Pilot Study Workshop

The Pilot Study Workshop on October 19, 2022, was the first milestone event of the 2022-2023 academic year. The workshop was hosted by Dr Jianwei Zhang, associate professor in ETAP, Learning Sciences researcher, and Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Learning Science. To read more about Dr Zhang’s research lab, and his work with students, teachers, and scholars in the Learning Sciences field click here. 

The workshop began with a conceptual overview of the pilot study. This was followed by a discussion of the pilot study timescale, how the pilot study is assessed, funding opportunities, and some general top tips and resources.  In the final 30 minutes of the session, there was a Q&A drawing on questions and resources generated by the attendees using Padlet. To see a detailed breakdown of the takeaways below, check out the recording of the workshop on our YouTube channel here and the Padlet here. 

Workshop takeaways: 

The pilot study is an opportunity to: 
1. Test and refine your research plan.
2. Test data collection and analysis methods.  
3. Work out logistical issues. 
4. Develop existing work from the graduate classes. 

Overall, the session was a chance for us to think about how our in-class discussions, developing research plans, and wider ambitions to better understand and improve learning contexts can be realised by putting our thoughts and words into action. 

As we know, starting the research process can be daunting. Lots to read, methods to learn, techniques to master, and unfamiliar protocols to follow. However, the pilot study is a great opportunity to test the waters. For us to take off our shoes and socks and dip a toe. The water is cold at first but soon warms as we familiarise ourselves with the research process and learn from critically observing our ongoing practice. In this light, the pilot study is a formative assessment not solely for faculty to measure our understanding and progress, but a chance for us to reflect on our development as researchers. As we enter the dark pool that is the research process, we see both our feet below the water and our reflection on the surface. Each step brings to the fore swirls of sediment, uncovering previously hidden information of what lies beneath, all framed within a broader view of ourselves on the research journey. Whether carried out by graduate students or established professors, no research is perfect. By making a start and engaging in personal and shared reflection we have an ‘object-to-think-with’ (in a constructionist sense) that we can use as a base from which to build. 

And remember, we need not go it alone…! If you would like to meet up and talk about the pilot study or other research you are working on, come along to the Peer Research Forum on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month! Here is a link to the research forum. https://etapdocs.sunycreate.cloud/etap-doctoral-research-forum/

Watch the video of the workshop here:

Written by Tom Underwood (tunderwood@albany.edu)

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