Supporting the The Master of Research: Education and Society Programme

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A short reflection on research and sense(s)

In today’s Core Theory session with Rachel we discussed questions of epistemology, philosophy and ontology. In encouraging us to stand back and think about our taken for granted assumptions, truths, beliefs and convictions we carry around with us, Rachel forced us to attend to the conceptual frameworks we all bring to our research enquiries.

These provide particular ways of seeing; windows to the world that throw light on some things and not others. These frameworks – built up over time, through our experiences, our connections and encounters with others (human/ non human), or memories of pasts (real and imagined) – are integral to the way we approach research – the things we see as significant, the quandaries that ‘itch’ and keep us up at night.

This metaphor of conceptual frameworks as providing us with particular lenses on the world – ways of seeing – is useful in thinking about the ‘doing’ of research.

I also wonder what other metaphors of sense might be relevant to research.  Thinking about this, I returned to the words of Les Back who I referred to in Tuesday’s session where I talked about some of the different ways we might define ‘research’ and what it can and does do.  Les argues that Sociology is a craft of attentiveness, an ‘art of listening’. He calls on us to be patient in how we listen as well as look upon the social world when we do research. Here is a longer quote from Les:

“Some people argue that that means we’re facing a crisis of the empirical. What value can there be for the humanities and social sciences in a world of prodigious, extraordinary, powerful corporate and state information machines. That’s one way of thinking about itas a crisis and informational struggle that we’re completely impotent in the face of. I have a different feeling about it. It comes back to the training of a certain attentiveness, of slowing down the pace of thought, of asking different questions, and having a different kind of attention. It’s a tough enterprise. And the fact that it’s hard makes it important. We need the time to think carefully, to ask difficult questions, and to challenge our own assumptions about what we think is the case. To cultivate that patient openness to the problems that keep us awake at night and that we feel passionately about.”

(Les Back- available here: )

Posted by Kim


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Your blogs…

Hello everyone.

Well done for getting started on your blogs.  We’re really looking forward to seeing how these develop and hope you find them a useful resource and space to reflect on your learning and research journey.

As we discussed last week, a good first step would be if you could create a ‘page’ and perhaps a ‘post’ to go on your blog.

Most blogs have an ‘about me’ page which allows those who visit your site to get an idea about who is writing the blog, and provides a context for what you’re writing about.  It would be helpful if you could create an ‘about me’ blog before tomorrow’s ‘blogging clinic’ tomorrow afternoon (1.30-3pm – in the IT room in Birley that we were in last Thursday).  There’s no right or wrong way to write this but you might want to think about including some or all of the following information:

  • Your education and professional background
  • Your research interests
  • How you came to be on the MRes – Why this course? What are you hoping to get from it? etc.
  • Personal interests (if you wish!)
  • Maybe a photo?

Have a go if you can, and we can discuss this and other blog-related issues tomorrow afternoon.

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Ground rules (draft 1)

Here’s our summary of the discussion on ground rules and expectations from last Tuesday’s session. Please feel free to add your comments.

Expectations of students

  • Collaborative working (e.g. group projects, online discussions, blogging).
  • Reflection and criticality.
  • Active participation – contributing, asking questions, reading and responding to blog posts, showing initiative, doing your share, preparation, self-directed reading .
  • Independent learning – taking responsibility for your own study, and raising issues if they occur.
  • Time management – attendance, punctuality and meeting deadlines (e.g. assignments).
  • Professional conduct (e.g. adherence to university rules and regulations, adhering to ethical standards).
  • Supporting others, having respect for others, and listening to others.
  • Appropriate online conduct (netiquette).

Expectations of staff

  • Communicating our availability (office hours).
  • Prompt reply to emails (within three working days maximum, but sooner if possible).
  • Provision of feedback (e.g. blog comments, reviewing assignment plans)
  • Openness to feedback.
  • Professional conduct (e.g. punctuality, appropriate preparation).
  • Support for group learning (e.g. fair facilitation of discussion and awareness of group dynamics).
  • Opportunities for interaction, including social events.

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Hello fellow bloggers

Hi everyone,

As the resources from today’s induction session ‘Introducing online learning on the MRes: Moodle and Blogging‘ are useful for everyone across the programme, I thought it useful to post them here.

Thanks everyone for participating in the discussions today around online learning and blogging – it was great to share our varied experiences and perceptions, and I’m sure as you progress through the programme you’ll help each other in becoming active and reflective learners facilitated by the Moodle and blogging environments.  Using the ‘technology in my pocket’ (camera phone!) I captured our thoughts and thought it useful to share.

Hmmmm, note to self “write more neatly/clearly on the whiteboard in future” – perhaps while the discussions are fresh in your mind you could reflect on the discussions in your own blogs, or comment here!

Remember, this is a blog ‘post‘, therefore as more pre/post-session thoughts and reflections are posted by the programme team it will disappear out of sight (posts appear in date order, newest at the top).  By categorising this post (with ‘induction’) and tagging it with various keywords, you’ll be able to find this post more easily in the future using the MRes categories and MRes tags displayed to the right.

Well done on creating your blogs, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon,

Cheryl 🙂


Get ready to blog


Cheryl here, supporting the MRes programme team to consider how blogging can facilitate your research practice, and to get you all up and running with your own reflective blogs.

Have you any blogging experience?  Please comment below.

(We’ll be referring back to this post and the web form below once you’ve all created your own blogs.)

See you all soon.