22 SES 12 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
This paper contributes to the theme of the conference as it has at its centre, a method of data collection which we believe to be creative and innovative. The paper arose from the concerns of a professional doctoral student and her supervisor regarding the level of reflexivity displayed within a professional doctoral thesis and was written in response to a question raised at the viva: Can one be too reflexive? Davies et al (2004) acknowledge the spectrum of reflexivity and are clear that there can be no set amount that can be ‘just right’, in performative terms. Kamler and Thompson (2006) advise that each person needs to experiment to find what is the most appropriate voice of authority for him or her. Despite, or perhaps because of, its elusiveness, a measure of what is ‘just right’ is still a matter of judgment. Too much and it risks being seen as self-indulgent; too little and the reader/examiner is left guessing what went on during the doctoral process; and long expositions about the ‘dilemma’ of how much is ‘just right’ are likely just to annoy.
The paper seeks to account for the way we practiced reflexivity in order to consider and challenge power relations and reflect on movements in and out of spaces, thus tracking the means by which the subaltern student found her tentative and emerging authoritative voice (Skeggs, 2002). In so doing we hope to stimulate a dialogue around what it means to ‘do’ reflexivity in the context of doctoral study, and as such, anticipate that this paper may contribute to the complex decisions made around reflexivity for neophyte researchers, and their supervisors.
It tells of the reflexive ‘trip’ undertaken by the student and supervisor, and using a dialogic approach, seeks to consider how reflexivity was ‘done’. In so doing, we have identified three lines along which reflexivity appears to have been practised: conceptual, ethical and performative. These expose reflexivity as partial, fragmented and dynamic, leading to the contention that it would appear to do its work by disturbing, disrupting and opening up new possibilities.
Adkins, Lisa. 2003 ‘Reflexivity: Freedom or Habit of Gender?’, Theory, Culture & Society 20(6): 21–42. Barnacle, Robyn and Inger Mewburn. 2010. "Learning Networks and the Journey of 'Becoming Doctor'." Studies in Higher Education 35 (4): 433-444. Batchelor, Denise and , Roberto, Di Napoli. 2006. "The Doctoral Journey: Perspectives." Educate 6 (1): 13-24. Davies, Bronwen, Jenny Browne, Susanne Gannon, Eileen Honan, Babette Mueller-Rockstroh, and Eva Bendix Petersen. 2004. "The Ambivalent Practices of Reflexivity." Qualitative Inquiry 10 (3): 360-389. Deleuze, Gilles. 1995. Negotiations. Trans M Joughin ed. New York: Columbia University Press. Drake, Pat. 2010. "Grasping at Methodological Understanding: A Cautionary Tale from Insider Research." International Journal of Research & Method in Education 33 (1): 85-99. Forbes, Joan. 2008. "Reflexivity in Professional Doctoral Research." Reflective Practice 9 (4): 449-460. Kamler, Barbara and Pat Thomson. 2006. Helping Doctoral Students to Write: Pedagogies for Supervision. Abingdon: Routledge. Patai, Daphne. 1994. “(Response) When method becomes power”. In Power and method: Political Activism and Educational Research (pp. 61–73) edited by Andrew Gitlen . New York: Routledge. Pillow, Wanda. 2010. “Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research”. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 16 (2): 175-196 Richardson, Laurel. 2003. "Writing: A Method of Inquiry" In Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials., edited by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications. Skeggs, Beverley. 2002. “Techniques for Telling the Reflexive Self”. In Qualitative Research in Action, edited by Tim May. London: Sage Publications. Taylor, Carol A. 2011. "More than Meets the Eye: The use of Videonarratives to Facilitate Doctoral Students' Reflexivity on their Doctoral Journeys." Studies in Higher Education 36 (4): 441-458.
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