Summary and Notes – EGS Meeting (March 12th)

This week’s notes were compiled by Jessica Perronour lab group coordinator.

A big thank you to all who participated in our fourth Education Graduate Student meeting, we had six in-person attendees and one Skyping in.

This week’s article was facilitated by Robin Potts and focused on the use of a conversational method in research involving Aboriginal populations. Our meeting unfolded into a rich discussion encompassing several underlying topics, including: the sensitivity of conversations involving residential schools and intergenerational effects; the importance of allowing the story of others to be told; and the benefits of using a collaborative process between researcher and participant. Further, several benefits of the conversational approach were thoroughly examined, such as giving voice, understanding context, respect for culture, and the importance of being prepared when working with vulnerable populations.

In addition to discussing the importance of this article and of the conversational method, several questions were raised:

  • What subjectivities (often referred to as biases) are present when you identify yourself within your research? Does all research involve bias? (The short and long answer: YES, even if you’ve controlled a range of variables.)
  • How does reducing the predetermined parameters of the conversational method benefit research findings?
  • Is our focus on the limitations of a study related to the Western perspective and to a more quantitative/empirical paradigm? Why is less attention given to successes?

After the article facilitation and discussion, our focus shifted towards issues surrounding the difficulties that teachers may face when trying to motivate and engage students, especially in the upper-grades. Several perceived issues of our current education system came to light. These include: a lack of student choice, teaching to the test, and the first-step-fallacy (students have difficulty when they are given learning choices due to the fact that these choices have typically been predetermined by teachers in the past).

The next EGS meeting will take place Thursday, March 26th, from 6-7pm (EST). We will be offering Skype again to accommodate all distance students. We hope to see you there!

For those interested in the topics of this week’s article discussion, Robin Potts recommends the following two resources:

  • Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, by Margaret Kovach.
  • Decolonizing Methodologies, by Linda Tuhiwai Smith
  • Conversational Method in Indigenous Research by Margaret Kovach (link to article)


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