After last class, I have a clearer idea of how to proceed with my thesis. I was struggling to decide between being creative or conducting an academic study, but after talking it over with my group members, I realized I can combine both approaches by inserting the occasional creative vignette about life as a teacher among the findings from my more rigorous research. I still want the focus of the project to be based in more traditional research practices, but knowing that I have the option to use some of my creative writing skills makes it a lot easier for me to move forward without having to worry about totally abandoning the work I completed over the summer retreat.
Since I do want my phenomenological research to be the focus, I need to get my interviews conducted as soon as possible so I can start writing up the results. I figure I can always nix the creative vignettes if I run out of time or motivation to write them, but the study won’t work if I don’t give myself the time to thoroughly interview other teachers and then carefully comb over the data they provide. So, my goal for this week is to compose a set of open-ended questions that ask educators to recall the experience of working during the pandemic and attempting to instruct students virtually, in a hybrid setting, and fully in-person.
To do this, I’ll need to review some of the readings from Dr. Nelson’s research and methods course so I can refresh my memory on how to construct useful and unbiased research questions. I also should look up some studies similar to the one I plan to conduct that I can use as a model for crafting my own data-collection instrument. Our research workshop in the library introduced me to the citation management system EndNote, so I definitely want to explore this tool as a way to organize any valuable sources I discover.
By next class, I hope to have all of my questions drafted and be ready to review them with my group members. I’ll also then be able to determine whether the specific research I’m conducting will require IRB approval. It’s a little nerve-wracking to be taking these first few steps towards completing such an ambitious project, but I’m excited and hopeful that by this time next year, I’ll have a substantial thesis that I can be proud of.