Friday, February 5, 2016

EDDE 806 post II - Of research questions and generalizability

Yesterday evening I attended my second formal EDDE 806 session (formal in the sense that I am doing blog posts for it, as opposed to just attending and being a fly on the wall).  In any case, the session was pretty interesting, and Viviane Vladimirsky, a fellow EdD student, on her work on her dissertation.

Just prior to Viviane's presentation, as we were going around introducing ourselves there were two interesting pieces of information shared (and reinforced).  First, when we're working on our dissertation when in doubt ask our committee members what they want to see addressed.  Asking people outside of your committee will just muddy the waters, because in the end, in order to graduate, you only need to satisfy your committee and no one else.  I think this is sage advice because if you ask 10 scholars to give you feedback they will all come back with different points of view (based on their own backgrounds, epistemologies, and biases).

The other piece of information (wisdom) shared was on the importance of research questions (very specific ones).  I gotta say - I am still not sold!  I get the importance of specific research questions in certain contexts, but this week I've been reading (again) about post-modernism in 804 and I guess I am rebelling a little against the notion that we have to absolutely have concrete research questions in order to research.  As I joked in the discussion forum, can't I just be the "data whisperer"?  Can I come in with the broad question (such as "what does the data tell us?"), and a grounded theory approach, and continue on with my research?  To be continued...

Anyway, Viviane's presentation.  Viviane is doing research in Sao Paulo Brazil.  Her project is based on Design Based Research principles and she is working on creating K-12 teacher professional development to improve teacher training using OER, and encourage the uptake of OER in the professional activities of K-12 teachers.  Do do this, she is looking at it from two theoretical frameworks, the Unified theory of acceptance and use of technology, and the Integrative Learning Design Framework (this looks like an instructional design model to me). She also chose DBR because DBR is pragmatic, grounded, adaptive, iterative, collaborative, and the designs can be modified based on emerging insights.  In a sense DBR reminds me a lot of agile instructional design.

When the limitations of this study were discussed the issue of generalizability came up.  Again, because of my post-modern frame of mind at the moment, I don't think generalizability is an issue.  Sure, you can't necessarily compare to a physicist who runs experiments and can come up with something that is generalizable (for the most part), but is that really an issue?  We, as humans, are complex beings and a lot of different factors go into who we are, and how we act.  Findings from one research may not be generalizable, but those findings, taken with the findings of other studies (in meta- studies) can bring us closer to understanding certain things that many be generalizable.  I know that we have to cover ourselves and state the obvious, that findings are not generalizable, but that seems like a given to me (and not something we should be apologetic about - not that Viviane was apologetic, but I've seen others be).

So that was it for the seminar of February 4, 2016.  Did you attend? What did you think?
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