The research question…

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I’ve had several comments about exactly what my research question is – oops I did mean to put them in my sidebar.

So today I’ve changed themes for my blog (well I did that the other day) so I could get the links to the other social media tools I’m using (Twitter, Facebook and about to add LinkedIn). I’ve also changed my side bar and removed material that is less relevant to what will be my focus for the rest of this year and next – my research! I’ve added in the research questions so they are always there as the context for the postings – I probably should add in the methodology as well.

All of this work is in part to assist me (nothing like having the questions in your face all the time).. but also because as part of this professional doctoral programme from the College of Education at the University of Otago, I not only submit a thesis, but also a Research to Practice Portfolio. One of the components of this is a reflective piece in which I will reflect on how I have influenced a community of practice, and how this community has influenced my research work.  I intend to excerpt comments made here or in Facebook and my reflections on these comments for this reflective piece. Of course, I will not name anyone, nor disclose any identifying data – it may be that I only cut and paste a few words which is the evidence of either contributed to, or having received a contribution from the fluid community that may form around my work.  Thank you.

Planning a mixed method study

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Today I’m writing bits and pieces into my methodology chapter, and I thought that I should reflect here on four key questions that Creswell (2003) states must be addressed by the researcher during the planning stage.

1.  In what sequence will the qual and quant data collection be implemented?

This is an easy one as for quite some time now I’ve been clear about the order. In order to look at the self-directed learning of occupational therapists – especially why people do what they do as self-directed learners , I firstly need to find a range of learners across the self-directed learning spectrum.  After all, one would suggest based on the research that highly self-directed learners would talk about a range of ways of self-assessing, have clear objectives linked to the outcome of the self-assessment, use a range of activities that fit with their learning styles, and have detailed self-reflections. And that those who rate themselves as less highly self-directed (I can’t find a way of describing those at the other end – except to say not self-directed) would find those various steps harder to do and therefore produce less detailed self-assessments, have objectives that perhaps don’t easily relate to the self-assessment, be limited in the choice of activities (and perhaps feel they aren’t great learning activities but that’s all they can choose from) and perhaps have more superficial critical reflections.

Now this is probably very simplistic, but when the research on occupational therapists and self-directed learning is sparse, what do we have to guide us.  There is huge amounts on student self-directed learning, but after that it seems that we all assume we are competent self-directed learners, therefore research has not been required – hmm???

It follows then that I should use a self-directed learning readiness scale that is quantitative – that I can complete a quantitative analysis which will allow me to describe a large group of people. From this group I can then invite those who are ranged across from not self-directed to highly self-directed to gain more insight into the nature of self-directed learning in New Zealand occupational therapists – which is the analysis of the online portfolios people complete for the OTBoard recertification process, and the semi-structured interviews?

Make sense – I hope so.. I need to work on building this argument for sure in my methodology!

2.  What relative priority will be given to the qual and quant data collection and analysis?

Now this seems a ‘too-hard’ question to answer at the moment – but perhaps not. Because I’m really more interested in the nature of self-directed learning of occupational therapists -then the relative priority should be given to the qualitative data collected through analysis of online portfolios and the interview.  The quantitative data exists to give a snapshot of a group of occupatioanl therapists and their rating of their self-directed learning.  On it’s own the outcomes of this scale will not say a lot? Hmm can I say that?

3. At what stage will the qual and quant data be integrated?

I think the integration of the data occurs when I take peoples’ rating on their scale, take the information I gain from analysing their online portfolios and use this to frame up the questions for the semi-structured interview.  You rate yourself this way, but your portfolio suggests this and what do you think???

4. Will an overall theoretical perspective be used to guide the study?

At this stage the overall theoretical perspective is from Garrison and his model of a self-directed learner – but before I get into the analysis of the online portfolios and the interviews I better be sure that’s the way I will go as I think this will shape up the way I frame my questions too.  The SDLRS that I’ve selected uses similiar subheadings to Garrison’s model although I don’t yet know whether a theoretical framework was used in the design of the scale. I know the process used to decide what questions to ask in the scale – but what informed the design of the questions is not clear I think.

Would be interested in any comments on above – and I will post up on my blog the research questions. One of the other outputs in the EdD programme is a portfolio and part of this is to talk about how my community informed my research  – so here’s your chance OT community!

