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Posts tagged ‘ethnography’

day 1: finding, figuring, and settling in

January 5, 2016

lisa hammershaimb

In September I began writing my first, draft dissertation proposal. Couched within the penultimate doctoral course, Research Seminar 1, the idea was that we’d all write practice condensed dissertation proposals to test-drive research questions, methodology, and literature review

After writing juicy research questions about the experience of co-presence within the online graphic design studio, I began the hunt for a methodology. (Though graphic design education as a whole tends to skew opposite…I strongly believe in the potential of the computer-mediated + distance-distributed. I think it’s possible to listen well (even if your ears aren’t involved in the sensory process), walk with someone through a difficult season (even if you can’t be there to physically hold a hand), and have learning epiphanies that make you feel deeply connected to the larger world (even if you’re home alone and clad in pajamas.)

Having been impressed by dissertations that used ethnography, I decided it was “the one” and began writing. Though I came to ethnography because I resonated with its embedded focus, I soon began to wonder about if my own ontology might not be quite “ethnographic.” For example, in the literature there were many cautionary mentions of “going native” or losing outsider objectivity.

While I understand the rationale, one of my delights is the ease with which I “go native” with those I meet, actively interweaving my life with theirs. I love being a catalyst in forming/fostering community. I believe strongly in co-creation, collaboration, and that if one is curious–it’s quite possible to find and be accepted into the most significant moments in people’s humble, daily places. To me going native feels in many ways like the best validation ever because it means you’ve moved beyond an “I’m studying you” mentality and into a space of co-construction where we’re both living in “it” and studying/constructing/navigating what that experience might look like.

These realizations made me think that maybe I didn’t know myself as a research as well as I thought and…it might be advantageous to reflect on just what I bring to this process. Though I believe it’s important to choose a methodology that fits research questions and best serves the unit you want to measure, I think it’s just as important to choose a methodology that fits your own ontology as a researcher otherwise….eek…the process could be very square-peg-into-round-hole-awkward.

When I turned in my first draft proposal in early December, it was with the knowledge that I was still on the hunt and even more that I needed to clarify a couple more things within myself before I could commit to a framework. And so…over the past three weeks I’ve begun to window shop once more to see if there might be something else out there that’s a bit more in line with both my research questions and myself as a researcher.

I’ve currently settled into narrative inquiry. Though I have yet to fully decide if we are MFEO, I do know I’ll be spending this weeks #5papers looking at different facets + foci of narrative inquiry in an effort to better explore all it has to offer.




DAY 1: looking for answers…

January 27, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

So today I discovered that there are people out there researching studio learning methods and studio practices and even the pedagogy of learning in community and how awesome it is and how maybe it could even work with disciplines other than traditional fine/applied arts. I am stoked to read everything I can get into my little iPad screen because it makes me feel like there is actual merit to my own ideas…I’m not reinventing the wheel, just showing how it might roll along in another context or situation. I also discovered this great thing called “tacit knowledge.” Seriously…we’re all tacit knowledge experts if you know where to look and how to ask the right questions to reveal it. So yeah…I think today was filled with a couple larger positive turns and I think in the not too distant future I’m going to take the very scary step of sharing these ideas in an email and see how they distill out. Ironic right that I have no fears about sharing them on the internet because it feels so wonderfully cavernous and anonymous but sending an email feels like I’m rooting down…feels like I’m staking a claim and saying that this matters to me. And even more crazy…it does.

What follows is the wet paint…digital, yet still very open to fingerprints, smears, smudges, mixing, etc.

My area of research interest:
1. Tacit knowledge transfer in an online studio space

  • How does it work?
  • What is the experience like?
  • What channels does it utilize?

2. Learning Communities when studio cultures relocate to online environments or how learning occurs in horizontal communities rather than vertical instructor-oriented hierarchy

Why is this area important from a big perspective?
I’ve read a couple articles recently that have studied the positive effects of studio culture in arts-based college programs. Because studios are safe places with high levels of reflection, feedback, and group learning through critiques it is thought that they are particularly effective at helping designers “not just learn about” but also “learn to be”. The sharing of ideas produces self confidence and modeling of instructors engaging in process helps students get an insider view of industry tacit knowledge.

