Friday, July 26, 2013

Doing Developmental Phenomenography

Bowden, John A., and Pam Green. Doing Developmental Phenomenography. Melbourne: RMIT University Press, 2005.

I bought a copy of this after reading it. 
Phenomenography is: 

  • non-dualist (which is different from individual or social constructivism (11-12) 
  • relational (the object of study is the relation[ship] between the subjects & a phenomenon) (12-13)
  • interpretivist--multiple realities (not singular or fixed reality) are constructed from interpretations made as a result of interacting with the world. 
    • What counts a knowledge (i.e., epistemology) is subjective
    • understanding or how we know what we know (i.e., ontology) is created by the transactions between researcher/s & participants/interviewees, & is also subjective or value-mediated.
    • Multiple, subjective realities are a result of interpreting interactions with the world.
  • inductive (bottom up)--findings & interpretations are drawn from raw data collected & analyzed (vs. deductive--construct a hypothesis & test it, top down)
Phenomenographers study relationships between subjects & a phenomenon (e.g., "color" in photography).
  • Context (time, space, & place) is not deconstructed (a naturalist approach deconstructs context), but analysis crosses contexts & individuals (34).
  • Coding: development of categories happens via an iterative process of (re-)analyzing transcripts (vs. open coding in naturalistic approach)
  • Uses maximum variation sampling (vs. critical or typical case sampling) (all 3 are types of purposive sampling)
Developmental phenomenography uses applied/practical outcomes to inform & improve practice, vs. pure phenomenography which is research for its own sake (35).

In phenomenography, the researcher has to "challenge one's own familiar ways of thinking & open up to the unfamiliar--the experience of another person." Interpretation involves tension & struggle, dialogue with difference, challenging & transforming the familiar, to come to agreement between the text (of interviews or surveys) & multiple interpreters (p.48), "to find similarities" in "the characteristics of the preceptions rather than ... individuals" (50). Categories "are not determined in advance of textual analysis," nor are "representations of individuals' perceptions. Instead, ... they are generated by the transcripts & are indicative of the unique range of perceptions expressed..." (51).

Phenomenography "entails going beyond 'what' questions ('What did you do?') to 'why' questions ('Why did you do it that way?')" (65). (This is relevant to the library website usability tests if Matthew were interested)

"What is important in a phenomenographic interview is not the examples of practice per se, but the way that the interviewee thinks about those examples, i.e., what they think the examples illustrate..." "Interviewees' ways of understanding teaching and learning [the phenomenon] must then inevitably be related to their actual practice, because how can one operate outside one's understanding?" Phenomenographic research can be through interviews, but also written comments to an open-ended questionnaire (66)! -- change CAP 115 research???   Keep in mind that, "There is no apparent link between mastery of information searching skills and the quality of students' information-use experience" (Sylvia Edwards, Panning for Gold: Information Literacy and the Net Lenses Model. South Australia: Auslib Press, 2006, p.71). However, "Treating information seeking and information use as integrated processes promotes learning" and "Learners reflecting on information use are likely to improve the quality of their information-use processes" (Christine Bruce, Informed Learning. ACRL, 2008, p.15).

Bowden & Green: "the phenomenographic researcher tries to make the variation in experience meaningful by searching for structure & distinguishing aspects of variation that appear critical to distinguishing qualitatively different ways of experiencing the same phenomenon from aspects that do not. The aim is to describe variation in a way that is useful & meaningful, providing insight into what would be required for individuals to move from less powerful to more powerful ways of understanding a phenomenon" (72).

Maybe what I do is more "action research"? But this kind of research intrigues me. My current question for libguides is: How do you (librarians, faculty, students) define categories of information in your field? 

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