mindful inquiry

Cultures Of Inquiry: Research Methods and Reflection

mindful inquiry
Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

Cultures Of Inquiry

During the first week of our course, we were asked to complete several readings regarding traditional concepts of research methods. We explored and discovered various perspectives and concepts in cultures of inquiry — including, phenomenology, hermeneutics, ethnography, quantitative behavioural science, action research, evaluation research, historical-comparative research, critical social science, and theoretical research. We were also asked to develop a mind map to visualize our findings and reflect on how some of these concepts relate to our experiences.

As a college instructor and program coordinator in the field of media studies—I must admit—I have never had formal training in the above research methods. The notion of contextualizing some of the concepts to my current and or past experiences felt a bit overwhelming at times. After completing the readings and assignment, I found myself connecting the dots and reflecting on past experiences that I had encountered when I practiced many of these concepts. Although, I was unfamiliar with the concepts, I realized that I had applied most of these concepts of inquiry over my career as an educator.

tree in Oakville's 16 mile creek
Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

Research Methods and Reflection

As I reflected on the readings, I came away with some very insightful information and methods that would help me identify, plan and solve problems that we are faced with within my program and department. Many of our students come into our program with a post-secondary education from notable colleges and universities. Some are unable to find jobs due to their lack of technological savvy, experience with software applications and web-based languages. e.g., HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP etc…. On the other hand, a good portion of my students are categorized as ‘adult learners’. They have been out of school or the industry for some time and have a steeper learning curve to overcome; when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom and workplace. With such a diverse spectrum of learners that occupy my classroom, I often wonder how can I deliver content in such a way that each student—regardless of age, gender, social status, knowledge and experience—can learn the concepts in a clear, accessible and meaningful way that enables them to achieve their personal and or academic goals?

“Interpreting and explaining the way people in a group, organization, community, and society live and experience their ‘real-world’ situations within their environment.”

— Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE.

Exploring the ethnographic inquiry helped me discover how I developed my own strategy for solving these issues. In my opinion, interpreting and explaining the way people in a group, organization, community, and society live and experience their ‘real-world’ situations within their environment is a key prerequisite to evaluation research and applying an action-based inquiry method. I always found myself to be a facilitator with an action-based approach that tried to guide and influence students in achieving their academic goals and career decisions.

In 2009, I developed an online application system for student applicants who wished to enter my program. The assessment would prompt the students to submit their online portfolio along with a current resume and letter of intent; stating how our program would help them develop their career goals and aspirations. The assessment also had an online computer aided tutorial that would help me understand the applicants level of computer competency. These tools allowed me to not only capture the level of knowledge that our applicants possessed upon entering the program, but it helped me facilitate and deliver meaningful content for the learner as it pertained to their career goals. This made for a better learning environment and allowed for more flexibility in the classroom. I could now instruct the core concepts of design and development but also tailor the lessons and assignments to help our students achieve success in the classroom and beyond graduation.

As I progress in my studies and complete my Masters, I look forward to discovering more about these topics and methods with my classmates and faculty. I can only hope that things get a bit easier to digest as I become more familiar with the methods of inquiries. However, the readings and subject matter of Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE. has provided me with a solid understanding and beginning to this new journey in Education and Technology.

M.

References:
Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE.

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