On helping – getting started

Last summer when I came across the work of Schein on research, I found a book that he had written called “Helping: how to offer, give and receive help“.  I bought the book in early November, just as T847 started so it has sat there largely unread.  I’ve started it a couple of times and then faltered – distracted with ‘real’ studying.  And then I tried again when the course finished.  It’s not the book – I realised that I am really bad at really taking things in and following an argument if I don’t turn to my notepad to take notes and my blog to summarise key points – I don’t think about what I am learning.  I can’t just read books – I have to interact with them if I am going to get anything from the process.

So I am starting again – a short burst of temporary purposeful activity to inquire into the notion of helping.  I figured writing a series of blogs as I go along may help with the momentum – and the learning process.

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Is this research good?

Need to get to grips with some of those words that are being flung around – validity, reliability, generalisability, authenticity, rigour, replicability, triangulation.  At the moment they seem a bit of a blur of contested concepts – it’s about time I pursue an inquiry to get to grips with these concepts, the debates around them and more importantly – their relevance to MY particular research project. Continue reading

Descriptive and prescriptive assumptions

(T847, Block 1, Activity 3)

The module materials talk about a theory-based (or theory-guided) approach to research.  It refers to the fact that “a theory or model has been proposed as to how the object of what is being researched operates, or what the outcome(s) or impact(s) are likely to be.” It is important to explicitly identify the theory (or theories) that underlie a research project.

The materials cites Chen (2005) who refers to these as ‘assumptions’ and differentiates between two types:

Descriptive assumptions concern the causal processes that lead to whatever problem/issue/event is being investigated.

Prescriptive assumptions prescribe those entities and activities (components, resources, systems, people, etc.) that the designers and/or other key stakeholders in a research project or programme deem necessary to successfully tackling the problem/issue/event.

It seems that in order to think about these assumptions in relation to my research, I need to be a little clearer about the problem/issue/event that I am investigating – I have not yet articulated that explicitly enough. Continue reading

Paradigm relevant to my research

(T847, Block 1, Activity 2)

Activity 2 asks me to identify an example of a paradigm and related theories and concepts that are relevant to the ideas that I am considering for my research.

The T847 materials summarise a paradigm as “a perspective or point of view affecting what is recognised, known, valued, and done. As such, a paradigm advances both a set of assumptions about the world and a philosophical framework for the study of that world.”

The materials also have a neat way of explaining theories and concepts: “suppositions or systems of ideas, or mental representations or abstract objects intended to explain something, or a set of principles on which some form of activity is based.”

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Ideas for my research project

(T847, Block One, Activity 1)

The quest for this activity is to identify particular ideas, concepts, theories, arguments, propositions, techniques, tools, case studies – in fact any material – that I have found particularly interesting in my studies to date.  An odd question because if I did not find all of it interesting I would not have got here.  Nonetheless, what is particularly engaging my interest right now?

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Epistemology and research

When I studied D843 Discourse Analysis, I experienced my first formal foray into epistemology – a concern with the status of knowledge and the associated claims made by researchers.  I am sure I have only had a little insight into a vast topic but I want to re-visit those materials to inform my upcoming research.

Taylor (2001, 11-15) distinguishes two broad composites of different traditions in the epistemological claims made by researchers. Continue reading

What does ‘critical’ mean?

I have been reading about critical social learning systems and it has set me thinking – what is the difference between social learning and critical social learning.  Or perhaps more specifically, what did Bawden and his colleagues seek to emphasise and draw attention to when they chose to use the prefix the phrase with the word critical?

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Juggling and my inquiry into my systems practice for managing change

(Activity 2.7, ref. Table 2.3 in study guide)

It seems like ages ago when I wrote the post “An inquiry into my systems practice for managing change“.  I am reminded now that this is a purposeful inquiry – the purpose I identified when writing that earlier post is to achieve a better level of ability to manage change systemically.

In this inquiry the situation is my current systems practice i.e. what I do when I do what I do.  I am concerned with developing my understandings and practices associated with doing systems practice.

The juggler isophor is introduced in order to help make sense of what I do when I do what I do (and why I do when I do what I do).  It is therefore a “system tool” that helps me make sense of the situation – a tool to use in my inquiry. Continue reading

Getting to know the B-ball: Being

(Activity 2.28 based on Chapter 5, Ison (2010))

The B-ball is for Being.  Ison (2010, 58) says it

“symbolises the attributes of Being a practitioner with a particular tradition of understanding”.

To me it entails touching base with the relationship I (the practitioner) have with my framework of ideas.  Those ideas are grounded in my experiences to date – experiences that have come from my history. Continue reading