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Navigating Theory: a PhD student’s ongoing journey


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Presentation given for SRHE event "Where does theory come from in the doctoral project?" GCU, 8th June 2015

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Navigating Theory: a PhD student’s ongoing journey

  1. 1. Navigating Theory: a PhD student’s ongoing journey Louise Drumm @louisedrumm Slides available on Slideshare @louisedrumm
  2. 2. • Health warnings • Professional background • My research question: What role does theory play in teaching with digital technologies at universities? 1. Theories of learning – what is learning, how does it occur? 2. Theories of teaching – what do teachers do to enable learning? 3. Disciplinary areas – what is knowledge? 4. Theories of technology – is technology determined or neutral? @louisedrumm
  3. 3. First principles – what I am not doing… I am not: • directly observing nor experiencing first hand lecturers’ teaching • tracking changes in teaching over time • intervening in teaching • solving a teaching problem • starting with a hypothesis • specifically concerned with power or seeking change (yet) @louisedrumm
  4. 4. What can I research? • How lecturers report their use of digital technologies • How lecturers position themselves in relation to technology generally • How lecturers present their teaching in relation to their discipline and institution @louisedrumm
  5. 5. Reading Theses Education literature Education technology literature Technology literature Research textbooks Big books @louisedrumm Rinse and repeat…
  6. 6. Other research on education and education technology… • Empiricist, measurable results e.g. staff uptake, students grades, retention, satisfaction • Critical theory: seeking to uncover privileges & working towards emancipatory agendas • Systems theory-based: computer science-informed, networks, design-based @louisedrumm
  7. 7. Methods Crotty, M., 1998. The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process, p4 @louisedrumm Methodology Theoretical perspective Epistemology Ontology
  8. 8. Epistemology Theoretical perspective Methodology Methods Objectivism Constructionism Subjectivism (and their variants) Positivism (and post-positivism) Interpretivism • Symbolic interactionism • Phenomenology • Hermeneutics Critical inquiry Feminism Postmodernism etc. Experimental research Survey research Ethnography Phenomenological research Grounded theory Heuristic inquiry Action research Discourse analysis Feminist standpoint research etc. Sampling Measurement and scaling Questionnaire Observation • participant • non-participant Interview Focus group Case study Life history Narrative etc. Visual ethnographic methods Statistical analysis Data reduction Theme identification Comparative analysis Cognitive mapping Interpretative methods Document analysis Content analysis Conversation analysis etc. @louisedrumm Crotty (1998), Table 1, p5
  9. 9. Activity A (Crotty handout) 1. Where you can, fill in empty row with your research project epistemology, theoretical perspective, methodology and methods. 2. Turn to a neighbour and explain what you have and any areas you are having difficulty. @louisedrumm
  10. 10. Burrell and Morgan (1979) Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis, p3 The subjectivist approach to social science @louisedrumm Nominalism Realism Anti- positivism Positivism Voluntarism Determinism Ideographic Nomothetic ontology epistemology human nature methodology The subjective – objective dimension The objectivist approach to social science
  11. 11. Sociology of Regulation or Radical Change? a) The status quo b) Social order c) Consensus d) Social integration and cohesion e) Solidarity f) Need satisfaction g) Actuality @louisedrumm a) Radical change b) Structural conflict c) Modes of domination d) Contradiction e) Emancipation f) Deprivation g) Potentiality The sociology of REGULATION is concerned with: The sociology of RADICAL CHANGE concerned with: Burrell and Morgan (1979), p18
  12. 12. Four Paradigms for the Analysis of Social Theory ‘Radical humanist’ ‘Radical structuralist’ ‘Interpretive’ ‘Functionalist’ @louisedrumm THE SOCIOLOGY OF RADICAL CHANGE THE SOCIOLOGY OF REGULATION SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE Burrell and Morgan (1979), p22
  13. 13. @louisedrumm THE SOCIOLOGY OF RADICAL CHANGE THE SOCIOLOGY OF REGULATION SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE Burrell and Morgan (1979), p29 Theories within the Four Paradigms ‘Interpretive’ ‘Functionalist’ ‘Radical structuralist’‘Radical humanist’ French existentialism Anarchistic individualism Critical theory Phenomenology Phenomenological sociology Hermeneutics Solipsism Contemporary Mediterranean Marxism Conflict theory Russian social theory Integrative theory Social System theory ObjectivismInteractionism and social action theory
  14. 14. Activity B (Burrell & Morgan) Discuss with a neighbour where you might plot your research position within the four paradigms and why. @louisedrumm
  15. 15. Questions @louisedrumm