EDER 708.01 Collaboratory of Practice II: Post-Secondary Leadership

February 15, 2017

U of C logo - 2015I usually post copies of my course outlines here on the blog, both for current students and for future ones. I realized that I forgot to post this earlier, so I am adding it now. This winter I have the pleasure to work with an awesome cohort of students specializing in post-secondary leadership. Here’s what the course is about:

Course Description:

Collaboratories of Practice represent a fusion of two important developments in contemporary research: communities of practice and collaboratories.  A collaboratory is a new-networked organizational form involving structured experiences of authentic, real-world practice that serve as sources of active inquiry and professional learning.  Using a studio or “collaborative laboratory” learning design, this course facilitates the application of knowledge in real world settings and to investigate and learn from inquiry in the field.

The goal of this second collaboratory is to promote critical inquiry that addresses high-leverage problems of practice related to teaching, learning, and leading in order that service and collaboration among colleagues and the professional communities can be enhanced.  It will provide students the opportunity to critically apply theoretical and technical knowledge, to develop and refine professional skills, and to integrate theoretical, research, and practical knowledge through a focus on data collection and analysis.

Learner Outcomes:

By the conclusion of this course each learner will:

  1. evaluate and select a research methodology to address the research questions.
  1. determine a setting, sample and data sources applicable to the research problem and purpose.
  2. develop methods of data collection and data analysis to address the research problem and purpose within the ethical requirements of the Research Ethics Board.
  3. write a draft Research Methods and Methodology section for an EdD Research Proposal.

Throughout this course each learner will:

  1. contribute to an online scholarly community;
  2. provide constructive feedback on colleagues’ work in collaboratory (studio) groups and incorporate feedback into one’s own work; and
  3. develop and enhance scholarly writing skills through ongoing cycles of feedback from peers, the instructor and the supervisor.

Here’s a copy of the course outline: eder_708-01_l01_eaton_w2017-final-approved

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Focus Groups: Training Manual for Research Assistants

February 13, 2017

ra-training-manual-cover-001As the research project on academic integrity and plagiarism gets underway, I prepared a training manual for the research assistants I am working with.

This manual is an open source document and I am making it freely available as a .pdf for other scholars and research assistants.

Here is the link to the manual: ra-training-manual-focus-groups-2017-02-10

Here is the complete citation for the manual:

Eaton, S. E. (2017). Research assistant training manual: Focus groups. Calgary: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51811

The research team is grateful to the Office of Teaching and Learning, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, who awarded funding for this project under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant, 2016-2017.

I have to give a special shoutout of appreciation to Yvonne Kjorlien, Research Facilitator, Werklund School of Education, and Benedict “Kojo” Otoo, Research Assistant, for their review of drafts of this manual and feedback for improvement.

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How to conduct focus groups: Free online resources for researchers

February 6, 2017

I have been putting some resources together for graduate students on how to conduct focus groups. Here are over a dozen freely available online resources on how to plan, implement, record and analyze focus groups:

