May 2019

After having a quick look at last month’s post, it is pleasing to say that I have managed to keep to “saying no” to added jobs… …for the most part. I have been mindful that sometimes saying “yes” means the job gets done quicker, and therefore more PhD time.
This month has been one of reflecting on the big picture, as well as the detail; with moments of clarity, and one where I feel it’s all a bit of a mess!

Having a journal which I highlight some key moments for most mornings, it has been easier to “park” or filter out the concepts that are not currently supporting my thinking. I say “park”, because, like a literature search, the article or concept has presented itself based on what I was looking for at the time- it may be something that is revisited in the future. This includes reconsidering my initial focus on higher order thinking skills (HOTS). Further reading has lead me to consider “critical thinking skills (CTS)” as going beyond, yet incorporating HOTS, along with self-regulation (i.e. student-directed; self-determination) as well as an action (usually incorporating reflectition).

I have also parked an investigation of practical skills within a virtual environment. Practical skills would include a different focus of learning, and as my research question is centred more on the high order thinking skills/ critical thinking- this does not seem to “fit” at the moment.

This month, I have also continued to find more support for incorporating constructivism into the theoretical framework; along with practice theory; situated learning; and self-determination theory. While I can identify some key concepts that are isolated to each of the theories, there are some characteristics that overlap (may be my being naive here…). This brought back the sense of being messy again (argh!), though I stumbled across a paper by Schott and Marshall (2018) which helped to validate my thinking. The authors integrate situational learning, experiential learning and virtual reality (VR) into one model. This seemed to mimic what I had jotted down last year, an integration of the WHAT (content- critical thinking), the WHO (students and stakeholders), HOW (delivery- problem based learning via virtual environments), and the WHY (pedagogical structures- theoretical framework).

There has also been some connections made with my notes (taken in isolation of one another initially) with constructivism, instructional design and problem-based learning (PBL). Overall, these “connections” seem to be shaping my theoretical framework. What is a little scary is that at times, it seems to have a mind of its own- shifting, clouding , clearing, shifting, then clouding again.

While I understand there are changes in the “weather” of preparing a PhD, I am glad that there are not too many “cloudy days”…!

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