It seems that when I am in the throws of writing chapters, I neglect taking the important time to stop, think, and post some meaningful thoughts.
Over a month ago, I had the opportunity to present at McGill University at an inquiry conference. It was an exciting experience to be at a D-I research institution again. I fondly remember my experiences working in a bacterial genetics lab at UConn and the culture associated with that environment. I haven’t seen that in about 12 years. However, it came flooding back when I was at McGill – the physical rooms, the discussion with professors and other students – being part of an intellectual culture was a great experience. My WestConn experience is just as important, but for different reasons – primarily that of being surrounded by actual experienced big-time practitioners. That’s where I belong – and those conversations are so different. I guess I am being nostalgic about my former life in research.
Now a bit about the experience. . . .
When I presented Dr. Mark Aulls questioned one of my significant findings: the differences between novel and technical projects. I had classified them based on a schema, but his very valid question was “But how do you really know this to be true.” I gave a situated cognition – community of practice answer – which I think really fits well, but his point is important. I don’t know if we would have picked up on this if I hadn’t had this experience.
So what to do?? I called Bob and got some CSF data regarding scoring forwarded to me. ISEF has no such data set. Too bad. Anyway a nice set of 2-way ANOVAs demonstrated that there is no significant difference in the TOTAL scoring between technical and novel top project or biological or physical categories. OK.
Now for the interesting part. There is a creativity subscore. There is a significant difference between novel and technical projects (novel higher) but not via category. The creativity is recognized in the novel project scores. So this answers Mark’s question – how do I know – well there’s a significant difference in score.
But the dilemma . . . this is a qualitative study, and it’s very true to the paradigm. Do I bastardize what I’ve done with a section of quantitative stats or is there another option? In comes option #2. The panel of experts. I assemble a panel of experts, have them determine the novel versus creative – do they agree with me? I have a group of natural scientists and Marcy suggests using my 092 supervisor – a former science educator. Doesn’t it always work this way? – her responses are totally off compared to the rest of the panel. I do have good cause to eliminate her data set: she’s not an expert in the natural sciences. With my experts we have 90% agreement. I can certainly live with that. All discussions about disagreements don’t convince me to change anything.
That’s how I know . . ..