Propensity Score Methods: Working with Natural Experiments

In the natural sciences, experimentation is understood to be at the foundation of how the work of a field is conducted. However, in the social sciences, experimentation can be more difficult. Instead of working with lasers or minerals or lab rats, we work with human beings situated in their worlds. The idea of conducting a scientific experiment on people may seem simple, but it gets difficult quickly as we start to plan it. In order to make a strong comparison, we would need individuals who are identical on characteristics that would influence how they would respond to the experiment. This is clearly a difficult task. Continue reading

Collaboration for Research

In my previous role as a high school teacher, collaboration was relatively rare. Although I often collaborated with students, meaningful collaboration with my fellow teachers was uncommon. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I have had the opportunity to engage in numerous collaborative opportunities, most often when planning, conducting, and reporting on research. In this post, I explore models, benefits, and challenges related to collaboration in this context. Continue reading

Shifting towards mixed methodologies

Through my lived experiences I have interfaced with the construct of “research” in a number of different ways. Through directed and casual reading, conducting research projects with various levels of formality, and writing to both summarize and report on research, my conceptualization of the construct has changed and evolved. Similarly, my worldview has broadened and shifted. My ontological and epistemological perspectives continue to be shifting and context dependent. Over the past few months I have engaged with mixed methodology in my coursework and in one strand of my research. This methodology is well suited for my current way of thinking as it “encourages the use of multiple worldviews” (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 13). To unpack how I have emerged at this point, in this post I describe my interactions with worldviews and “research” before my current program of study, briefly consider my development as a student and research fellow at the University of Vermont, and ponder my current questions about mixed methodology. Continue reading