I had a meeting this week with my supervisors. They mapped out the next three years of my life, complete with a little sad face of death in the third year.
As you can see, year 1 (my current position) is booked from now until July. I start to get a little more frazzled in year two, and by year three I have died before being reborn and achieving glory! I have sense added some things to year 2 and year 3 in terms of deadlines and things that need to be done, but I’m choosing to stay with these pictures because they make me a little less sad than the full chart.
Goodbye social life, hello burning the candle at both ends.
Despite this, I am excited that things are finally getting to the point that real work is getting done. For the last year I have been dealing with the disappointment of CSUF and the way that I was treated. It seems like forever ago that I was collecting data, doing research, and really doing something worthwhile to contribute to the field of education.
The problem is, before I can really get to the nitty gritty of collecting data, I have to settle on my world view. My supervisors asked me what my epidemiological and ontological views are. Now, this is a question that all researchers are asked at one point of another, especially PhD students as these views shape the way they gather data, the way they analyze the data, and the way that they present results. The answer to these two questions set the tone for the entire project.
The answer to these two questions are thus far eluding me.
I had to answer these questions when I was at CSUF, but I no longer view the world the same way.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. For those of you who do not aspire to be a student forever, or those of you who are a little rusty on your word parts, let me start with a simple definition of the two words.
1. Ontology and epistemology are both branches of philosophy that try to explain the existence of an entity or something.
2. Ontology which indicates the study of how something existed, its nature, or being, usually answers the question ‘what’.
3. Epistemology is often considered as the theory of knowledge, in which we know something exists, and it answers the questions ‘how’ and ‘what’
So now it is time for me to sit and think about how I think, how I construct knowledge, and how I go about answering questions in those categories. Easy right?
Wrong. First, I am not good in silence. If I spend too much time in silence then I am liable to go to the dark and twisty with my thoughts, so I always have music, podcasts, or TV playing. That does not allow for a lot of serious contemplation about the way in which I construct meaning in my world. Am I a realist? Am I constructionist? Am I an interprestist? Where does my belief in Critical Theory come into play? How can I explain my view in 500 words to my supervisors, and how can I spend more than 500 words explaining my views when the first chapter of my thesis is written? Do I want to do a Phenomenological study using grounded theory discourse? Do I even understand what that means? I’ve been sitting with my laptop on my lap for the last three hours, and even with my crack skills as a researcher, I feel like I am no closer to answering the question than I was two years ago when I encountered them.
Right now, I feel like I am sitting in the Pragmatism camp.
Ontology:Reality is the practical effects of ideas.
•Epistemology: Any way of thinking/doing that leads to pragmatic solutions is useful.
•Methodology:Mixed Methods,design–based research,action research
Anything that allows me to do action research is okay by me. We all know that I have had some battles with action research (Scamp on the Battleground), but luckily for me for the UK does not have the same hangups about a valuable form of research. I thought that maybe by the end of this I would have some better insight into the inner workings of my own mind and how my world view shapes my research, but I think that I have to spend some more time in the quiet to really figure it out. It might be time to unplug, turn off, and really get my shit together.
I am looking at my flow chart and I see how busy I am. I really need to refocus and get those 500 words written so I can start setting up the rest of my research I need do to stay on track with my three year plan.