Finishing … again

It’s bitter sweet, but every essay I finish leaves me longing for more. Now that it’s finished, I am left with a need for feedback. I know it will come, and I know there are others who will be interested in what I’ve written, but for now I am content in knowing it’s finished. This essay – a quantitative research proposal – brings me one step closer to the comprehensive portfolio.

What did I learn from this task, this writing, this research? As part of my comprehensive portfolio I’ll need to capture what I’ve learned from this exercise.

This research proposal was different than a literature review or an essay on a topic. This was a way to deconstruct a research proposal and, I suspect, these skills will help me build a research proposal for the upcoming Research Colloquium course. This paper includes a literature review that included some familiar territory, but pulled in new directions of research that I hadn’t explored before. Key pieces of information relating to teacher educators in faculties of education came to light during the literature review phase of this paper. I also discovered some new and interesting material from UNESCO and OECD (see references below).

But my most recent discovery is the Higher Education article “Database of 7 million syllabi pulls back the curtain on higher ed” that showcases a Galaxy graphic visualization that “shows the 164,720 most frequently-assigned texts in the Open Syllabus corpus, a database of 6,059,459 college course syllabi”. This led to a dig into the texts assigned in education courses – a momentary diversion, but a much needed connection to cognition and learning since this is the field of study I will need to connect to for my comprehensive portfolio and the PhD dissertation.

In completing this research proposal paper, I’ve discovered that research doesn’t rest! There are always new directions and new reports that will impact and shift my work. There are multiple connections that will inform my writing. Even at the moment of submission I was finding new papers that could have and should have been included. Yet, as long as I can acknowledge these new directions in future writing, or in a defence of my writing, I know that will be enough. I suspect that this will be an issue in the comprehensive portfolio defence – ensuring I’ve read, researched and written broadly and deeply enough to satisfy the committee’s expectations.

In completing this research proposal paper, I’ve learned that my writing and my research question will continue to iterate and evolve. As I shape my own words, so too will the feedback I gain also shape my next steps. As I talked to my instructors about the proposal and received feedback for next steps or elements to consider, I realized that what I was thinking about, what I was writing about, how I was writing it – it all had some merit and value. I just needed to put it down on paper (or into some form of text writ broadly) to communicate these ideas to others. I’ll continue to explore other media of expression – text continues to dominate expectations but alternative media modalities will become infused into my work.

I’ve also learned that I need to be consistent, persistent and intentional in the collection and management of my resources. This is not yet the time where I need to narrow down or dig deeply in my research and direction. There is so much yet to learn – theories yet to be explored, research methodologies yet to experience, researchers yet to read. But managing my reading collection and the resources that come with it need to be specific. Since I’ve discovered the power and potential of Zotero in managing a bibliography for a research paper (thanks to Anneke!) I’ll need to regularly attend to including new readings and texts, as well as fine-tune the curation of references in Zotero, in order to support my dissertation. I also plan to explore End Note as an additional tool in the bibliographic and annotation toolbox, along with additional contributions to the NVivo that I’ve started as a result of this course assignment.

Finally, I’ve come to realized that even when the writing is done, there are ways to rework and rewrite for a different purpose and a new audience. I’ve discovered some new options and opportunities for publication – issues and journals that may be a venue for papers to become ‘public’. Even as I search for this option, I am very cognizant to the open options available and the goal of publication is to be read. Ensuring that media making is integrated into every piece I complete is something else to consider, since the more I work with text (letters and words on a page) rather than media, the further I move from these forms of communication. Reworking using infographics, memes, audio recordings, video components, and sketchnotes needs to continue to be integrated into this work.

In terms of synthesis of this paper in the field of study for cognition and learning, this research proposal has resulted in significant increase in my awareness of the potential and possibility for this type of research, along with the options for alternative thesis presentations other than through empirical research. I’m not convinced that this form of research is how I hope to complete my dissertation, yet it is something I am more comfortable talking about, at least. As a result of this paper, I am also very aware of the extensive learning I will need to do if this form of research is how I will proceed. I have just sampled from the quantitative research buffet, knowing there is so much to devour should I be interested in doing so. The truth about how people ‘learn’ to be open is certainly connected to cognition so this may also lead to new directions in my research. What learning theories will impact ‘learning in the open’ and therefore, how teachers can teach in the open?


OECD. (2019). How teachers and schools innovate: New measures in TALIS 2018. Teaching in Focus, No. 26. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. Retrieved August 3, 2019 from

UNESCO. (2018, March). Fulfilling our collective responsibility: financing global public goods in education – UNESCO Digital Library. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from