 from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mrssimonsays/2018/06/29/favored-format-sifting-through-textbook-options/.

June 29

Favored format: sifting through textbook options

This is the first subject that I am doing in this course that has a textbook prescribed. It looks as though that textbook will be thoroughly used, too; the schedule lists every chapter (as far as I could tell) in the weekly readings columns.

There were four reasonable options open to me regarding textbook access:
1. Do my readings by accessing the digital version of the text available through the CSU library.
2. Borrow a hard copy version of the text from the CSU library.
3. Purchase a second-hand copy of either the most recent or previous version of the text.
4. Purchase a new copy of one of the acceptable editions of the text.

I did my readings for the first two subjects in this course almost entirely in digital format. In light of some of the research that indicates that we process and regulate study behaviours around on-screen reading differently to on-paper reading (Ackerman & Goldsmith, 2011), and especially findings that suggest that comprehension can suffer with on-screen reading (Mangan as reported in Grothaus, 2017), I was keen to have such a crucial element of this subject as a hard copy print text. I may keep the digital version as a backup functionality and download select pdfs of passages that I think I am likely to want to refer to in assignments and store them somewhere with the capacity for in-document searching. Continue reading