PhD Note 20/2015


Image shared under a creative commons BY 2.0 license by Simon Cunningham

This week I have mostly been:

  • Continuing my literature review work, in particular, this week I have been reading about the neo-liberal and neo-conservative perspectives which have driven some of the changes in teacher education under Thatcher’s Conservative government and New Labour.
  • Attending my first advanced statistics workshop – it was a great way to consolidate the independent learning that I have been doing around Sensitivity and Specificity of data analysis, and the use of Receiver Operating Characteristic curves.
  • Introducing my students to the Mozilla Webmaker suite of tools. This has actually been over the last two weeks – last week we used X-Ray Goggles to ‘hack’ websites and this week I provided the group with a SoundCloud file of me discussing Interactive Whiteboards which they remixed using Popcorn Maker. I wanted the sessions to show the group the potential of online tools for teaching and learning; we ended each session with a discussion of how to the tools could be used within their contexts.

Next week I will be continuing my literature review work and having a meeting regarding open badges schemes.


PhD Note 18/2015

This week I have mostly been:

  • Continuing reading on teacher professionalism and education. I visited the University of Leicester’s library this week and set up an external borrowers account as they have a particularly strong education library. Some interesting points have arisen from this week’s reading – namely, that Bond (1996) identifies two key aspects of a professional: autonomy, that they are regarded as competent enough to practice without intervention, and having a monopoly on a certain kind of knowledge, in the case of teachers this would be pedagogy. Through the last two governments we have seen shift from university-based teacher education to school-based training which has reduced the amount of theoretical pedagogic study. We have also witness an increase in monitoring and government dictation of a teachers role, lessening their autonomy. If we are to agree with Bond’s assertion that autonomy and a monopoly on knowledge are key to identifying a profession, these recent changes, at the hands of the government, could be seen (and have quite widely been) as a purposeful move to deprofessionalise teaching.
  • Supporting my MA students with writing their own ethical approval forms. Having only recently written my own, I think this was a good time to support others as I am very aware of the potential challenges and, having received feedback from my own supervisors, recently informed of what is expected by the Faculty’s Ethics Committee.
  • Participating in Leicester City Council’s OER schools event. The event was a great opportunity to catch up with school staff I had previously worked with as part of the DigiLit Leicester Project, and also to collect resources on OERs for my MA students.
  • Attending a library workshop on setting writing goals. I’ve been wanting to develop better writing habits as it is the part of my PhD work that I have been struggling with the most. This session helped me to see the bigger picture and how my monthly writing targets fit into my larger deadlines (such as formal review in October). It was also really useful to discuss writing with other PhD students and get some advice and tips from them.

Next week I will still be continuing my literature review work (I’m afraid this portion of my weekly updates is likely to be a little repetitive over the next month or so) but also trying out some of the great tips I picked up to help with my writing.

PhD Note 17/2015

This week I have mostly been:

  • Delivering my first solo lecture for the Technology-enhanced practice module. I’m working with a great group of students, covering all levels of education (from Primary right up to HE) so we have some interesting discussions.
  • Completing my ethical approval draft. It’s taken slightly longer than I would have liked but it is still completed before the end of the month so that’s a plus.
  • Visiting the British Library. I found a book on teacher education which I could only access in a handful of libraries so I took the opportunity to sign up for a Reader Pass. The book covers the history of teacher education and professionalism. Out of the 5 volumes I was able to gain access to 4 (one had a catalogue issue) and typically it is the one I couldn’t access which offers the most value so I’m likely to visit again in the near future. The volumes are made up of collections of writings, brought together into themes – with the first two volumes covering the history of teacher education.
  • Reviewing my productivity – I have mentioned on many occasions that I am always striving to be as productive as possible. I noticed that it is nearly a year since I last reflected on my productivity and so I thought I’d review my current practices to see how they match up.

Next week I will mostly be continuing my literature review work. This will be interspersed with more lecturing, starting a new Doctoral Training Programme module on Advanced Statistical Analysis and attending Leicester City Council’s OER Schools Conference.

PhD Note 16/2015

This week I have mostly been:

  • Submitting a 3,000 word proposal assignment for the Doctoral Training Programme. I decided to use the assignment as an opportunity to get some feedback on the research design for my thesis, which can then be used to complete my proposal for registration.
  • Meeting  the masters students whom I will be teaching as part of the Education Practice MA. This week myself and the module leader introduced the module together, next week I will running a session on digital literacy.
  • Discussing how I can develop my literature review writing. This week I had my fourth supervisors meeting, it was very productive and we covered a lot of topics for me to investigate further in developing my literature review work.

