Emergent reflections

A space where I can digest some thinking through the writing process - liminal, emergent and reflective.

Student Research Colloquium - Wollongong

Margaret.OCONNELL's picture

I visited the University of Wollongong in NSW before Easter, and caught up with Dianne Allen and Vicki Vaartjes over lunch in the process, with my overall aim to see what research students in the Faculty of Education were currently up to.

I got a chance to meet and chat with Peter Kell (lead researcher into the TAFE Futures Inquiry), Associate Dean Research, Jan Wright and others involved in the Faculty.

[Sculpture at UoW by Bert Flugelman]

I left with much food for thought, both from my conversations with Vicki and Dianne, and also from the students' presentations of their research proposals and research-in-progress. It's made me think about my own research in a refreshed way and from new angles, including the practicalities of engaging in collaborative research which is altogether time-consuming and an emotional journey as much as a professional one (as you'd no doubt understand!).

I'll be presenting some of my proposal sections/ideas in later blog posts, not only sparked by my Wollongong visit, but also from ongoing online conversations with Dianne. I'm hoping to formulate a proposal, having taken a hiatus from studies for this semester - but after seeing the UoW students in action, I'm motivated now more than ever!

If you wish to contribute to our conversations or share your thoughts on my proposal, please do, by leaving a comment here on my blog posts or by entering a blog post of your own and linking back to my blog here.

I hope you enjoyed a refreshing Easter break!

Dianne.ALLEN's picture

UoW Faculty of Education Research Student Colloquium

30-31 March 2007 was the 19th Research Student Colloquium of the Faculty of Education of the University of Wollongong.  The last couple of years UoW has run two colloquia a year, one in March and one in August.  It is one way of consolidating the panel work of reviewing research proposals and upgrades from masters to doctorate studies, and ensuring appropriate staff availability for such panel inputs.  It also offers a regular, relatively inexpensive forum of peers for research students to offer a presentation of their work, whether their 'research proposal', or their 'upgrade application', or a 'work-in-progress'.   Within the Faculty's structural support of their research students, these events mean that there can be a mixed audience, of staff and students, and students studying in a similar area, and students from other areas.

The Colloquium operates like other conferences: notice is give of dates, abstracts are called for, a program developed of at least three concurrent presentations at any one time, time (20mins) for the presentation, time for questions and interchanges about the research (20mins) and for the research proposals and the upgrade applications there is formal feedback from the panel that helps progress the students on thier research journey.   Supervisors usually attend a student's 'required' presentation, and the panel, when required, includes at least three other staff, helping give independent and broader feedback than is the usual situation of the primary and secondary supervision pair.

For the presenters there is also the opportunity of feedback, peer empathetic engagements of support, and making possible connections with peer researchers on a similar journey and sometimes in a similar research area.   Those starting out on thesis studies can find out how others are travelling, those making their first presentations can find out  more about the next stage from those presenting 'works-in-progress', which typically present ideas developed while undertaking the literature review or literature chapter drafting, or the reporting of findings as the data starts to be processed, and written up.

Speaking personally, I find situations like these colloquia (and UTS was running a similar sort of research students conference in 2005-6) very stimulating.  The presenters are dealing with something of their own practice that is very important to them, and are grappling with both theory and practice, and sharing that helps me think again about my own practice.  I am especially attracted to sessions that are close to my own area of interest, to help check my own progress, and sessions that appear to have no connection.  Experiencing condensed sessions of such variety usually stir up my creative juices and give me a month's work!

Dianne Allen KIAMA, NSW

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