Early Research Reflection

I just gave an update on my mini research project this semester for one of my classes, and I thought I’d share some reflections on my progress in the spirit of open scholarship. For background, I gave this presentation back in January as an explainer talk in class to get feedback on my study setup.

This week I gave a project update talk highlighting my “progress” which was really more a discussion of the issues I ran into as a first-time researcher. This was a valuable opportunity because I had the chance to talk openly about what I had trouble with and whether the problems I identified were resolvable, how to resolve them, or if I even identified the right issues as problems to begin with. It was also therapuetic to hear my classmates commiserate with me.

I expected my advisor to be disappointed with the amount of work I had not accomplished, because this felt like I had nothing to show for all the time I spent on the prep and data collection. I felt like I had a good sense of where I went wrong, so I tried to highlight that in my talk in the hopes that I wouldn’t come off as totally clueless. I left class feeling less like I made no progress and more like I only discovered a few ways to NOT do this research, which my advisor assured me was still valuable and still counted as progress. She specifically told me to reflect back on where I was as a researcher when I started this small project and compare it to where I am now. That exercise (which includes writing this post) has proven to be the most helpful in making me feel less bad.

Essentially, I think I overestimated how willing people actually are to help with a research project that they don’t get any percieved immediate benefit from. In my role, I am known as a problem solver, and with this project I’m simply collecting information that may or may not help me solve a problem. In fact, there is a good chance that this will bring more problems to light, and I think that may be off-putting to my collaborators, which is totally fair for them to think. Instead of limiting my participants to just one program, I think I need to expand to other programs that do this type of studio work and observe across all types of studios rather than focusing on one single studio experience.

My second category of problems, cheekily classified as “hindsight,” stemmed simply from a lack of planning on my part. I didn’t know what to expect in the field and I was ill-equipped to capture everything. I spent the entire time furiously typing to try to get everything down that was being said. I needed a recorder. There were times where I couldn’t hear the students speaking up front because of the room setup - it had high ceilings and exposed metal. Not great for carrying voices to a slightly hearing-impaired researcher in the back of the room. Rewriting my IRB will help overcome those issues.

The last thing that showed up as a problem was that lack of time on instructors’ parts. I was hoping to develop interventions to try to improve the studio experience online, and without cooperation I can’t do that part. In addition, there are only so many open studio sessions per semester, so you don’t get that many chances to intervene in some way. Adding more cases will help alleviate that issue of lack of opportunity, but I still need that buy in to do real intervention. So perhaps a DBR study is not the way to go with this. Still thinking about that one for sure.

I shared my slides at the top of this post. As I posted earlier, I’m trying to practice open scholarship and open pedagogy, so I made the slides viewable by anyone and I turned on commenting. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and I’ll try to respond if my commentary is needed. I’m also open to ideas for improvement or what I should explore more. Due to confidentiality restrictions in my data set I need to be mindful of what exactly I share, but I hope between my presenter notes, what I added to the slides, and what I’ve posted here, that may be enough to get a conversation going!