Laugh needed as I write methodology chapter…

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Okay – I was going to do a serious blog posting about mixed methods – but I’ve just come across this through a friend on facebook and being Friday and inspired by Bronnie’s Friday funnies I thought I’d share this one from Phd.com

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Another week and a little closer..

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I’ve been thrilled to get 10 people willing to give me feedback on the adjustments I’ve made to the Self-directed learning readiness scale.  It’s been great as I’ve got a range of feedback, and I’ve been able to score three now which has helped me to think about not only the overall score, but what the subscores mean. I’ve also worked out how to organise the information in an excel spreadsheet .. although I’m probably going to use SPSS for the actual analysis.  What has been really exciting is seeing how a social media tools has been so valuable for my study – as people have volunteered through my one facebook request!

on a different slant, I discovered NZAOT were on Facebook (just very quietly – with initially just three friends – all NZAOT staff). I friended, then contacted all my NZ OT friends and told them about facebook. Their number of friends rose from 3 to 16 in 24 hours… Not a huge jump.. but it will be interesting to see what happens as more people tell more people….

Reworking the Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale for Nurse Education (SDLRSNE)

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After much deliberation I’ve settled on a scale that I want to use in the first stage of my study. It wasn’t easy – I think in the end I found about 11 possible scales, but discounted most on the basis that they had been designed for undergraduate students and I couldn’t find evidence of them being used  for health professionals.

I came down in the end to 2 – one by Confessore and associates called the Learning Autonomy Profile which measures the intent to engage in self-directed learning, and the one which is the subject of this posting – the SDLRSNE – sometimes also referred to as the SDLRS by Fisher, King and Tague (2001). After discussion with my advisor I’ve selected the SDLRS.. it’s Australian designed, it’s been used in health, and I can find one study where it was used with physiotherapists in an evidence-based practice study (Bridges et al, 2007).  I also don’t have to pay to use it (at least I don’t think I have to), and I can also create the survey online in a survey tool owned by University of Otago – which from an ethical stance of where the information ended up being ‘held’ felt more comfortable to my supervisor.

In the next 2 days I’m going to try and rewrite some of the statements without loosing the intent of the question and thanks to Facebook friends, I now have about 4 volunteers to try it out for me and provide feedback – I’m loving social media!

Update on progress towards implementing my research

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So today I finished and had my supervisor approve the invitation that the OTBoard of New Zealand will be sending out to all occupational therapists who meet my inclusion criteria. It’s pretty exciting to finally know that the invitation will be going out by email soon. I hovered over the keyboard reading and rereading the invitation – hoping that it will encourage therapists to contact me to find out more or to ask for the information sheet and consent form… was the tone right? Would it grab people’s interest?  I finally pushed the sent button… and now I’m waiting to hear back that my contact at the OTBNZ did get it okay!

Having got that step out of the way, I went back to the survey I’ve chosen (more on this later) and reviewed articles using it – and learnt in the process how to use Mendeley . One of my OT4OT colleagues highly recommends it – so I decided there’s no time like the present to try it.  So far I’ve been able to register, get all my endnote references into Mendeley, add in new ones, and even get those to go to Endnote.. so I guess if nothing else – I’ve got a back up for Endnote. I can’t quite get the Mendeley tool into word yet – clearly missing something obvious!

I’ve also met with Maori OT’s and worked out the processes for how they may participate in the research in ways more comfortable for Maori – so I’ll be working on that tomorrow as well…

Feels like good progress and still 3 more weeks of study leave to go!

Progress on EdD research

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Well the good news is that I now have ethical approval which means I can start talking in more depth about my research to occupational therapists (who may volunteer to be participants in the study).  This is a quick posting tonight as I’ve been working on our WFOT Congress presentation… I’m constantly challenged by giving time to projects that are group ones, and finding time to progress my EdD!

However, I did tonight write out the process by which I think I may be approaching Maori OT’s to be part of the study…and I have a meeting on Thursday which will hopefully lead to clarity on what processes will be used.  And.. I’ve also been talking with OT’s about what I should do to ‘advertise’ my research.  I’m also working on which self-directed learning scale to use. I think I’ve almost made up my mind, but will leave that decision until the weekend. First I need to advertise my study, then while I wait for volunteers to contact me, I can make the final decision on the scale…..

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