Research for Writing, Writing for Research: A workshop

Overview of a workshop run for doctoral students in Environmental Studies at Yale University in Fall 2008.

OK, you’re near the end of a semester learning about qualitative research and preparing a research proposal.  This “writing workshop” will look at the role of writing in research from three different angles:

1.  Thinking about what your project (or thesis) is isn’t finished until you finish writing—and you can’t bring writing to a finish without thinking through what your project (or thesis) is really about.  So, what processes can help you with your thinking and writing at the final stages?  We’ll look at “Sharing” and “Revising with Feedback,” guided by chapters 3 & 13 of Peter Elbow’s Writing with Power (Oxford U.P.) and another piece of his (http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/ elbowresponses.html).   (If anyone wants to volunteer a few pages for us to give feedback on, please email me and I’ll explain how this will work.)

2.  The course syllabus says:

The idea is to commit to a project quickly and put some effort into it; you may change your mind later, or find that the problem you thought was worth pursuing is in fact a deadend. Congratulations—that is what research is all about.

Is that what research and writing have to be like?  It is too late to change for this semester, but let’s compare your experience with a process that allows more time for finding a project that really engages you.

Before the workshop:

a. Read the introduction to a book (http://bit.ly/TYS2012) that compiles material from three CCT courses:

b. Examine the “phases of research and engagement,” which are overlapping and “iterative”

c. Consider the idea of “dialogue around written work

During the workshop, we will use two of the tools in the book to compare your experience with the ideas/practices in a, b, & c: Guided freewriting, and Strategic Personal Planning.  (Details of how we’ll do this can wait till the workshop.)

3.  (time permitting)  Many of you will be teachers and researcher advisers one day.  If you see your development as a teacher as an ongoing process, then this process is a suitable subject for qualitative research.  In that light, before the workshop please read the compilation of snapshots from my development, and come prepared to give feedback so I can revise and improve this first draft.  (I’ll be asking you to use one of Elbow’s variety of responses in providing the feedback.)

 

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Scaling up to “moocl,” not dropping down from a MOOC: A proposal for exploratory research

Comments welcome to help improve this short pre-proposal

1. Introduction

Consider two questions posed in the call for submissions:

  • “What models of MOOCs exist beyond large centralized providers?”
  • “What institutional, pedagogical, learning design, technological, and business models are currently employed and which have the most potential to have a positive effect for our learner population?”

This proposal recasts these into a single exploratory research question:

  • What vocabulary and themes help us examine the effect for learners of a MOOC model that does not involve large centralized providers?

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Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement, now published

Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement by Peter Taylor and Jeremy Szteiter is now available.  This is a “field-book of tools and processes to help readers in all fields develop as researchers, writers, and agents of change.”

(For more details and how to purchase: http://bit.ly/TYS2012.
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Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement

Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement is the working title of a book by Peter Taylor and Jeremy Szteiter that assembles the tools and processes from research and writing courses taught in the Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking.  The most up to date version of the book can be viewed at http://cct.wikispaces.umb.edu/TYS (and associated links, including a link to a full pdf of the book).

For your research and writing to progress well, your questions and ideas need to be in alignment with your aspirations, your ability to take or influence action, and your relationships with other people. Shorten these items to head, heart, hands, and human connections. Your efforts to bring these 4H’s into alignment is what we mean when we invite you to take yourself seriously.

Some comments from former students looking back on the influence of the research courses out of which this book has arisen:

Jane, a healthcare professional and story-teller

I learned is to ‘hold my ideas loosely’, which means accepting my own idea as a valid one but always leaving the space open to take in the counterarguments.

I learned to give myself permission to be circular and come back to previous steps or thoughts, and I actually became more comfortable doing so.

I was able to get engaged in a project that I was able to actually use in work, which was extremely satisfying. The whole process encouraged me, and I felt very empowered as a change agent, which could be an exhilarating feeling.

(more comments)

Self-assessment on completing a project or a program of study

The assessment, which is adaptable to any project of research and engagement, addresses two sets of goals:

  • My Product [e.g. project report or final capstone paper or thesis] Shows That…
  • Developing as a Reflective Practitioner

For each goal you describe one example of Read more of this post

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