Phases of Research and Engagement

Note: the order of the phases below may vary according to the opportunities that arise, and in any case these phases are overlapping and iterative. That means you revisit the different phases in light of
a) other people's responses to what you share with them, &
b) what you learn in other phases.
At the same time, you will be developing as a reflective practitioner, in and through relationships (q.v.).

A. Overall vision
Goal: "I can convey who I want to influence/affect concerning what (Subject, Audience, Purpose)."

Processes: Freewriting and journalling (using workbook).
Compose and revise initial description and Thesis Question
Iteration: Sharing initial description and thesis question with others -> revise A, and angles of inquiry for B. (Note: Sharing runs through the entire process -- see also C, D, G, H)
B. Background information
Goal: "I know what others have done before, either in the form of writing or action, that informs and connects with my project, and I know what others are doing now."

Processes: Identify possible informants to guide your inquiries in their early unformed stage.
Learn or refresh bibliographic searching skills on and off the internet.
Establish internet link-ups, and bibliographic and note-taking systems.
Compile bibliography, filtered and annotated with respect to how what the reading/interview connects with your project
Literature review
Phase B -> revise A, and provides grist for C.
C. Possible directions and priorities
Goal: "I have teased out my vision, so as to expand my view of issues associated with the project, expose possible new directions, clarify direction/scope within the larger set of issues, decide most important direction expressed in revised Thesis Question."

Processes: Mapping, prepared then presented to & probed by others
Discussion with professors and peers.
Phase C -> revise Subject, Audience, Purpose in A, more/ different work on B.
D. Propositions, Counter-Propositions, Counter-Counter-Propositions...
Goal: "I have identified the premises and propositions that my project depends on, and can state counter-propositions. I have taken stock of the thinking and research I need to do to counter those counter-propositions or to revise my own propositions."

Processes: Analysis of Ps, C-Ps, C-C-Ps for the different aspects of your issue, prepared then presented to & probed by others.
Discussion with professors and peers.
Phase D -> more work on B, revising A & C, and to questions that need first hand information in E.
E. Design of (further) research and engagement
Goal: "I have clear objectives with respect to product, both written and practice, and process, including personal development as a reflective practitioner. I have arranged my work in a sequence to realize these objectives."

Processes: Compose a realistic timetable with a thought-out sequence of steps, or
Strategic personal planning (proceeding through 4 stages: Vision-> Obstacles-> Strategic Directions-> Action plans)
Phase E -> revisit/revise A - D, especially Thesis Question.
F. Direct information, models & experience
Goal: "I have gained direct information, models, and experience not readily available from other sources."

Processes: Identifying practitioners who can be informants, instructors, interviewees.
Arrange the necessary interviews, participant observation, evaluations, and other engagements.
Prepare interview guide, practice mock interviews using equipment, conduct interviews and digest recordings or notes, or
Prepare evaluations, conduct them, and analyze the data, or
Conduct a pilot survey or intervention and then design and undertake a revised version; or
Attend workshops or demonstrations on practices that might be incorporated in project.
Establish contacts with practitioners and specialists who can interpret the technical issues and identify where you might pursue studies in greater depth.
Establish contacts with and interview practitioners or activists who can help you interpret the controversies and politics around your issue.
Phase F -> revise D, and also revise/ revisit A-C (especially Thesis Q.) & possibly E.
G. Clarification through communication
Goal: "I have clarified the overall progression or argument underlying my research and the written reports I am starting to prepare."
Processes: Work-in-progress presentations--preparing text and visual aids, delivering, digesting feedback.

Narrative outlines.
Phase G -> revise E, D, Thesis Question in C, and also revise A, more work on B & F.
H. Compelling communication
Goal: "My writing and other products Grab the attention of the readers/audience, Orient them, move them along in Steps, so they appreciate the Position I've led them to."

Processes: Drafts, commented on by readers
Final report.
Phase H -> revise outline G, and revise H, with possibility of further research B, E & F for this project or future projects (see C -> new A), and even revisit/revise A, C & D.
I. Engagement with others
Goal: "I have facilitated new avenues of classroom, workplace, and public participation."

Processes: Run-through of activities and other group processes, commented on by participants.
Plan for future development of activities or group processes in light of run-through.
Plan future written and spoken presentations.
Begin to explore avenues of public participation and define proposals for (further) engagement/action.
Phase I -> more I, and possibly E-H.
J. Taking stock
Goal: " To feed into my future learning and other work, I have taken stock of what has been working well and what needs changing."

Processes: Process review cover note & annotations.
Written self-evaluation.
Discussion with peers.
Written evaluation of processes.
Begin to plan future extensions of your research.
Phase J -> future A-I.

An overlapping list of process goals

The course aims to cultivate research and action processes that you will continue to use, including:
  1. Integrate perspectives from previous courses into your own research and action. Connect knowledge and skills to an interest in social and educational change.
  2. Organize time, research materials, computer access, bibliographies, etc.
  3. Self-discover and self-clarify direction to take.
  4. Not to get blocked by obstacles, but turn them into opportunities to move into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory.
  5. Develop your own criteria for doing work, criteria other than "the professor is setting the hoops that I jump through to get a good grade."
  6. Get support and advice from peers, professors and outsiders. Initiate and develop a supportive community for your development during this semester.
  7. Experiment with new tools, even if not every one becomes part of your toolkit as a learner and as a teacher/facilitator of others.
Updated: 6-17-02