What if you’re wrong? A question for researchers

July 14, 2017

Part of my work involves coaching graduate students who are learning to become researchers. It is not uncommon for students to start out their journey thinking that research is about proving what you already know – or think you know. And so, we start out our journey with some provocative questions, designed to break away from entrenched ways of thinking about the world.

A couple of questions my students hear me ask like a broken record are:

  • How do you define… ? (e.g. How do you define “leadership”?)
  • What counts as… And how do you know? (e.g. What counts as “the right answer” and how do you know?)
  • According to whom…? What literature have you consulted to substantiate this claim? (e.g. “Leadership, according to whom? What literature have you consulted to substantiate this claim?)

As we evolve as researchers, we necessarily dig deep into these kinds of questions.

When you become a “Master Researcher” (which is effectively what you have signed up for with a Master’s degree), you come to realize that it is no longer enough to “just know” something. We recognize that our personal experience, however powerful, is limited. We not only understand, but we insist on acknowledging, that what we think we know might be wrong.

I often ask students, “What if you’re wrong?”

If the first reaction to that question is a visceral twisting of your gut, a gob smacked open mouth and an instant response of “I am not wrong!” Well, then… you’re probably wrong. And chances are, you have some “un-learning” to do before you can produce quality research in the social sciences (or perhaps any field).

Once you get to the point where you can react with deep curiosity, with a surprising dose of delight and your instant response is, “Well, indeed! What IF I am wrong? What would that mean? I have no idea. I could be wrong. Hmmm… What a delicious puzzle. I really want to understand what would mean to be wrong, as much as it would to be right. Let the discovery begin!”

The less attached we become to being “right”, the more skilled of a researcher we can become.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Indigenous Research Methodologies: Resources and Readings

July 7, 2017

Let me start by stating the obvious. I am not an Indigenous person and as such, my understandings of Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding the world are limited. Having said that, I find myself working with students who want to conduct research about Indigenous issues. When that happens, I counsel my students to consider using Indigenous research methodologies to shape and inform their projects, as opposed to relying only on sources that have been so-far accepted as being “the norm” in Western educational research context.

Here is a list of some resources students have shared with me. In turn, I share them here. I do not claim that this is a complete or exhaustive list, but rather it is a starting point.

It is important for me to add that I also counsel students to work with one or more members of the Indigenous communities they wish to study to receive authentic guidance on their projects.

Resources

  • Absolon, K. E. (2012). Kaandossiwin: how we come to know. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishers.
  • Brown, L., & Strega, S. (Eds.). (2005). Research As Resistance:critical, indigenous and anti-oppressive approaches. Toronto: Canadian Scholars.
  • Cadwallader, N., Quigley, C., Yazzie-Mintz, T. (2011). Enacting decolonized methodologies: The doing of research in educational communities. Qualitative Inquiry (18)1, 3-15
  • Chilisa, B. (2012). Indigenous reserach methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Kovach, M. (2010). Conversational method in Indigenous research. First Peoples Child and Family Review,5(1), 40-48.
  • Kovach, M. (2010). Indigenous methodologies: characteristics, conversations and contexts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Lambert, L. (2014). Research for indigenous survival: Indigenous research methodologies in the behavioral sciences. Brantford, ON: Salish Kootenai College Press.
  • Lavallé, L. (Producer). (2016). Reconciling Ethical Research with Métis, Inuit, and First Nations People (video). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/D5qh7MY4el0
  • Ledoux, J. (2006). Integrating Aboriginal perspectives into curricula: A literature review. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 26(2), 265-288.
  • Lincoln, Y. S., Tuhiwai Smith, L., & Denzin, N. K. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Mertens, D. M., Cram, F., & Chilisa, B. (Eds.). (2013). Indigenous pathways into social research: Voices of a new generation. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Michell, H. (2009). Gathering berries in northern contexts: A Woodlands Cree metaphor for community-based research.  Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 7(1): 65-73.
  • Mihesuah, D. A., & Wilson, A. C. (Eds.). (2004). Indigenizing the academy: Transforming scholarship and empowering communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/334026
  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. New York: Zed Books Ltd.
  • Wotherspoon, T. (2006). Teachers’ ’work in Aboriginal communities. Comparative and International Education Society, 50(4), 672-694.
  • Wallace, & Rick. (2011). Power, practice and a critical pedagogy for non-Indigenous allies. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 31(2).
  • Walter, M., & Andersen, C. (2013). Indigenous Statistics: a quantitative research methodology. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Wilson, S. (2001). What is Indigenous reserach methodology. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(2), 175-179.
  • Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony- Indigenous research methods. Halifax: Fernward Press.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Making evidence informed decisions about formative written feedback for ELLs