But how does tacit knowledge regarding design develop when the studio moves from a physical to online space? How do faculty-student interactions produce design knowledge and designer self efficacy when the studio space moves from being a shared physical location, hosted by an instructor, to an online interface ultimately mediated by a computer interface? Does the studio experience remain fundamental to the educational experience if there is no physical studio space?

Many schools are moving part or all of their delivery online in order to reach a broader base of students or cut down on their physical infrastructure needs and traditionally studio focused programs are also beginning to transition. This area of research is vital if online delivery programs are going to keep up high level of quality and produce not only students with functional program+software skills, but also who are confident as professionals.
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DAY 3: Qualitative Questioning…

January 22, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

While doing class readings in Creswell’s Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches, I came across three potential research approaches to explore. So, in tonight’s writing I thought I’d reflect on each and try my hand at writing a question in the theme of each and see what happens. The chapter overall focuses on Research Questions and Hypotheses and summarizes qualitative and quantitative research and how to create a compelling qualitative research question or quantitative hypothesis to be tested. It’s interesting stuff and admittedly nothing I’ve had any familiarity with before.

What is a qualitative study?
An academic study that is more focused on getting understanding of the “why” and “how” of human behavior and decisions. Researchers in a qualitative study state questions rather than objectives or hypotheses.

My question:
Does this mean they are more open to the process rather than achieving a set of objectives? Or are objectives also needed but not as explicitly stated? Is a qualitative study more contextual and factor-focused as opposed to generality based?

How is a qualitative study structured?
The study begins with a Central Question. The Central Question is a broad question that asks for an exploration of the central concept in the study. The Central Question is very broad. To construct the Central Question researchers ask, “What is the broadest question I can ask in the study?”

In Qualitative Research, the intent is to explore the complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon and present the varied perspectives or meanings that participants hold.

What is my central phenomenon?

  • Learning via an online environment (how is knowledge of a hands-on nature passed along?)
  • Identity transformation (how do mindsets shift to designer status? how do students shift mindset from one correct answer to many creative possiblities?)

Some different research approaches…

(descriptive emphasis; based on interviews and specific people; asks about personal experience)

  • What is it like to learn a traditionally studio-based artistic discipline in an online classroom?
  • What is it like to learn a very “hands on” trade via an online format?

(like studying a people group, thus more culture focused)

  • How do transformative communities form in an online graphic design undergrad program?
  • How do graphic design students, with the absence of a traditional studio, gain self efficacy in their skills and creative vision?
  • How can curriculum be designed to move students from a positivist view to a post-positivist view of creativity in graphic design?
  • How do students view knowledge upon entry into the program and how does that shift as they progress?

(Use observation, analysis, interviews, etc. to come up with a theory of learning graphic design via online methods. Works opposite of other approaches as it gathers in everything then sifts and threshes it to see what might remain)

  • How do students develop as graphic designers in a fully online education format?
  • What concerns might be important to students who engage in a fully online graphic design education?
  • What is the process by which graphic design students interact in a fully online environment?
  • What is the process by which graphic design students learn how to be designers, outside of a traditional studio space, in a totally online environment?
  • What is the theory that explains the process of discovery for graphic design student learning in an online environment?

So…those are the big three I’ve explored thus far. I’m kind of taken by the grounded theory idea but it sounds really hard and really complicated and totally scary. That said, I love that you’d first collect everything and then see what emerges because it has that element of unexpectedness to it. I think one of the harder things about this exercise is being so broad. I was thinking I needed to be as narrow as possible with this but in reality open is much much better because it allows you to explore the wide fringe connections you might otherwise dismiss.

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Chapter 2: Philosophical, paradigm, and interpretive frameworks (pp. 15-34).

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