Phenomenological Methodology Interview Reminders

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I don’t have extensive interview experience. The 16 interviews I’d completed prior to my dissertation were all learning experiences that helped build my confidence and prepare me for the upcoming dissertation interviews. I soon realized how rusty my interview skills were when I piloted my questions in November 2018. The four participants provided valuable feedback and allowed me to practice phenomenological bracketing, which was devilishly difficult as I personally knew all the participants.

In January 2019 I began the interview phases of my data collection, which concluded in August. I conducted 11 interviews using two sampling methods in two phases: criterion random sampling and purposive sampling.

During the interview phase, I created a short list of reminders that soon became a habit to read prior to each interview. Continue reading

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Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks

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Last week I briefly chatted with Madeline Walker, the co-ordinator at UVic’s Centre for Academic Communication, about the differences between a conceptual framework and a theoretical frame. Madeline captured our conversation and recently posted it on the Graduate Student Writers’ Community website.

Madeline’s post is located here.


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Phenomenology Research: Bracketing and Transcription

A master’s student recently asked me for some tips when preparing for data analysis of a phenomenology study. Bearing in mind that she is using van Mannen’s (2014) approach whilst I follow Dalhberg, Dahlberg and Nyström’s (2008) reflective lifeworld research approach, there are differences with how we conduct our analyses. Phenomenological approaches have many similarities, so after pointing out this out, I explained how bracketing (bridling) during the interviews and transcription processes prepare us for data analysis.

Bracketing (Bridling).Bracketing is the term used in many phenomenological methodology approaches and refers to the researcher holding preconceptions and biases in abeyance during the data collection and analysis activities. I found that extremely difficult to do, as I am unable to remove my previous knowledge and experiences from data collection and analysis. Continue reading

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Creating an effective Handout for Class Presentations

It’s the end of the semester, which is a perfect time to reflect on how to improve courses for the next time they are run. In Ontario Tech’s Assessment for Adult Learning in a Digital Context, I ask learners to teach others how to do a certain type of assessment. These peer skill exchanges are conducted in small groups to give learners an opportunity to practice their teaching skills without the pressure of teaching to the entire class.

Part of the requirement is to create a handout so the learners have a resource to refer to when they implement that type of assessment. I found that some students were creating handouts that were a synopsis of their presentation, which isn’t an effective use of a handout. For teaching skills, handouts should be a useful takeaway that attendees can later refer to to help them recall how to implement the assessment. Continue reading

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Creating an Outline Using Margin Notes

Knowing the narrative of a section of a dissertation is important before sitting down at the computer. I usually have the narrative, or flow, of a piece in my mind and don’t map it out. I’m very fortunately that I’m able to visualize the story beforehand as this saves me a lot of time. When I can’t see the narrative, I sometimes just start typing. Sometimes the information I’ve read ahead of time comes to mind and the piece works out rather well. Other times, however, it’s a mish-mash of thoughts, topic sentences, and a disjointed mess.

I over the weekend I set about writing a section on the Canadian Copyright Act, emphasizing the fair dealings sections, and the lack of copyright comprehension by educators. The seven pages contained some well-written paragraphs, but lacked a good flow. I felt a bit like a pinball when I re-read the piece. The topics (and the poor reader) were bouncing from one subtopic to the next, and then back again. Continue reading

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The Four-Week Ph.D. Candidacy Exam

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On March 16, I successfully completed my candidacy exams. In the curriculum and instruction specialization program, faculty of education, at the University of Victoria, candidates are emailed four questions and must answer two questions within two weeks. The final step is a presentation and oral exam. This post details some of that experience.

Answering two questions doesn’t seem difficult, but each answer must be a 30 to 40 page academic paper, not including references. The first question focuses on the candidate’s area of specialization and is known as the content question. The second question is on methodology.

I prepared meticulously for the exams over the past several months. Integral to the preparation was believing I had successfully passed the exams. I wrote the first two chapters of the research paper and completed a rough draft of the methodology chapter, and even up until the night before my exam began, I was adding to my quote bank. Continue reading

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Optimizing the Learners’ LMS eLearning Experience

The first eLearning course I enrolled in in the year 2000 was a nightmare because I couldn’t find all the required pieces of the course on the website. Granted, LMS (learning management systems) were in their infancy at that point, and I honestly don’t recall which, if any, LMS was use. Nonetheless, the course left such a horrible impression on me that it took many years before I attempted another online course.

I always remember that experience when I design my courses. I’ve worked primarily in Moodle and Blackboard, and each have their pros and cons, but no matter which LMS is used, making the course as learner friendly as possible is always at the forefront of my layout. Continue reading

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A Dissertation can’t be an Eight Hour a Day Job

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Before I began my PhD journey, I had a to do list of unrelated things I wanted to complete either before I graduated or shortly thereafter. Looking back on that list as I enter my third year in the program, I realize that I was able to accomplish only one goal: keep teaching. The other goals were pushed aside by real and self-imposed deadlines … and life.

Teaching, particularly a very interactive online course, takes up a large amount of time, both in prep work (on average it takes me about one hour to script, shoot, and edit one minute of video) and during the semester (student meetings, synchronous classes, and marking). Continue reading

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Toward a New Work-Life Balance

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In August I packed everything up and drove across the country to begin my PhD journey.  Starting a life 4000 km from everything I know was fun and challenging. But one of the biggest challenges was finding a new life balance for family, friends, career, health.


I’ve often wondered how, not that many generations ago, people could uproot themselves and stay connected with loved ones only by Canada Post. Thankfully my phone has a good long-distance plan and keeps me in touch. I would feel so isolated without weekly chats to share and stay up to date. Continue reading

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Solomon Four-Group Design

I was in the midst of reading Creswell’s chapter 10 (experimental designs) when I noticed that he does not describe the Solomon four-group design. In my library of 17 research textbooks, only two describe this between-groups design. Additionally, information on the Internet is sparse, and it does not have a Wikipedia page.

The Solomon four-group design can be used to mitigate threats to external validity, particularly the affects pretesting has on the overall study. This may also lessen the Hawthrone effect, where participants are motivated to improve because they are part of a study. Continue reading

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