July 6, 2017

iStock-woman at laptopI have been working on a research project with a former student, Lorelei Anselmo, about providing effective formative effective feedback for English Language Learners.

Here’s a piece featured on the Werklund School of Education’s “Research@Werklund” site:

Providing post-secondary ELLs with high quality feedback

Formative assessment provides students with feedback that focuses on growth, rather than a grade. Effective formative feedback can help students demonstrate that learning has taken place, and that the learners have used the suggestions to improve their work. Students who can reflect and act on feedback are more likely to be successful in their academic tasks – however, students of all ages must be taught how to use and apply feedback for it to be impactful.

In a study on international post-secondary English language learners (ELLs), Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton and Lorelei Anselmo, a Werklund MEd graduate, interviewed and surveyed 19 learners on their experiences with formative feedback, both in their home countries, and in Canada. The researchers examined what it means to deliver high quality feedback to students about their writing, and how these students perceive and experience receiving feedback. Read more…

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This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

 


Summer course – Research Methodology in Education

June 19, 2017

I am pleased to be teaching Research Methodology in Education this summer for our Master of Education students. This is an online course offered from July 4 to August 16, 2017.

Course description

This first course in educational research methodologies provides the background necessary to make intelligent decisions around the kinds of research questions that might be asked and the sort(s) of insights and answers particular methods can provide.

Learner outcomes

Throughout the course of study students will be able to:

  • Identify viable and interesting research questions, both in their own potential research endeavours and in the work of published academics
  • Identify, compare and critique a variety of educational research methodologies based on their primary assumptions and methods
  • Evaluate the relevance of educational research methodologies with special consideration being given to stated research questions and the knowledge being sought
  • Differentiate between the central tenets of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis strategies with special consideration being given to the strengths, weaknesses and relevance of each in education
  • Assess the validity of a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, commonly used in education
  • Examine and interrogate the relationships between research questions, research methods and interpretation of findings in educational studies
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical issues in educational research, particularly with regard to the use of human participants
  • Formulate and evaluate their own preliminary research questions in response to both their research interests and professional context
  • Understand how action research applies to educational settings and contexts

Required readings

Creswell, J. W. (2014).  Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed).  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Hendricks, C. (2016). Improving schools through Action Research: A reflective practice approach (4th ed.), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Here’s a copy of the course outline: EDER_603.21_Su2017_Eaton_approved

This marks the tenth time I have taught this course online. I love working with students to help them gain a strong foundation in research methodology. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s group!

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This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

 


Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23)

May 11, 2017

U of C logo - 2015I am feeling energized! This spring, I get to teach one of my all-time favourite courses: Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23). I’ll be working with Master of Education (M.Ed.) students to help them craft a term paper into a manuscript for publication.

Why do I love this course? Because it generates results! Some of the students who take this course really do end up getting their work published in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, books and professional publications. Here are some real-life examples of students who have taken this course with me and have published their work:

There are additional students who have written to me to tell me they have manuscripts in progress. I really love to see authentic, real-world outcomes from student learning and these are some fabulous examples.

Course description

Here is the official description of the course:

This course will focus on examining and developing the skills associated with crafting an academic report and discussion on research data. Topics include genres and purposes of academic writing, as well as venues for presentation and publication. An academic paper is more than a compilation of relevant literature, attending information and a conclusion.

