The Road from Pilot Research to Fieldwork

About a month ago, I embarked on the second phase of my PhD journey and started my fieldwork. The pilot I carried out last summer helped me immensely in shaping up my research questions and strengthening my research instruments and my overall research design. However, it is only now, after starting my fieldwork, that the full realisation of the benefits of piloting have dawned on me.

 To give some background, my research aims to critically understand the teaching and learning for children with special educational needs and disabilities within mainstream classrooms in India. This blog post is a reflection on how my pilot research helped me in shaping my research design and helped me to plan my fieldwork.


Seeing Sacredness: Dissemination and Ceremony

I have recently returned from my doctoral fieldwork in Northern Canada. My research includes six Anishinaabe secondary school students who attend an Anishinaabe-controlled school. The students attending this school live in four different self-governing Anishinaabe communities contending with the ongoing consequences of colonization, including; displacement from tribal land, rural isolation, food scarcity, dependency on natural resources, and wide-spread environmental pollution.

“Do You See What I See?” Prompts From a Mother

I was born and raised in Peshawar, a small city in the north of Pakistan. It is heart-breaking that Peshawar once known as “the city of flowers” has been torn apart in the name of terrorism. In 2014 a blood curdling attack on a school left the city in the state of mourning that has taken a long time to fade away. The strength of the mothers who lost their children in that attack and their desire to keep sending their children to school has inspired me to do what I do today. I am a PhD researcher at the…

A Tiny Clinic for the Soul?

I visited the British Library in London a few evenings ago to listen to a talk given by Alberto Manguel, the author of The Library at Night and A History of Reading. Manguel, no stranger to poetic metaphor, described libraries as a “clinic for the soul” and spoke of learning to read as “akin to falling in love, like an epiphany or a contagion.” Listening to someone talking with passion and authority about the places and spaces where readers read is something that I treasure, partly because it is so rare to hear anyone mention the built environment in connection…

On Being an Ethnographer

I’m writing in the arid, breezy shade outside my £10 per night hotel in northeastern Uganda. This weekend I’m taking a break from PhD life. Not really. I’m actually here to interview alumnae from the secondary school where my research is based. Being an ethnographer, everyday and every moment can be a research moment.  There is taking a break, but not turning off. My master’s supervisor, Dr. David Mills, with Morton, describe on the first page of their book that ethnography is ‘being, seeing, writing.  Simple participles that belie the complexity of their meanings.’ (Mills & Morton, 2013). They write…

Finding My Research Interest

Graduate students learn very quickly how to perfect their elevator-pitch, the generally accessible, succinct description of their research. It is employed at conferences, social situations in college, and even family gatherings—Aunt Muriel always seems to ask, “Remind me again what exactly it is you do?” I usually say that I look at pre-service teachers’ (i.e. students studying to become teachers) epistemology (philosophy of knowledge, knowing, and learning) and beliefs about teaching. Aunt Muriel tends to respond by inquiring, “And how exactly did you decide to do that?” My research interests grew out of my own personal background as well as…