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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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.


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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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.


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.

 


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