Researching towards a doctorate provokes discomfort for PhD researchers



In their joint pre-presentation post, Sharon Colilles, Helen Lyndon and Donna Gaywood are explaining how, thorough a community of practice, they have learnt about  saliences in their research design and the impact this has had on them as researchers.


Our collective research experience, whilst on very different topics, has provided us with unexpected communality. The researcher role and consideration of positionality sits centrally within all enquiry as our values and beliefs not only inform our decisions (Lincoln, Lynham and Guba, 2014), but also enrich our understanding as we progress through the research process (Musgrave, 2019). We have all chosen to research different topics at doctoral level, yet we find, through our research community, that there are connections through our consideration of positionality. For all of us there has been additional consideration given to the role of power within researcher positionality which has been supported by a praxeological approach (Oliveira-Formosinho and Formosinho, 2012); for all of us researcher positionality has resulted in discomfort.
Helen Lyndon's research explored pedagogic development and positioned practitioners as experts within their own context through pedagogic mediation. The practitioner's themselves felt uncomfortable with the notion of their own expertise and often lacked professional confidence when articulating their pedagogic choices. Power relationships were central to this research which illustrated pedagogic isomorphism in action. When empowered, practitioners drove setting development and reconsidered their practice in a variety of different areas.
Sharon Colilles's research explored pedagogic development and the dynamics of power and agency between professional and learner identity. Tensions existed as practitioners mediated play-based participatory approaches and dialogic conversations for facilitating young mixed ethnic children's perspectives about their ethnic identity. Findings argue practitioners need to develop their own knowledge of what constitutes, shapes and defines issues surrounding children's ethnic identity for transformation of practice.
Donna Gaywood's research sought to capture the post migration lived experiences of refugee children in ECEC. Narratives around refugees and host countries positionality, alongside the children's experiences of isolation within ECEC settings provided uncomfortable imbalances of power. However, the children themselves demonstrated high levels of agency, in spite of the low aspirations of practitioners and a lack of understanding of the refugee experience. A pedagogy has been developed to transform the uncomfortable spaces into spaces of welcome which promote belonging and a sense of identity.
Symposium 4 on Wednesday 17th February will begin with three presentations which all consider researching in uncomfortable spaces. All researchers explore developing pedagogy for the 21st Century and the discomfort that such developments can evoke. Such connections arise through the continuing development of a broader community of practice at CREC as all three researchers have connection through CREC Learning Circle and support one another’s research journeys.

Lincoln, Lynham and Guba (2011) Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions and emerging confluences revisited, in Denzin and Lincoln The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage.
Musgrave (2019) Reflexivity in Educational Research, in Brown and Perkins Using Innovative Methods In Early Years Research: Beyond the Conventional. Abingdon: Routledge.
Oliveira-Formosinho and Formosinho (2012) Praxeological researcg in early childhood: a contribution to a social secience of the social. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal Vol 20 (4) 471-476.


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