Next week I will mostly be focusing on continuing my literature review work (my next supervisors meeting is only 2 weeks away so I need to crack on with developing my writing) and competing my ethical approval documentation.

PhD Note 15/2015

Image shared under a creative commons license by Roman Boed

Image shared under a creative commons license by Roman Boed

This week I have mostly been:

  • Locating new resources for my literature review. I am currently reading on teacher professionalism and am looking at resources which cover: how professionalism is interpreted, how professionalism has developed in recent history and how political intervention (such as the 1988 Education Reform Act and 1944 McNair Report which influenced the collaboration of universities and teacher training schools) has shaped professionalism in the UK.
  • Registering with The British Library so that I can go and visit soon!
  • Building content into Blackboard for the module I will start teaching from next week. This has been particularly exciting for me as I haven’t used Blackboard as an instructor before.
  • Writing on the four ages of professionalism.
  • Submitting a proposal to present at the 6th Annual TEAN Conference. I presented there last year on the findings of the 2013 DigiLit Leicester survey. This year, Richard Hall and I are proposing to discuss the key findings of the surveys from both 2013 and 2014 and their implications for teacher education.
  • Reading on the development of teacher professionalism. After an exhausted end to last year I feel like I’ve really got my academic mojo back – I’m getting excited about the papers I’m reading again and it’s all starting to fall into place (which is handy since I have a literature review to write).

Next week I will be teaching my first lesson in H.E (!), continuing my literature review work and finishing off my ethical approval application ready to get some feedback from my supervisors.

PhD Note – 14/2015

Over the winter break I have mostly been:

  • Planning my first PhD Memo – considering the point at which I begin my study and the assumptions and experiences that I bring with me on this journey.
  • Beginning to write the first section of my literature review.
  • Drafting more of my ethical approval form and accompanying documents.
  • Preparing to teach my first module in H.E – Technology Enhanced Practice for the MA Education Practice.

I have also been:

  • Celebrating my grandparent’s 50 wedding anniversary at Chatsworth with my family – including my wonderful cousin whom I only get to see once or twice a year.
  • Crafting a small mountain of Christmas gifts for my loved ones; including a crocheted hat with a beard, a set of felt birds, a set of felt nativity hanging decorations, a tea cosy and some liquorice caramels.

crafts xmas 14

  • Spending quality time with my family, usually outdoors.
  • Watching the Royal Institution Christmas lectures.
  • Eating what some may perceive as an inhuman amount of cheese and crackers, often accompanied by cider.


PhD Note 11/2014

This week I have mostly been:

Attending the final lecture of my first Doctoral Training Programme module – Research Designs in Health. As I have already studied research methods and design at a Masters level this course was a handy refresher. I also have an assignment to submit as part of the module, a research proposal. I have decided to use this assignment as a way to get further feedback on the proposal I am currently writing for my ethical approval.

Completing the RDP module in literature searching, through a final face-to-face component. Again the session was a useful recap of the search strategies I have learnt in the past, but it also introduced me to a number of tools that may come in handy over the next few years:

Library Search – a new service on the DMU library website that allows you to search all content in the library by keywords in one search. This could be used for testing out my search terms and also to give an indication of the amount of content available in my area of research.

Copac – identifies which universities hold the texts that you search for. As I have SCONUL membership I can use other university libraries but I hadn’t been sure how to know where else to look before.

Scopus and Web of Knowledge – both of these sites are citation trackers. This service can be used to check the quality of the paper you are reading and also look for later publications which refer to it that might be relevant to your study.

Zetoc – allows you to set up an alert for certain journals and keywords, this way whenever something new is published you are alerted to it – helping you to keep up to date with the literature in your field, throughout your thesis.

Getting inspired by this blog post from Dr Catherine Flick – discussing a new method she has developed for managing her notes, quotes and references from papers and chapters she has read. In my last supervisors meeting it was suggested that I look into management tools for helping me to do this (I’ve always manually typed out citations) and I have to admit I’m not familiar with the tools. I found this post quite interesting and I am definitely going to look into trying this method as I think it could be a really useful way of managing all my reading notes and citations.

Reading for my literature review. I am currently looking at texts which focus on teachers, their professional identity and the role of professional development.

Next week, I will be focusing mainly on more reading for my literature review, further writing of my proposal and I will also be volunteering some time to the graduate school to help trial a new service for postgrads that makes submitting of all our forms a little easier to manage.