Reflections on the First Phase of my PhD Journey

Finally, I have finished all the 6 compulsory MSc modules. Phew! 😀 Now I can continue my journey through the next episode of my life as a doctorate student in this beloved university.

Revealing the last two grades of my assignments was a bit surprising. I scored better in Quantitative assignment. Wow, I thought I was a more qualitative than quantitative person as I am always confused seeing that numbers and tables, but actually I can do it too 😀 .  One thing I learn, we can always learn new things however complicated it is if we live with it 😀 .

Reflecting, I realise that due to my worries maybe I spent too much time on my quantitative assignment and spent less on my qualitative one. I do wish I had spent more on qualitative, but I can’t blame myself too because I started quantitative module from a scratch. I have never used SPSS before, and did not really understand which are the IVs or DVs, types of data, scale, nominal, ordinal, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics etc etc. All were new to me, though not really new, as I also did statistics when I was in my undergraduate level (but it was formula and calculator based 😀 no SPSS) and it was almost 17 years ago :D. Therefore, everything is new again for me. Luckily, we had a wonderful and supportive lecturer who made us enjoy the supposedly painful statistics journey and gave us so much time to practice and consult him (again and again :D) with his open surgery schedules.

From the feedback of this module, I realise that I did not strictly follow the convention of writing a quantitative report. I did not know well how to present the results, whether on tables, or in paragraph, and where to put the information. I made several mistakes on this flow such as putting the effect size in the inferential statistics when it is supposed to be reported before it, and not reporting the inferential statistics on different paragraphs based on the RQs or hypotheses. Had I followed these procedures accurately, I would have scored better (but I am quite happy with my current grade 😀 😀 ). So, being able to run the analysis is a one thing, and reporting the results correctly is another thing 😀 .

Meanwhile, for qualitative assignment, I also used a brand new method that I have always wanted to use since a long time ago that is Narrative Analysis. Due to my novelty to the method, I might miss quite lot of it and still a bit too ‘greedy’ to involve as much as possible. That was why I lost focus sometimes and tended to write too much (as mentioned in the formative feedback) though it was still within the allowed word count.

Further in the feedback, it was mentioned that I was sometimes too speculative and did not hedge enough when trying to make sense of the data by referring to my experience. I tried to apply my theoretical sensitivity based on my personal and professional experience: D which apparently I still could not do well. I have to learn more about this matter that I would never repeat the same mistakes.

The next thing in the comment was about the translation issues. I did not translate my data in the appendices and just put the original data. I should have been more cautious about it although it was allowed to put my data in the original language in the appendices.  There were also comments about assumptions in my RQs and a lack of clarity of in one of it; “teachers’ experiences of their story of what?” which is a warning for me to be more cautious in the future. All in all, I have learnt a lot from my sessions in the classes, sessions in the tutorials, the assignment writing, and the feedback of these two assignments.

These two modules and the four other modules I took in term 1 are all essential to help me develop as a researcher. As I have mentioned in my previous post, I could not imagine going through my PhD without having these six modules as the foundations. These six modules are the complete menu that we, new researchers, need to know in order to start conducting our research. On the first term, we learned about how to read and write critically, to plan our research, and to generate both qualitative and quantitative data. Then, on the second term, we learned how to analyse the data that we generated. These modules have helped me, and I believe my classmates as well, to develop our 4 Cs (Fay, 2012 J ) Curiosity, Creativity, Confidence, and Competence as a researcher, the four important factors that all should have to be good researchers.

Besides the six modules, there are also training couses offered by the library and methods@manchester to support our development such as trainings on how to use Endnote, successful searching, writing literature review, writing academically, trancribing video or audio data, speed reading, designing academic posters, etc. These trainings are also very useful to help improve our skills and knowledge as researchers.

Having through all these, I believe that now I am more prepared to conduct my main doctoral research and to develop even more in the wider academic community.


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