An acceptable paper, whether intended for an academic or a professional audience, and whether a report of findings or a theoretical-philosophical argument, takes a clearly defined idea, situates it in the current literature, and supports it with a well-structured discussion. The principal intentions of this course are to introduce students to the various structures of academic and professional papers and to provide support in their efforts to craft, present and potentially publish their written work.

A traditional approach to writing educational research involves first learning about writing, then learning to write. Learners first study sample texts, analyzing them and then dissecting them, examining their structure, argument and style. The next step often involves producing an original piece of writing that mimics the style, tone and structure of the sample text. The final step is to integrate elements of the student’s own voice and style with elements of the texts they have previously studied. The rationale behind this approach is that the student must first learn what counts as excellent writing by learning about writing. Only then are they prepared to write themselves.

This course takes a non-traditional approach to learning to write about research for scholarly or professional purposes. Students will focus on writing, offering feedback to peers, revising, and incorporating feedback.

Students take on three key roles during this course:

  1. Writer – Crafting an original work intended for sharing in a public forum.
  2. Reviewer – Developing your skills offering substantive and supportive feedback to peers to help them improve their writing so that they, too, are successful in sharing their work in a public forum.
  3. Reviser – Learning to consider and incorporate peer feedback thoughtfully. As scholars and professionals, we recognize that our work is stronger when we incorporate revisions from trusted colleagues whose intention is to help us succeed.

Check out a copy of the course outline here:

EDER_603.23_L09_Eaton_SP2017 – approved

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This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


A Canadian online rural education teacher preparation program

May 10, 2017

AERA 2017 - Rural ed paper Cover pageFor the past couple of years I have been working with a team at the University of Calgary to do some research on a community-based Bachelor of Education program offered in a blended-learning format. This program is targeted specifically towards Albertans living in rural and remote areas.

This year, we had the honour of presenting some of our research results at the 2017 American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference.

Here are the details of the paper we presented:

Eaton, S. E., Gereluk, D., Dressler, R., & Becker, S. (2017). A Canadian online rural education teacher preparation program: Course design, student support and engagement. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, USA.

We have uploaded an Open Access copy of our conference paper to the University of Calgary’s digital repository, called PRISM. You can download a copy of our paper from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51973.

Here are some other works we have shared related to this project:

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This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


What’s the difference between a manuscript and an article?

May 8, 2017

One of the questions students in a graduate course I teach called “Writing Educational Research” is: What is the difference between a manuscript and an article?

The simplest way to understand it is this:

Manuscript = Written paper pre-publication

Article = Written paper that has been published

Now, scholars love to debate and I’m quite sure that there are academics out there who would delight in a robust debate on this topic. I agree that my definition may be simplistic. My purpose here is not to be reductionist, but rather to demystify the publication process for graduate students and novice researchers.

What's the difference between a manuscript and an aritcle

Examples of manuscripts include:

  • Drafts
  • Writing-in-progress
  • Work submitted to a publisher that is under review or not yet published
  • Term papers or elements of your thesis that you are crafting for submission to a journal.

The term “article” usually refers to work published in:

  • Newsletters
  • Professional publications
  • Edited journals
  • Peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journals

If you are looking at publishing your work in the proceedings of a conference, refer to it as a manuscript until the proceedings have been released.

There can be a delay between when your work is accepted for publication and when it actually appears in print. During this phase, you can call your work a “pre-publication article” or an “article in press”. At this point, you can call it an article because it has been accepted for publication.

Graduate students and novice researchers and scholars present themselves as uninformed and inexperienced when they run around referring to term papers and drafts of their work as “articles”, when the work has not yet been published. You will present yourself as more humble and knowledgeable about the publication process when you refer to your own work as a manuscript when it is in the pre-publication phase.

Related posts:

Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1OJ

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

Active vs. passive voice — How to tell the difference http://wp.me/pNAh3-1HX

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

How many sources do you need in a literature review?  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Template for a 10-page graduate research paper in social sciences http://wp.me/pNAh3-1s2

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This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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