· What kind of topics are you interested in
As far practical research in the world of work, that is no longer an aspiration for me. However, my residual interests in the nature of research into health and social care remains, even though I never during my career found a context of research in this area that focused on a multi-perspectival approach to the psycho-social world that I once felt to be such an urgent need. The work I do part time (AL at the OU) that introduces methods remains either thin (at undergraduate level) or focused on quantitative approaches that actively excludes qualitative work at any depth (in conceptualising data collection and analysis). I teach a course on Mental Health (aimed at part at nursing and social work trainees) that virtually invalidates the kind of qualitative analysis, which I find most useful as a mental health practitioner, survivor or learner.
My present involvement in study then is mainly on an MA on Art History, which does at least raise issues fundamental to my interests – such as the role of multimodality in teaching, learning and research. In the end then I plump for that as my main interest. As you will see below, I kind of resist the ‘research question’ approach because I think my current interests are fulfilled by the speculative, intuitive and reflective examination of the limits of research for my needs were I ever to try and realise them.
· What initial research questions might be starting to emerge for you?
How can multimodal input into teaching and learning be used to engage, motivate and raise expectations of ‘self’ and the ability of practitioners to practice with a more critical sense of what evidence is important in work with people who identify as having mental health problems?
I understand that this is too large, but I am not at the point of knowing how to ask the researchable questions, which might evaluate current or past implementations of multimodality in teaching or learning, as well as attempting trials of newer interventions.
In a sense I do trial and error (with safeguards) in my present work as a teacher in this vaguely conceptualised direction (and I still hope to be motivated by some external prod to a clear conception of what I want to give as a teacher). How else can one teach effectively & develop as a teacher though without some kind of continual reflexive self-examination.
· What are you interested in researching - people, groups, communities, documents, images, organisations?
Again all of these objects (and subjects captured through ‘ethno-methodological method and analysis) of research are important to me. The research should eventually focus on how these foci of interest interact with each other in day-to-day teaching situations in HE.
An example of small scale thinking I did on using multiple perspectives in qualitative research analysis in the language of assessment (abandoned as unworkable) is this old blog. (click to open in new window). When I look at it now it seems confused but it does at least say that what I want is some approach that integrates multiple inputs.
In the end, my interest remains speculative and reflective and this may be because I have personally ‘sort of’ resigned out of the practical issues. But the interest remains because I find ‘research’ so often used to justify a certain approach to subject matter that I can’t quite feel comfortable with. I think this is painfully evident in this blog ‘blog-blasted from the past) - (click to open in new window).
· Do you have an initial ideas for the kinds of methods that might help you to gather useful knowledge in your area of interest?
Ethnomethodology that looks from within learner and teacher communities at perceptions of the barriers and commonalities that arise in performing the identities that inscribed learner & teacher roles prescribe. How deterministic are these roles? Can they be explored in terms of performative ambivalences that threaten ‘stable’ power relations? Is that a worthwhile aim?
· What initial questions do you have about those methods? What don't you understand yet?
To the last part, there is quite a lot I don’t understand. In many ways, I will learn whether my interest is in pursuing ‘research methods’ or whether it is purely speculatively epistemological and based on the lived experience of epistemological conflict in the contemporary institution of HE.
· Do you perceive any potential challenges in your initial ideas: either practical challenges, such as gaining access to the area you want to research, or the time it might take to gather data; or conceptual challenges; such as how the method you are interested in can produce 'facts', 'truths', or 'valuable knowledge' in your chosen area?
Many. This seems the base problem for me and stymies me, at the moment, from conceptualising a research role for myself and which indeed was a barrier to me taking on an Ed.D at this time as the first step in this process.