As you all might have noticed, we went offline for a little while. As much fun as we have when blogging about our PhD-lives, we need ideas for interesting blogposts. So, we took a little break, allowing ourselves to have experiences we could later write about. And look, here we are, back with new blogposts :-).
This week, I am taking you with me in a flashback to my stay in Berkeley. The previous time I wrote, it was mainly about my preparations for and my first experiences in Berkeley. Now, I have been back for a little over two months, and will write about what useful knowledge and experiences I gained. Because even though I was there for ‘just’ six weeks, what I brought back will last me months! In this blogpost I will focus on two of those insights I’ve gained.
- Starting to rethink your theoretical framework is not a bad thing at all
In my previous post, I wrote that I was doing some rethinking about my theoretical framework. When I was still in the process of gaining new experiences, I got a bit nervous about this. I mean, my theoretical framework had been like that for almost two years, and now I was seriously contemplating the idea of moving some concepts around and adding a new one. For, what I found out, was when I was talking in Berkeley to people about differentiated instruction (the main topic of my PhD research), they would start talking about equity. Therefore, it would seem like a good idea to include that concept in my theoretical framework. This requires a lot of rethinking: where would it fit, if it actually does fit? Something I have been thinking about ever since I got back. Let’s just say that, at the moment, it gives me enough to do, as I try to read myself to the right answer at the moment. It is nice to know that spending several weeks talking to different people on the other side of the ocean can have this impact. Small side effect: it also has led me to other concepts and ideas.
- Working with someone ‘new’ on your data can help you find new ways to analyze
What I also mentioned in the previous blogpost was my contact at UC Berkeley. After that first meeting where she came up with people’s names I should visit, we discussed my data. Rethinking my theoretical framework had caused me to also overthink how I was going to make the data I hadn’t used yet, fit with the first paper, I had just finished. So I asked her what her thoughts were. I presented her an overview of the data I have collected and my main research questions. After some discussion on what I actually want to achieve with my research, she proposed a way to analyze my data, that would require me to spend a lot of time with my data without coding immediately. She asked me to analyze part of an interview that way and then we discussed what I did and what the next steps in the analysis would be. For the rest of the meetings I had with her, we kept doing this. We constantly used the same part of the same interview, but dug deeper and deeper in it. A very interesting way of analysis. And at the moment I am analyzing the rest of my data the same way. It fits with my goals and I hope it will indeed help me to achieve them.
To sum up, my stay in Berkeley got me to (re)think and change the original plans for my thesis. Of course I don’t change everything I rethink, but the fact that I will keep some things stay the same, makes me more determined in what concepts I’m studying and how I am conducting my research.