From all of us here at Research Salad, we wish you and your family all the best this holiday season. From Kwanzaa to Chanukah to Christmas to Winter Solstice: no matter what you are celebrating, we hope that it is joyous. Thank you for reading our blog and we hope to keep posting interesting things for you to read in 2012. Here’s to a prosperous and happy new year to you all!
Recently, I blogged about analyzing qualitative interview data. Using a constant comparative method, themes emerged upon multiple readings of the data. Done by hand, the process was laborious, time-consuming, and highly instructive. In other words, I learned a lot. However, as in other areas of life (electric screw drivers, anyone?) having the right tool for the job can save an enormous amount of time, not to mention muscle power. Time and energy that might be spent in better ways, say in writing up the analysis or catching up on your professional reading, or even polishing off the last of your online Christmas shopping. So when I received over 50 pages of newly transcribed interview data, I decided it might be time to investigate tech tools to do the job more efficiently, even more precisely.
One afternoon, a staff member came into the library with an unusual request. For her upcoming holiday, instead of escaping to a beach or the mountains, she had decided to try something a little different. She would be traveling to South Africa and donate her time to a project tagging penguins on a wildlife reserve. She had already borrowed books on penguins and made an appointment to visit a local zoo and speak with those specializing in animal care. Now, all she needed was a camera.
Her previous camera was not up to the trip and she was looking for something a little more advanced, with a different feature set. She did not want to know what camera I would recommend for her, but rather where she should look to find information to help her make her decision. Where could she find reviews of various products, created by experts and everyday people, to enable her to make an informed choice?
WORD POWER Words are one of a teacher’s most powerful tools. Like tools, they can be wielded to construct, disassemble, or repair. Israeli born educator and psychologist, Haim Ginott’s most famous quote on the relationship between teachers and students included the lines,
“It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.”
Ginott’s work centered mostly on younger children and teenagers. His book Between Parent and Child, originally published in 1965, drew on his work with troubled adolescents in Jacksonville, Florida, and emphasized the need to combine compassion with boundary setting. Of course, compassion and her sister, kindness, serve a teacher well at any stage of a student’s development. Parrhesia, or bold speaking, may serve a teacher better when a student is a little older or when the relationship is already strong enough to withstand some shaking.
“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” — John Rogers, Kung Fu Monkey, 06-25-11
Everyone gets writer’s block — although the phrase’s Wikipedia entry suggests that it’s a condition primarily associated with writing as a profession, writer’s block can afflict anyone. Trying to write a message in that birthday or holiday card, but unable to find the right words? Spent so much time researching for your dissertation that you’re unable to figure out where to begin? College students, journalists, CEOs, and writers of jingles, letters, and blog posts, writer’s block is a dangerous and frustrating malady that can strike any person, at any time.
To help combat this condition for which modern medicine has not yet found a cure, we have compiled a list of selected resources to fight and demonstrate that, while writer’s block might last a little or a long time, it does not have to be a permanent condition.
Choosing a research topic and appropriate research methodology seems so straightforward in the textbooks. Identify an area in which you have an interest and one you can “live with” through the lengthy dissertation process. Read broadly in your area to detect gaps in the literature. Formulate a question that will help fill the aforementioned gap. Tailor the methodology to fit the research question(s). It all seems so logical and, well, linear. Recently, as an “in-process” dissertation writer, I was invited to speak to an online research methods class, on how I chose an area, identified research questions, and selected a methodology. Immediately, I felt a sense of what Stephen Brookfield terms “impostership.” What did I know about it? My process certainly hadn’t been straightforward or linear. Pictures, not words, came to mind. Multifaceted stones, hexagonal soccer balls, lush jungles, interlocking gears, and Ferris wheels represented the process far better than paths or stairs.
After reading SES’s post “Thinking Big Thoughts: Blogs to Follow”, I added GOOD to my feed reader and I am happy I did — while I might not go so far as to read all the posts, there have been a fair number that interested me enough to click-through to the full article. One such post was Cord Jefferson’s “Community Engagement: How the Internet Ruined My Perception of What’s Popular” and the concept of the Internet echo chamber, which led me to a new understanding about the ramifications of my dependence on RSS feeds for news and trends.
As someone who helped coordinate an effort to gather signatures on a petition to keep My So-Called Life on the air, I can appreciate Jefferson’s confusion at finding out that the television show Community was being put on indefinite hiatus. Everyone I knew liked My So-Called Life; students, teachers and parents signed the petition before we sent it off to the show’s producers. While there are any number of reasons or combination of reasons that lead television producers to cancel shows, we could not understand how a show that was so popular could be cancelled.