At a crossroads

Having recently moved onto my second year of my EdD I realise that the focus of my thesis should be taking shape and major decisions being made.  This is where I find myself at a bit of a crossroads.  I know the definite focus of my thesis will be based on ‘class’. 

As a mature, working class female making her way through HE, I find that I have some issue regarding academic confidence, particularly evident as I progress through the EdD programme.  My previous post taken from my recent reflection assignment bares this out.  The reflection module made me face up to my academic inadequacies and it allowed me to visualise a future where I could, or not, overcome my shortfalls.  As a result of my soul-searching I have decided that I want to delve deeper into the area of class and question its impacts on individuals learning at a higher level, namely working class and mature learners in HE. 

I have recently considered an autoethnographic piece as I feel that the trials and tribulations that I have experienced throughout my academic journey reflect the many articles on class, belonging and HE I have read; Diane Reay being a predominant author.  Therefore, I feel that a ‘from the horses mouth’ approach will add to the knowledge pot on class and education.  Not only that but it may have the influence to inform current teaching and learning practices in primary and secondary education, and in a variety of institutions delivering HE. 

My dilemma: 

Do I conduct a complete autoethnographic piece?

Concerns:

  1. Will this method be valued as much as primary research? 
  2. Will I have enough to discuss?
  3. Will it add enough to the knowledge pot?
  4. Will it make much of a difference?

Do I split the thesis in half and do an autoethnography piece and primary research involving a variety of mature working-class learners in HE?

Concerns:

  1. The thesis is 50,000 words and my concerns are that by conducting the split method, it may dilute the findings.

At the moment I am favouring the half and half approach as I do want my voice to be heard and my experiences to be shared however I also would like to reach out to others to understand if they have similar internal issues as I have. 

If you have any thoughts or advice, I would be very grateful. 

Thankyou

Gillian

An extract from my recent reflection assignment.

Open to change

A major component of critical reflection is one of being open to change, and self- flagellation is something I need to address.   If I do not focus on this issue, I will continue to shy away from collaborative events in which I will be required to contribute to discussion and share ideas with fellow students and researchers, and this will render me unable to fully achieve the requirements and expectations a professional doctorate demands. 

My mentor has helped in breaking down my personal barriers through regular and encouraging skype sessions.  The written feedback from both my markers on both assignments have also helped in allowing myself to break free from the uncertainty I feel.  To enable further change in building my confidence in public speaking, I have become a member of the local Society of Toastmasters Club.  I have set up a blog that allows me to voice my thoughts to the world, although I am wary of the responses.  To embrace social media further, I have created a Twitter and LinkedIn account and have posted on these forums.  I have also posted comments on various other blogs.  This is my way of creating inclusion in a world that I have, up to now, felt excluded.  By implementing these measures, I hope to be able to express ideas, and debate with others, with an air of confidence and self-assurance.

I feel I am on the precipice of a new world that will unlock opportunities and experiences that are unfamiliar to me.  I find this both exciting and daunting.  However, hard work and determination throughout my academic journey has allowed me to get to this point and, with continued resolve, I will overcome my internal conflicts.  I am therefore taking the advice of Mezirow (1990) and unblocking my internal constraints which will allow me to transform into the liberated and confident Doctor of Education I want to be. 

Reference:

Mezirow, J. (1990) Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood: A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning.  Available at: https://www.academia.edu/2228740/How_critical_reflection_triggers

A new beginning (in more ways than one)

Hi there

As a relatively new EdD student I was somewhat encouraged by my lecturers to get involved in this alien, to me at any rate, concept that is social media. Blogs was the terminology used, and one which I have heard of but didn’t actually know what it, or they were. Please tell me I’m not the only one? I’m a mature student and I know I can’t use age as an excuse, but you can get a bit stuck in your ways and I’m afraid technology has kind of left me behind a bit. Oh I’m not saying that I’m a dinosaur or anything, just a little limited in the technology department shall we say. Emails not a problem but facebook, twitter and all the other equally bewildering social media platforms leave me confused. See how I slotted in the ‘down with the kids’ terminology there? I may be selling myself short actually, I’m not to bad with powerpoint slides either! To be honest, I fear the safety side of it all… if I hit a wrong button, who knows where my information is going. I think that’s what’s stopped me getting involved in social media in the past… until now that is! I’m still nervous, I must admit, but I keep thinking about the saying ‘every day’s a school day’ and that’s why I’ve started this blog. Well that, and the ‘encouragement’ from my lecturers.

Anyway, as you can imagine, my fear and anxiety levels were creeping with every sentence the lecturer was saying. It’s like they were talking in a foreign language and of course I didn’t want to be the only one to put their hand up and ask the dumbest question in the world, so I just went along with it, nodding in all the appropriate places whilst making a mental note to actually do a bit of research on this mystical phenomenon.

If you’ve ever typed in ‘blogs’ into the internet, all you get back is how to build one. I still don’t actually think I’ve seen a proper one. I did however stumble across one website that was actually quite informative but it was trying to sign me up to a hosting site, who charged a monthly fee… I had to pay? Nobody mentioned this! My lecturers never said it would cost me, well maybe they did but in the panic situation, my ears must have turned off. So after about 4 hours toing and froing on the internet I was parched and in need of a coffee and some conversation. Relaying my findings and voicing my frustration at paying, my husband said ‘I’m no expert but can’t you use facebook?’ Genius!

The afternoon was spent creating a new facebook page and using the notes section to write my first blog. That’s what I had read somewhere and they said it worked ok for them, but of course, not for me! I spent a few hours writing my first blog and then posted it. I was trying to make the blog public so that the world and his wife (or husband) could read it but in the process, I think I lost it. I say think because I didn’t delete it, it just went somewhere. See what I mean about hitting the wrong button? When I logged onto my facebook page from my husbands account, it said ‘content not available’. I forwarded my facebook address on my family WhatsApp group, and opened it up from there, but no joy. Needless to say, the air took on a blue tinge. I frustratingly deleted the page and went back to square one.

After a few days searching further and pondering what to do, I made the monumental decision to go ahead and pay for a proper blog. My thoughts focussed on commitment to the blog and necessity for the blog. I decided that I would have time to upload a blog a week (perhaps a little adventurous, or naïve?) and my studies do lend themselves to it, so here I am. After getting in touch with a really nice guy from a hosting company I came across on my internet travels, I checked the credentials of the chap who owns the company using linkedin (turns out quite handy this social media stuff) and he looked ok to me. He answered all my questions, both stupid and technical, well maybe less technical, more ‘reasonably professional’. I’m sure he could tell I was a complete novice, but he was polite and courteous in his replies. More importantly, he put my mind at rest. I then splashed the cash and took the gigantic, and daunting leap into social media.

I suppose what can be taken away from my story is that as long as the barriers to learning are not made of reinforced steel and you have a modicum of interest (even if somewhat ‘encouraged’!), then anything is possible. If I can get my head around social media, and believe me, it is taking some getting around, then anyone can. I will persevere with it, and undoubtedly learn a lot about this new (?) form of communication in the process. Every day’s a school day don’t forget.

I’m hoping to use this blog to share my thoughts and experiences as a mature student on my doctoral journey, and if you would like to share yours with me, on your academic journey, that would be great. That’s assuming I can actually market this thing!… now that appears to be a completely different ball game.

Until the next time, take care.