Fashioning Circuits, PhD

It’s My Graduation Day!

Today is the day my PhD degree comes to an end – it’s UNT Commencement!

Grad Regalia

Catch up: I defended my dissertation on June 12, 2014 and I am VERY grateful for all the love and support. It has been a fun four years in the doctoral program at UNT; however I am happy to say goodbye with this ceremony today. I know this event is only the beginning of what lies ahead with my teaching, research, and service scholarship:

“There is a good reason they call these ceremonies ‘commencement exercises.’  Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” ~ Orrin Hatch

phd061814s

Image c/o PhD Comics

For commencement, the graduate school required a 30-word summary of my research to read out during the hooding segment of the ceremony. Could you summarize your thesis/dissertation? I dare you to try in the comments section of this post. It took me a couple tries; however my Twitter writing skills were used to condense this blurb:

Dr. Pasquini analyzed 250 higher education social media policies from 10 countries. She established a policy database, and identified 36 universal topics to best guide social media use and implementation.

For my family, friends and peers who care to tune in, I will be officially hooded and dubbed a doctor between 3-4 pm CST time TODAY (August 8, 2014). You can stream the ceremony online, if you so wish, here:  http://www.unt.edu/commencement/watch.htm

{REQUEST: For my technically savvy colleagues, let me know if you can do a screen capture  of the event – I would LOVE a quick video segment of my hooding as a keepsake. :)}

For my local friends and colleagues in Denton, TX, I hear that the libations will be served at the Mulberry Street Cantina to celebrate at 5 pm onwards today. Drop in!

Fashioning Circuits, Research Methods

Participation Observation Method

In constructing the curriculum chapter for the Fashioning Circuit book* being developed by Dr. Kim Knight (a.k.a. @purplekimchi), I utilizing a few exploratory research methods to review the current workshop materials, lessons, and learning on the subject matter. The first method: Participant Observation. As I work through evaluation and assessment of the curriculum, I might as well share and get feedback on the process.

EFC Camp

Participation observation allows for the collection of information and qualitative data, rooted in the ethnographic research tradition. For this method, participation observers report on the physical, social, and cultural context to reveal relationships, activities, and behaviors of subjects. This is an effective method to gather information to support project design, data collection development, and to interpret other research. Data collection for this method includes note-taking, mapping-relationships, and media (video, audio or images) that might be translated into textual artifacts. Challenges to this method include diligent documentation and objective account from observers in the field, and this process can be time-consuming.

Specific responsibilities for Participant Observers include:

  • observing individuals as they engage in activities (as if you were not present and watching)
  • engaging in the activities to gain a better understanding
  • interacting in a controlled research environment
  • identifying and developing relationships with key informants and stakeholders

For the purpose of this research, I developed a field guide for our research team of three. Basics for the observation guide include listing the observer name/background, research setting, materials used, and concentration areas to focus on for the workshop observation. Other tips and general guidelines were provided to outline expectations for observing.

The research team divided and conquered today by taking notes related to the following categories:

  1. Lesson/Curriculum (Electronic Fashioning Circuits Camp)
  2. Lead Instructor/Facilitator (a.k.a. Dr. Knight)
  3. Learners/Students (participants in the workshop)
  4. Facilitators/Helpers (those supporting the workshop)

The observation guides were segmented by the 4 categories and included questions to prompt observers and focus their field notes.  The observation goal was to focus on the physical space and set up, participant attributes and involvement, verbal behavior and interactions, physical gestures, personal space, lesson understanding, instructional support, and individuals or examples that stood out from the workshop.

At the beginning of the day our group met to review the research context, expectations, behavior as an observer, and potential problems that might occur during the workshop. Another item we discussed was distinguishing interpretation (I) from observation (O), and labeling our notes accordingly (Kawulich, 2005). To help with strategic note-taking, I encouraged leaving space to expand on notes, using shorthand to follow up with later, writing observations in  sections, and encouraged our team of researchers to consider body language, attitudes, conversations, ambiance, and general interactions that might be relevant for the curriculum.

