Letting go of my comfortable bioscience identity

identity

It has been a while since posting, and this post has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while.

I have now entered the second year of my EdD at Anglia Ruskin University. I have passed two of four assessed papers, and have been lucky enough to have the first one published and the second one accepted for publication pending minor revisions. I’m still not quite sure how that happened.

I have now reached the stage where I have to “properly” start thinking about my research, the methodology and methods I plan to use, and offer some sort of justification for them. This is immensely daunting, and I am still on a very steep learning curve when it comes to social science research, paradigms, ontologies, axiologies and all the other “-ologies” associated with qualitative research. It is scary to think I am supposed to go into stage 2 at the end of September…

On the drive to work yesterday, and again today, I was mulling this position over. It is an odd realisation that I am experiencing feelings of accomplishment in my bioscience “day-job” while at the same time feel like a complete impostor when it comes to my EdD. Someone will soon find out I don’t know what I am talking about, right..? How do I reconcile these feelings, and how do I make sure they stay balanced?

I have been thinking about ways of conquering these feelings of inadequacy, and last night I woke up with a light-bulb moment: perhaps it is time to let go of the comfort-blanket offered by my professional identity as a bioscientist, and create a new blanket instead. I am supposed to transition to becoming this hybrid bioscience-education management practictioner-researcher with feet comfortably in two fields. There will probably always be tensions between the two identities, but they should be able to co-exist and each be called upon when required. Creating the new blanket is the process of doing the EdD, and the actual finished product will be the completion of this project in a few year time. I am ok with this.

This timeline also means it is ok to be insecure and uncomfortable for a while. I have been lucky enough that I have landed in a very supportive cohort of EdD students, and have met some great academic staff that are willing and able to advise where necessary. Last but not least, there is the brilliant Twitter EdD community for support. There are some excellent bloggers and tweeters out there doing EdDs who are struggling with similar issues to mine, and together we will get there! #EdD #ARUEdD to the rescue!

Upwards and onwards. Time to start writing about my research approach. Time to get my head around Grounded Theory. Time to keep up with #AcWriMo.

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EdD – workshop weekend 1

This weekend I took part in the first workshops of the Doctorate in Education (EdD) which I have started at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin University. Friday night was predominantly an education to the programme, and today (Saturday) was the first ‘proper’ workshop. As it is a professional doctorate, the programme starts with a cohort phase. My 2016 cohort consist of a group of 7 including me, with a wide variety of backgrounds and previous qualifications.

The first session revolved around the concept of educational research: What is is? Who does it? Why is it done? and What are some of the issues around it? Due to the wide range of backgrounds in the group, this led to an interesting discussion on what the goal of educational research is, and we came up with a fairly lengthy definition with some extra features.

what-is-educational-research
Outcome of the discussion of what educational research is. Copyright ARU EdD cohort of 2016.

The second session addressed what it means to be (a) professional. This was a difficult concept, mainly because the term professional, and the associated term professionalism, had different meanings for people in the group. However, we all came to a consensus that professionalism is the more encompassing set of behaviours, values and actions which one needs to display in order to be a professional. On the other hand, what makes a professional was not as easily defined. In order to investigate this further we were asked to produce a short autobiographical piece on how we have developed as professionals to date, followed by more discussion. This made me realise I have come quite far in a fairly short period, and that I have made some unconscious decisions which led to where I am now.

Today has been an intense, but enjoyable day, and I feel I have made the right decision enrolling on the EdD. I look forward to the next workshop weekend, and have some good ideas for the first formative report in preparation of that weekend.Lots to think about, and a massive chunk of reading to do, but I look forward to exploring my own professional practice more over the next few weeks.

A new journey

journey-start
It will be a long one …

It’s official: from September 2016 I will once again be a doctoral student. It has been a long process, and it has taken a lot of thinking and discussion with various people (you know who you are, thanks!), but I decided to apply for a place on the Professional Doctorate (EdD) in Education at Anglia Ruskin University a while ago, wrote a preliminary research proposal and was invited for interview a few weeks after submitting it.

The interview was more like a professional discussion than an interview, and was actually a really good experience. It has given me food for thought before I start, but it has also made me more enthusiastic.

I will be investigating if and how HE course leaders in small specialist institutions use evidence as a base for their decisions, with Writtle College as a case study. I am looking forward to the new challenge, and to the new direction my career will take me in. As this project is directly linked to my role at Writtle, it should be immediately useful. Hopefully I will have some time to fully reflect on my career choices and decisions later in the year. Blog post to follow.

This summer will be spent finishing various research projects. I have one or two papers to write/resubmit before I start the EdD, so plenty to do. But before that, finish the never-ending marking… it will be over soon… it has to be…