  1. Dawson, S., Manderson, L., & Tallo, V. L. (1992). The focus group manual. Retrieved from http://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/125-10840.pdf
  2. Education Training Services. (n.d.). Focus Group Planning Checklist. Retrieved from http://www.etr.org/cisp/access-resources/focus-areas/organizational-development/focus-groups-planning-checklist-pdf/
  3. Elliot & Associates. (2005). Guidelines for conducting a focus group. Retrieved from https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf
  4. Family Health International. (n.d.). Qualitative focus groups: A data collector’s field guide. Retrieved from https://sa-assessment.uoregon.edu/Portals/0/focusgroups1.pdf
  5. Com. (n.d.). Moderator Check List to Conduct Focus Groups or Depth Interviews. Retrieved from http://www.focusgrouptips.com/conduct-focus-groups.html
  6. Harrell, M. C., & Bradley, M. A. (2009). Training manual: Data collection methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.mbamedicine.activemoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=486
  7. Jordan Civil Society Program (CSP). (2012). How to engage your stakeholders in designing, monitoring and evaluating your Programs: A step-by-step guide to focus group research for non-governmental organizations Retrieved from http://staff.estem-uc.edu.au/taipham/files/2013/01/A-Step-by-Step-Guide-to-Focus-Group-Research.pdf
  8. Kielman, K., Cataldo, F., & Seeley, J. (2012). Introduction to qualitative research methodology: A training manual. Department for International Development (DfID). Retrieved from https://rbfhealth.org/sites/rbf/files/Introduction%20to%20Qualitative%20Research%20Methodology%20-%20A%20Training%20Manual.pdf
  9. Modesto, T. S. (Ed.) (2013). Preparing your dissertation at a distance: A research guide. Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Centre for Distanced Education (CDE) – (SADC-CDE). Retrieved from http://www.sadc.int/files/3713/7821/2867/Dissertation_PDF.pdf
  10. Reilly, L. (2013). Training handbook: Organizing and facilitating focus groups. Alexandria: VA. National School Boards Association. Retrieved from https://cdn-files.nsba.org/s3fs-public/05_PET_FocusGroups_Handbook.pdf?cVFz.heuGUiKZnO.caQz8Qjftx7AV9Fk
  11. Shallwani, S., & Mohammed, S. (2007). Community-based participatory research: A training manual for community-based researchers. Retrieved from http://www.livingknowledge.org/fileadmin/Dateien-Living-Knowledge/Dokumente_Dateien/Toolbox/LK_A_Training_manual.pdf
  12. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus group tools. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_tools.pdf.
  13. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus groups: Training materials. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_training.pdf.
  14. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Focus group check list. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/focus_group_checklist.doc

I’ll update this list as I find more resources.

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New research project: Student learning in synchronous online classes

January 23, 2017
Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you involved with online learner as a student or an educator? Have you ever wondered how effective those real-time synchronous (webinar) sessions are for students?

A couple of colleagues and I were wondering the same thing, so we set up a research project to study it.

The primary research question guiding this inquiry is:

  1. How do online synchronous sessions support student learning in professional graduate programs engaging in research active opportunities for scholarship of the profession?

Secondary research questions include:

  1. To what extent do online synchronous sessions impact student learning in researching authentic problems of practice through distance delivery courses?
  2. How do the online synchronous sessions align with the learning outcomes for research design courses?
  3. What signature pedagogies make for successful learning during online synchronous sessions?

Check out our full research brief here:

Eaton, S. E., Brown, B., & Schroeder, M. (2017). Student learning in synchronous online classes: Research project brief. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51792 doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.29667.55844

We are grateful to the Office of Teaching and Learning, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, who awarded funding for this project under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant, 2016-2017.

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Action-Based Research (EDER 701.01)

December 16, 2016

I am thrilled to be teaching a doctoral level course on action research in the Winter 2017 term.

Course Description:                                                                              

This course is an introduction to the rich intellectual and moral traditions, ideas, and approaches of action research, intended to provide participants with knowledge and skills related to the design, implementation, critical reflection, and evaluation of action research. The course will be theoretically grounded as professional action research in educational contexts, considering the contextual and sociopolitical aspects of action research.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Describe, compare and contrast major ideas in the scholarly literature on action-based research.
  2. Describe, compare and contrast various forms of action-based research.
  3. Engage in critical analysis of the origins, history, epistemological, and ontological underpinnings of action
  4. Examine current trends and issues in the design, implementation, and interpretation of action research in education.
  5. Design praxis-based action-oriented research.
  6. Actively contribute to a knowledge building community.
  7. Offer constructive feedback on colleagues’ work and incorporate feedback into one’s own work.

Required Texts:

Hinchey, P. (2008). Action research primer. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

McNiff, J. (2013). Action research: Principles and practice (3rd ed.). Florence, KY: Taylor and Francis.

