A reflection about writing good recipes for research

Preparing my research proposal this week was easier than I expected because we’ve been focusing on a different part each week.  I’m appreciating how this process has helped me to learn each step but to keep bringing it back to the context of my research problem.  In our twitter session this week, we reflected on our understanding of the research proposal parts; I like the analogy of a recipe, in that the proposal should describe the ingredients of the project as well as the process or steps involved.  I kept thinking to myself, “If someone had to replicate your project, would they understand your process?”  At the same time I did not want to second guess myself and attempt to change the content too much.  I continue to “trust this process” and focus instead on each step along the way, making sure I understand its purpose, how it fits in the entire project, and working on building my skills.  I made one change to my methods – to conduct individual teacher interviews rather than facilitating a group interview.  I edited my interview protocol document and changed the references to each document so they matched the Appendices.

As I read through other research proposals, I also kept asking myself if the proposals were clear and if the methods fit the problem.  Reading the proposals on each blog is helpful because when I have a question, I can first go back and read the writer’s posts about the various steps before writing my comments.  Even though we are each conducting our own study, it feels as if we are invested in one another’s research and that by sharing this process together, we learn from our own project but also through the trials and errors of others.  I responded to several of my peers about their methods and documents and that helps me to understand the details of their data collection methods and how it fits into their overall process.  Working in the “open” also sets a higher bar for each of us; we are not just conducting research for ourselves to share but to also further the learner of our peers.

I am currently working on two projects that involve writing proposals and this week I have learned some important aspects of writing proposals effectively.  That analogy of a recipe has helped me to think broader about each project and what they aim to achieve.  When all the parts of each project work towards the problem or specific focus, then the project has more viability and validity.  I also had difficulty with finalizing protocol documents because I always want to remain flexible and was worried that something might come up that I hadn’t anticipated.  However, when I think about this carefully crafted recipe, in which the ingredients have been reviewed and approved, I am reminded to trust this process and follow through on what I have presented.

I also began to see this week how important the review of the literature was in this entire process.  Having read so many articles related to gamification and teacher interventions helped me to understand that finding gaps along the ways IS part of the process.  It is in discovering those areas that need further study or scrutiny that makes classroom research important; not just to “solve” the problem but to understand it and how the related issues can inform our practice and prompt further studies to better that practice.  I also need to remember that I selected my research problem because MinecraftEdu is a relatively new but increasingly popular tool for teachers.  Understanding how teachers can effectively manage their students in a virtual game environment helps not just the teachers to use this tool well but enables the students to engage in a meaningful learning environment with an exciting and appealing tool that is already familiar to most of them.

I am very excited to begin the bulk of my data collection tomorrow and to have an opportunity to test my protocol documents over the next couple of weeks!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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