Participant Observatin Continuums

Image c/o Chapter 3: Participation Observation (Guest, Namey, & Mitchell, 2012)

During the day the three of us took notes on tablets, laptops, mobile phones, and pads of paper with the following platforms: Google docs, Word, Evernote (audio & images), etc. We reconvened the end of the workshop to process and discuss what we observed. This debriefing provided ideas for supporting a research team, specifically with regards to:

  • general observations, ideas, and questions about the workshop
  • how to create anonymous identifiers for research subjects in notes
  • expectations for field note-taking and organization submission for the lead researcher
  • roles and responsibility for how to effectively observe a single group within in a workshop, i.e. instructor, learners, and helpers
  • future planning needs and ideas for upcoming participation observation

I am truly grateful for the UT Dallas EMAC students, Jodi & Lari, who volunteered their time to observe and be a part this exploratory study. Their insights and ideas are very helpful for future field observations and research method development. Once everyone’s participation observation notes and artifacts are collected, I will share how to analyze this data.

Lily pad

*Interested in learning more about Fashioning Circuits? There’s a few social spaces for that! Check out the Fashioning Circuit’s website, Facebook page, Twitter handle or hashtag #FashioningCircuits. Feel free to follow along, and join the conversation.

 

References:

Guest, G., Namey, E. E., & Mitchell, M. L. (2012). Collecting qualitative data: A field manual for applied research. Sage.

Kawulich, B. B. (2005). Participant observation as a data collection methodForum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research6(2), Art. 43, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502430.

Fashioning Circuits, Research Methods

Ethnographic Methods

In thinking about how to evaluate the curriculum and pedagogy for the #FashioningCircuits book with Dr. Kim Knight (@purplekimchi), I spent some time over the weekend reviewing  potential research methods for the project. Since I have used  ethnographic methods for a grant project Fall 2012 (studying culture and healthcare perceptions), I thought I’d revisit these as potential research methods and blog about it here.

Ethnographic Methods

Ethnographic is the description of groups, specifically these approaches appeal to those who are confident they have time to stay in a research setting (the field) for a sustained observation and informal interviewing (Cousin, 2008).

ethno

Typically ethnographic research derives from anthropology where communities or groups are studying for long periods of time (a year or so) for the “purpose of learning from their ways of doing things and viewing reality” (Agar, 1980, p. 6) where the researcher not only observes, but also interacts and talks with participants (Delamont, 2002, p.g. 8). Other data collection can be collected with communities also interact in online spaces and contexts. Ethnographers can study forums, wikis, blogs, or Twitter in the context of participant observation research to review the community and activity or historical research archive (Boellstorff et al., 2012).

A few selected strategies for research inquiry:

  1. Observation: Researchers will complete overt participant and observer review strategies which the ethnographer has negotiated access to the group to observe and participate in its activities (Cousin, 2008). Observations of this group will include notations about the environment, population, interactive order, and characteristics of the membership. In thinking about digital footprints, historical archives and other means of data collection for “observation” of this group is inclusive of blog posts, videos, tweets, and other online contexts (Boellstorff et al., 2012).

  2. Semi-Structured Interviews using the Ethnographic method (Schensul et al., 1999) provides researchers with a structured set of themes to organize the interview discussion. Unlike the structured interview, interviewers will be required to adapt, modify, and augment the prepared questions if they flow of the interview discussion suggests it (Cousin, 2008). The interviews discussions are “meaning making events” where the ethnographer utilizes “active interviewing” skills (Holstein & Gubrium, 1997). From a common list of questions, ethnographers will interview various members of the group. These interviews will be transcribed and evaluated for thematic information and content using a grounded approach.

References

Boellstorff, T., & Marcus, G. E. (2012). Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method. Princeton University Press.

Cousin, G., Cousin, J., & Deepwell, F. (2005). Discovery through dialogue and appreciative inquiry: A participative evaluation framework for project development. D. Taylor and S. Balloch (Eds.), The politics of evaluation, 109-118.

Cousin, G. (2008). Researching learning in higher education: An introduction to contemporary methods and approaches. Routledge.

Delamont, S. (2002). Fieldwork in educational settings: Methods, pitfalls and perspectives. Routledge.

Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1997). Active interviewing (pp. pp-113). Sage Publications.

Schensul, S. L., Schensul, J. J., & LeCompte, M. (1999). Essential ethnographic methods. Walnut Creek.