APA 7 – Citations and References

Many universities are transitioning from APA 6 to 7, which is a learning curve for educators and students alike.

Learning in chunks is the best approach as opposed to dealing with all 395 pages of the latest APA manual. I’m slowly introducing my students to APA 7, beginning with the new style of citations and references.

The guide posted below provides examples for resources that my students often use and is not meant to illustrate the wide variety of citations and references available in the APA 7 manual.

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Identifying Meaning Units in Reflective Lifeworld Research

Parts-2, participant 3. Photo by Janet Symmons. CC0 licence

In Dalhlberg et al.’s (2008) whole-parts-whole approach to data analysis identifying and placing meaning parts together is an integral factor to explicating the essence of a phenomenon. However, there remains a paucity of examples for creating meaning units in reflective life research. This sparsity is an advantage and a challenge to researchers using this methodology.

My familiarity with Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis laid the foundations of my understanding and practice with meaning units as I read through the interview transcripts of my current project. Unfortunately, after a few attempts, I was left with vague meaning units that didn’t adequately connect with each other. I tossed another document in my computer trash bin and started yet agin.

I needed a break from my computer. I selected several textbook from my bookshelf, along with a notepad, pencil, and eraser, and relocated to my kitchen table. Sometimes a slight change of scenery is like a cognitive breath of fresh air. With a steaming cup of coffee in hand and refreshed mindset, I cracked open a recently acquired used research book and began scanning the pages for useful nuggets of information. Continue reading

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Sampling Recruitment and Phenomenology Research

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I debated how to recruit participants as I prepared the methodology section of my dissertation. The literature indicated the majority of post-secondary educators do not use open educational resources (OERs), which is the topic of my study. Additionally, I wanted to hear from educators who were not necessarily OER advocates, but educators who quietly use OERs in their teaching practices and not consider themselves champions of a cause. Phenomenological researchers do not offer much guidance on sampling strategies. For example, Creswell (1998) suggested criterion sampling (p.118), but that was a given because of the topic. During my eight months of data collection I used three strategies: random, snowball, and purposive.

The established criteria for my study were university educators in Canada who use OERs in their teaching practices. Next, I selected three universities within a 100 kilometre radius where I would recruit participants. These universities served different needs in higher education. One was is a comprehensive university, offering a large number of undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees. The second institution offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, many of which employ blended or online delivery methods. The third university focuses on undergraduate degrees but does offer some graduate degrees. Continue reading

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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: random sampling and purposive sampling. I will write about sampling methods in an upcoming post.

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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Choosing Phenomenological Research

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Phenomenology is not an easy research methodology to grasp. It’s philosophical foundations make it formidable to approach and it’s various traditions can be confusing. Indeed, even the terminology, such bracketing and intentionality, demand phenomenological researchers embrace new meanings for common words.

Reflection lays at the heart of the methodology. Similarly, critical reflective practices are ingrained in educators throughout their academic careers and are often employed in an effort to transform teaching practices (see Brookfield, 2017). Brookfield discusses the four lenses of critical reflective practice, which are “students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, theory, and personal experiences” (p. vii). Embedded in personal experiences are personal interests, which is where I see my connection to phenomenology. 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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