The pace of things is increasing in advance of my forthcoming review and the agenda for this meeting was focused more or less on my draft report which I need to submit 2 weeks before the meeting. My date is August 28th, so I have all summer to stress about this.
So as my project gathers pace I need to think more and more concretely about it, tighten the focus on what questions I am going to ask and make sure the methodology supports and articulates with the literature and questions I’m asking. I’m hoping for a successful outcome to the review – this will mean that I am deemed competent enough to conduct the research I’m proposing and the decision will be made on how well I can justify the choices I’m making about every aspect of the project design so far. So all going well I’ll be able to pilot some methods early next school session and begin fieldwork sometime after that, hopefully around September.
I submitted a draft report for discussion at this meeting. Discussion with Mark was as usual hugely helpful and encouraging. There is work to be done but apparently it’s about 90% of the way there. I know what I need to do. Certain parts of its need re-structuring or refocusing and I need to align my research questions more closely with my methodology. And I need to flesh out my methodology.
I will be doing a case study which is underpinned by critical realism as a theoretical framework and the methodology will be congruent with this. I’ve been skirting around critical realism for a while and it’s only now that I am really beginning to see how useful it will be for me. I think part of my avoidance has been the language and expression of some of the writing – not the most accessible, but in terms of theory and philosophy I guess it’s never going to be easy.
So after discussion I have a clearer understanding of what purpose it will serve. What I want to look at is learning rounds as social processes – interactions among humans within existing structures and conditions. Critical realism, and in particular Margaret Archer’s model of analytical dualism gives me a way to frame this study and analyse the processes involved in these interactions and observe what changes might or might not be taking place. . From what I know about the literature around professional learning communities so far is that most of it is a-theoretical, only some of it is empirically based and little of it looks at the actual processes involved in the work these PLCs do. My study aims to illuminate these processes. It will hopefully provide some new empirical knowledge which is supported by social theory for an under-researched area. Having already conducted a literature review into learning rounds and instructional rounds I can say with certainty that no empirical studies have been carried out into this and reached publication. Only five peer-reviewed papers were identified to consider as part of this literature review. I hope that the work I’m about to embark on will ultimately provide something useful for the profession that will be recognised as an academically sound piece of research. Let the grafting begin!