June 2017 sees me working towards completion of my PGCert project (Postgraduate Certificate, Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education), and towards the commencement of my AHRC-funded networking project, Claimed from Stationers’ Hall.
I’m very prone to starting one thing before I’ve fully finished another. My first attempt at a PhD foundered because I rushed into a postgraduate librarianship diploma course when I should have allowed at least a year for writing up my doctoral thesis. (And look where that got me. There’s no kudos in a Ph without a D, none whatsoever.) I eventually started and actually completed a different PhD a quarter of a century later.
This time, although I’m setting things in place for the postdoctoral project, I’m hopefully going to have the PGCert written and submitted before the postdoc network kicks off.
The PGCert Project
For long enough, I’ve been focused first on getting my practice-based project research proposal written and accepted, and then getting it through the ethical approval process. Between those two milestones, I devised my project questionnaire and two ‘interventions’ – experimental mini online tutorials that I would share with my chosen project cohort, asking them targeted questions to elicit their reactions to my efforts.
Finally, I was able to get the project under way. I shared the questionnaire several times. I set a deadline of the end of May, to allow myself time to evaluate the questionnaire responses. Finally this week, with the deadline past, I was able to start my analysis. I had 18 sets of responses, and decided that would do.
Some of my questions were multiple choice (eg, Did this help? Yes or no.) Others offered the opportunity to give free-text answers. When it came to analysis, the multiple choice questions were easily turned into pie charts, whilst the free-text ones lent themselves to textual analysis. Having sorted the answers into rough categories, I even managed to make some more pie charts. (My study was more like a pie-shop this morning!)
- Write something about my findings
- Arrange interviews with the survey respondents who expressed willingness to help
- Borrow a recording device for these interviews!
- Transcribe the interviews – luckily they’re only intended to be five minutes long, and I only have five possible interviewees, not all of whom might be available when it comes to fixing up appointments.
I’ve been studying the list of components for my ultimate submission, to ensure I don’t miss anything. This thing should have been submitted months ago, but there was a blip in my studies last autumn, so I currently have an extension, with the end of July as the final submission date – and the end of June as my preferred date if I can pull it all together in that time! According to the Project (PG Cert) Module Assessment Pack 2016-17*, my e-Portfolio requires various clearly defined components. Underlined text is quoted from the assessment pack document:-
- Literature review (1500 words)
- Delivery mechanisms and learning environments, ie the educational resources (aka interventions) that I have provided for my learners (1000 words). This includes:-
- (a) lesson plans and theoretical accounts. I have no lesson plans, because my interventions are online mini-tutorials for use at the point of need – but I can certainly provide an account of why I chose the interventions that I did, including my earlier analysis of last year’s library survey.
- (b) resources (handouts, digital resources, learning activities). I can provide the links to the interventions themselves.
- (c) Learning Technologies. If the links constitute ‘digital resources, learning activities‘, then I’m somewhat confused about what the ‘learning technologies‘ are, but I can write about the experience of compiling the interventions and other related technical considerations.
- Evaluative tools (no associated word count). This is for documentation of my ‘research mechanisms‘ eg ‘questionnaires, focus group questions, student feedback tools, assessment tools‘. I’ve got my email dated 8 May 2017 with the project outline, and my questionnaire and my interview questions to include here. [DONE] Also, presumably, the interview transcripts, which will be quite a lot of words. What a good thing there’s no word count! I have closed the questionnaire so that no-one else can answer it, but this renders the link inaccessible to my examiners, so I shall put the text of the questionnaire here instead.
- Analysis of data (2000 words). This falls into two clear components:-
- (a) Presentation of results (tables, graphs, narrative, depending on nature of results)
- (b) Discussion of results – critical reflection, comparison with prior expectations, and I must ‘synthesise the evidence gathered towards identifying what [I] have learned from the analysis of this data‘.
- Project conclusions and recommendations (2000 words):-
- How successful were the ‘learning experiences‘ that I designed?
- Did I deliver ‘learning experiences in line with [my] aims‘?
- Did I ‘support learners in their development‘?
- Did I ‘assess and provide feedback to learners to aid their development‘? Given that my learning experiences weren’t in a classroom or assessed setting, I’ll probably be able to say what I need to say in answer to the earlier questions.
- And did I ‘Engage in a meaningful development of [my] knowledge and skills in research, effective pedagogy, scholarship and the evaluation of [my] professional practice‘?
- I also need to include recommendations for my peers, line managers and the sector, arising out of my conclusions.
- There is more. I need to submit a Journal Summary (1000 words) with PDP, detailing where my learning development has changed with regards to ‘Pedagogy, Research, Scholarship [and] Professional Practice‘ – and I need to refer to key journal entries in that regard. The PDP shouldn’t go past 3 A4 pages.
- And a Bibliography
- And complete the UKPSF Checklist
If I were to write four days a week, then I would have sixteen writing days until the end of June, requiring 625 words per day. This may be unrealistic, given that I still have to do and transcribe the interviews, and much of the above requirements necessitate gathering material together as well as writing it up. On the other hand, it’s something to aim for, and would mean that by the start of July, I’d know what was still outstanding.