Tag Archives: David Jardine

Research as Reflexive Practice: Inquiry, Interpretation and Worth

This week’s readings led to a great deal of reflection on why we take up educational research.  The readings provided specifics related to how to conduct qualitative, quantitative and action research including how to conduct a literature review, literature mapping and the use of working titles from Creswell and  how to use reflection to guide research through reflexive inquiry from Hendricks. The more important reflection for me was that researchers need to truly understand what work is worth whiling over and therefore worthy of conducting a research inquiry.  Creswell (2014) warns that research projects require a great deal of time and energy and therefore a researchers must examine how their research topic can help fulfill them personally in the pursuit of understanding a topic of inquiry (p. 27).  Creswell provided questions that a researcher must ask oneself about whether a topic should be studied. Creswell addresses the standard questions such as does the “study add anything new to the body of research” and does the research add to the collected knowledge of a topic (p. 27).  Something new that Creswell adds to the discussion is the notion of how research can be used to further civil society.  He asks us to consider if the research inquiry “lifts up the voices of the underrepresented groups or individuals” (p. 27).  The idea that research can be a means in which to further social justice and to address ideas, beliefs and transform society is powerful and with it come great responsibility for the researcher.

Once such means of determining the worth of a research topic, which Hendricks (2013) addresses in Chapter 2, is through the use of reflexive inquiry (p, 31). Through this practice educators “place present thoughts and actions in the context of past thoughts, actions and history” (Hendricks, 2013, p. 31).  They therefore ground their research inquiry in their experiences acknowledging that they influence their beliefs and actions (p. 31).  Similar to that of of reflexive inquiry, Hendricks stresses that the nature of qualitative research “is to understand and interpret phenomena as they occur in natural settings” (p. 3).  This desire to study situations and contexts, rather than to control them allows researchers to “make meaning” from the deeply complex and nuanced situations that exist in our schools (p.3).  Jardine, Clifford and Friesen (2002) take up this work of using research to make meaning such as Hendrick describes.  In their writing they explain, “simply put that our research is interpretive in character.  It also means that classroom events that we are interested in are themselves interpretive in character” (Jardine, 2002, p. xxii).  Jardine acknowledges that classrooms are made of complex relationships and living histories that cannot be controlled but can be studied in order to make meaning together with students.  As we begin to consider our topics of inquiry for our research may we endevour to “while over a topic – working at it, composing it, composing ourselves over it, remember and cultivating one’s memory of it” and in doing so learn and share with others something worthwhile about ourselves and the world (Jardine, 2002, p. 226).

Reference:

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Hendricks, C. (2013). Improving schools through action research: A reflective practice approach (3rd ed.). Montreal, QC: Pearson Education.

Clifford, P. Friesen, S. Jardine, D. W. (2002). Back to the Basics of Teaching and Learning: Thinking the World Together. New York: Routledge.

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Developing Multiple Literacies through a Curriculum of Action

Week 1 Reflection:  Developing Multiple Literacies through a Curriculum of Action

There is an interesting parallel between this week’s readings and the work we are doing prototyping curriculum development (http://inspiredcurriculum.ca/)  for Alberta Education’s Curriculum Redesign (http://education.alberta.ca/department/ipr/curriculum/curriculum-development-prototyping.aspx).  As I read Jewett’s (2011) discussion of exploring ICT literacy through real world experiences such as geocaching in the article Multiple Literacies Gone Wild, I am reminded of the importance of developing curriculum that allows students to pursue multiple literacies by engaging in work that is worth-while (Jardine 2002).  As a member of the curriculum synthesis team, we engaged teachers, students, parents and community members across Alberta in conversations about how curriculum could and should be developed.  We heard time and time again that curriculum must allow for authentic, worthwhile work as the means for students to develop competencies and literacies.  Jewett reminds us through the story of the boys in the article, that through the authentic and engaging task and experience while geocaching, the boys are able to develop multiple literacies that are clearly real world in application such as mapping, global positioning systems (GPS), and communication (2011).

As we prototype curriculum, we find ourselves asking the question, “what are the ways of being” for each discipline?  How do we honour the disciplinary skills and knowledge that lead to the habits of mind of a scientist, a social scientist or an artist?  Jewett observed through the boys experience geocaching that literacies come out of disciplinary contexts, social interaction and the ways of being related to the task at hand (Gee 2005, Street, 1995).  The boys developed their literacies not through the practice of independent skills but rather through the context of the authentic, engaging task.  They learned through trial and error and likely made some mistakes along the way: a map read incorrectly, a missing coordinate in the GPS, a misunderstanding of the cache owners instructions all would contribute to their experiences.  Regardless, there was no requirement to first be competent in GPS coordinates before heading outside.  The literacy was developed and strengthened in the act of engaging in the task.  Quite possibly some of these small errors and corrections along the way, lead to a deeper understanding of the literacy employed.  The literacies were developed through experience and measured through the boys ability to engage in the work of geocaching.

In Lau and Yuen’s (2014) study of ICT literacy in junior secondary students, the authors stress the importance of measuring this literacy in both students and teachers.  The authors explore the multiple existing ICT literacy measures and the need to develop a conclusive measure of ICT literacy in both students and teachers.  This measure contrasts with the idea of measuring literacy through engagement in authentic tasks.  The authors conclude that “ICT alone was not a catalyst for school wide improvements” (Venezky and Davis 2002).

As teachers, we might ask ourselves, how do  essential ICT skills and literacies impact our students’ learning?  Do these literacies need to be taught and evaluated explicitly using ICT scales prior to students engaging in authentic tasks?  It is possible that many of the competencies and literacies that we deem as valuable can be developed through the authentic work of the discipline, work that is worth whiling over (Jardine 2002).  These readings will once again focus my work on prototyping a curriculum of action that allows for students to develop and measure their multitude of literacies through engagement in work that is contextualized and placed in real-world experiences.

Gee, J.P.  (2005). An Introduction to Discourse analysis:  Theory and method (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Jardine, D. W. (2002). On the While of Things.  In P. Clifford, S. Friesen, D. W. Jardine, Back to the Basics of Teaching and Learning: Thinking the World Together. New York: Routledge.

Jewett, P. (2011). Multiple Literacies Gone Wild. Reading Teacher, 64(5), 341-344

Lau, W. & Yuen, A. (2014). Developing and validating of a perceived ICT literacy scale for junior secondary school students: Pedagogical and educational contributions. Computers & Education. 76, 1-9.

Venesky, R.L. & Davis, C. (2002). Quo vademus?  The transformation of schooling in a networked world.  

Zabala,J.S.(2005). Ready,SETT,go! Getting started with the SETT framework. Closing the Gap,23(6),1-3.

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