- What insights have you gained about research from taking this course? Research is something that is challenging for me on a number of levels. Going back to my undergraduate days and the Statistics class I muddled through to my frustrations with data collection for the Annual Program Report for Head Start to searching through information to develop a community assessment for a Head Start Refunding Application to interpreting child assessment and environmental rating scale data – I now realize that in a sense I have already been an active ECE researcher! This course has also brought into focus the many ethical challenges and equity challenges that face us. I think that I understand better now why there hasn’t been more research on men in ECE – the power relationships that are established in the early education field have not viewed it as an equity issue.
- In what ways have your ideas about the nature of doing research changed? I can’t say that my ideas have changed so much as I have become more sophisticated in my thinking about research. I have come to see the many obstacles that face researchers and the political factors that inform research projects. When one examines more closely the influences that are not necessarily publicly evident, it becomes clear that research is not as transparent and objective as one might expect it to be (although I have been a cynic for many, many years, I have a better understanding of the root causes for my cynicism!).
- What lessons about planning, designing, and conducting research in early childhood did you learn? Sadly, I think I have lowered my expectations for what research can do to promote the early education field. The knowledge that I have gained has resulted in closer scrutiny of research that once formed the foundation for my assertionjs that early childhood education had far reaching societal benefit. I make much more modest claims now, knowing that while I advocate for ECE, I must do so responsibly and with transparency. Furthermore, I would say that I now view the mixed methods approach as the most desirable strategy for ECE research – as it provides the objective data that is responsible while also inviting a closer examination of that soft information – values, cultures, human experience – things not easily captured by the most controlled scientific methods.
- What were some of the challenges you encountered—and in what ways did you meet them? Again, the challenges that I faced were primarily to my faith in data, my relationship with science when applied to the work that we do. What happens next will be a process for me, to evaluate my relationship with information – particularly as I attempt to reconcile statistics about men with my efforts to make the ECE field less gendered.
- What are some of the ways your perceptions of an early childhood professional have been modified as a result of this course? Based upon my reflections regarding research – I have come to a place where I want to gain a better understanding of the art of being a teacher. Understanding the art of teaching can improve my efforts to capture that information through research – or enable me to be more aware of research that captures qualitative information and not just quantitative information.
The direction that we take as a profession requires us to balance our knowledge of best practice and our knowledge of research, our understanding of the artistry of teaching with respect for objective data. An inbalance of these sacrifices an appreciation of the full picture.