Additional Recommended Readings:

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

McNiff, J. (2010). Action research for professional development: concise advice for new action researchers. Poole: September Books.

McNiff, J. (2014). Writing and doing action research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

McNiff, J. (2016). You and your action research project (4th. ed.). London: Routledge.

Mertler, C. A. (2013). Action research: Improving schools and empowering educators (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Noffke, S. E., & Somekh, B. (2009). The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. DOI: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/10.4135/9780857021021

Willis, J. W. (2014). Applied research in education and the social sciences: Action research: Models, methods, and examples. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Check out a full copy of my course outline: eder-701-01-l01-w2017-eaton-approved


12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers

January 18, 2016
Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over and over again I see these phrases in research papers. Every single time I ask students to consider an alternative. Here are a dozen phrases to eliminate in your academic writing and why:

#1: I hope that…

#2:  I believe that…

#3: I feel that…

#4: In my opinion…

Research is not concerned with what we feel, believe or hope. It is also not concerned with our opinions. Research is about posing a substantive question that merits an in-depth investigation and  providing credible evidence to address that question. These phrases may work in reflection papers or journals, but less so in research writing. Omit these touchy-feely phrases and focus on the business of providing evidence to support your discussion.

#5: Clearly…

#6: As you can clearly see…

#7: As this clearly demonstrates…

This can come across as defensive. It may seem like you are implying the reader is an idiot if he or she do not agree with you. Even if you feel that way, refrain from letting the reader know, as it will undoubtedly annoy him or her.

#8: As stated previously…

#9: As I have already mentioned / pointed out/ stated…

#10: As already noted in a previous section of this paper…

These phrases can sound condescending. I have yet to see a case where these phrases (and the remainder of the sentence that follows) add anything useful to the discussion. Keep your writing precise and pithy. Avoid repeating yourself.

#11: The only conclusion is…

#12 The only logical conclusion is…

This can sound arrogant, defensive or both. The underlying message is that anyone who disagrees with you is an imbecile. It makes it sound like you flat out reject the possibility that there could possibly be any other conclusion, which is rarely (if ever) a good idea in research. (Remember the Copernican Revolution.)

Instead of using phrases like these that can make you sound arrogant or defensive (even when that is not your intention), focus instead on writing in a pragmatic and straightforward way that lets the evidence speak for itself.

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Here’s a quick link so you can send this post to a friend:

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers

https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/12-phrases-to-avoid-in-your-academic-research-papers

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EDER 603.23 – Writing Educational Research

January 2, 2016

Sarah Elaine Eaton, speaker, presenter, keynote, technology, social media, Calgary, Canada, educator, education, professional developmentI am thrilled that I have the opportunity to teach one of my favourite courses again in the Winter semester. Even better, I already know many of the students who are enrolled and I welcome the opportunity to work with this academically strong group again.

Here’s a downloadable .pdf of the course outline:

EDER_603.23_L09_Eaton_W2016 (approved)

This term, all the instructors who will teach the course in the Winter semester worked to collaboratively design a common outline for all sections of the course. We will use a common approach to teaching, assignments and due dates.

The objective of the course is to engage students in thinking about publishing their work in a public format. Here is an example from a previous student of mine in this course who published her first refereed conference paper as a direct result of her work in this course:

Quinn, E. (2015). Designing a professional learning model to support creativity in teaching and learning. Paper presented at the IDEAS: Designing Responsive Pedagogy, Calgary, AB. Retrieved from: http://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/1880/50852/3/IDEAS%202015%20FINAL.pdf

I hope that this example inspires students in the Winter semester to seek publication of their own research in a credible (e.g. peer reviewed) format. Now is an exciting time for graduate students who want to work towards sharing work in a published format. There are more opportunities than ever before for graduate students to learn what it takes to have their work published in conference proceedings or journals.

Here’s a quick link so you can send this post to a friend: EDER 603.23 – Writing Educational Research – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Jy

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