Get Your Geek On: Topic Investigation Reflection

Learning from Topic Investigation by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on how I completed my investigation of blended learning for Assignment 1.  I will describe what I learned from the research, how the assigned text helped me analyze the sources, and what I would have done differently.

The Investigation

    I began the assignment with a central topic (blended learning).  I then chose to type in keywords into PsycINFO, PsycJOURNALS, and Psychology Database.  I filtered the results using the tools in the library.  I used the peer-reviewed articles tool, the source type, subject, and classification. 

    After a close examination of the titles, I moved onto the abstracts.  Thereafter, I looked at the entire article, specifically searching for literature reviews, reliable data collection, and conclusions that supported my question. 

For Assignment 1, I chose the articles that delved deeply into my topic of interest and that left room for further research.  When I found keywords like “further research is needed” or “more exploration is required,” I set those articles aside for additional examination. 

The Process

    I learned a great deal from this process.  There were several discoveries that I made, most of all that the practice I am using in the classroom is researched, but mostly that more research is needed.  For example, in the article written by Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison (2012), I discovered that many institutions are trying to adopt blended learning, but they are at different phases of the process.  The article enlightened me regarding my place of employment and where they are in the process.   

Some universities are in the first phase, which is in the “awareness/exploration” phase (p.  11).  Most of the classes at the university where I teach are strictly traditional, providing lectures and standardized testing as a means of assessing achievement. 

The ultimate goal is to reach the third stage of implementation, which is “mature implementation and growth” (p.  11).  The third stage means that blended learning is integrated heavily into the curriculum, and constant improvements are being made to the programs.  Additionally, the improvements are driven by data collection and re-revaluation procedures. 

All three of the phases mentioned in Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison’s (2012) article began at the faculty level.  In other words, an instructor saw something that may be better for student outcomes and looked at implementation.  Still, there are barriers with policies, a significant lack of support for blended learning, and noteworthy benefits are not being seen on a large scale (p.  11).  I believe this can be changed. 

Sense and Nonsense

The information in Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) helped me decide what articles were worth reading and which ones were not.  I used Chapter Five to avoid untrustworthy authorities, going deeper into the methodology and data collection.  I searched for fallacies, self-proclaimed knowledge, and expertise.  If I found multiple articles by the same author(s), I took note of that, but I also looked for validity.  As I have noted before, and a point that Ruscio (2006) emphasizes in the text, just because something is popular does not mean that it is credible. 

    I used to think that experience served as a viable foundation for all things.  Chapter Six of Ruscio’s (2006) book taught me that I have been dreadfully wrong.  Using all of the sections in the sixth chapter helped me avoid articles that focused primarily on beliefs without foundations.  Also, if the article brought up situations that had absolutely no foundation in theory, I tossed it based on this week’s readings.  I adhered very closely to the lessons in Ruscio’s (2006) book to safeguard against foolish assumptions and flawed logic.

Do-Overs

    As I reflect on the research process, I would not change my approach.  Utilizing the tools available through the library helped me avoid problems with validity and reliability.  The peer-review tool is an excellent safety-net. 

As for the writing, I cannot think of anything I would have done differently.   My writing is guided by the research, and I work strictly from an outline.  It helps me create a coherent assessment of findings.  The outline also allows me to see where the research is lacking. 

The goal of any assignment is to think critically about the findings and move beyond what is known.  Thus, I discovered that I need to dig deeper into the research about blended learning.  I want to employ evidence-based practices in my teaching styles to improve student outcomes.  Finding gaps will help me fill in those blanks with my own sound, credible research.     

Conclusion

    I enjoyed Assignment 1.  The evidence involving blended learning implementation, perceptions, assessment, and success empowered me to find out more.  In addition, I want to know if a transfer of learning component has been integrated into the current models.  However, finding research regarding the transfer of learning component is challenging.  Nonetheless, it is providing an opportunity to fill in that gap with my own theory and research.  I am looking forward to the challenge.  In the meantime, this assignment has taught me how to look at articles with skepticism and try to find literature with foundations in empirical, primary research involving a peer-review process.

References

Graham, C., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. (2012).  A framework for instructional adoption and

          implementation of blended learning in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education,

          18, 4-14.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

          Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

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