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?


  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?


  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. 



2 thoughts on “At a crossroads”

  1. Hi Gillian, hope you’re well. Sorry, this is probably a bit late (shows how often I look at LinkedIn!)
    Firstly, great study and great question – look forward to hearing more about it. I don’t want to initiate any biases in your subconscious so I’ll try not to express my views too strongly!
    My answers to your first 4 questions would be yes, most definitely in all cases! 50000 words will fly by. I think in these sorts of studies, richness and depth trumps breadth and so called generalisability.
    I also see your rationale for a mixed approach. I guess the ultimate question is ‘which best addresses your research question?’ (sorry, that sounds very simplistic!) Also, what would be trying to achieve by reaching out and listening to others? Is it a comparative endeavour? If so, how many others would you engage with, who would select and why? What value does a comparison actually give to a qualitative study?

    At the end of the day, you will make it work which ever you go with; the only thing I’ve learned on my doctoral journey is that if you can justify it, you can do what you want!
    Happy to have a virtual coffee and chat to discuss further if you wish.

    Best wishes

    1. Thanks James, your advice is much appreciated, defininte key questions for me to consider. I think you have hit the nail on the head with the justification element, and like you say, if I can defend it then it’s not wrong. I suppose this this is what I mean when I say I lack academic confidence. I have always sought authorisation, so it’s difficult to change that mind-set, however, having said that, as I make my way through the EdD I do feel as though those verifying moments are becoming less forceful.

      I’ve just had a session on Communities of Practice and I was thinking of forming our own college community. I’m not sure how far down the line you are with your PhD but maybe worth it? I know it would be beneficial for me and I’m sure for others.

      And as far as LinkedIn and other social media are concerned… I completely understand 🙂

      Perhaps (hopefully) see you around college soon?

      Thanks again James, take care

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