Category Archives: Essays

Reliability and Validity

I started a post in the middle of May about how things had become increasingly hectic, I got two sentences in and then possibly got distracted by something else! Since April 8th I have been the University of Leicester’s Richard III Outreach Officer and it has been a massive learning curve and amazing experience so far. That isn’t what I want to write about though!

I have read Henry VII: The Winter King by Thomas Penn in the past. I enjoyed the book and the fact that there were references and evidence for the facts that were being explained. Correct or not, there was proof or at least the evidence behind suppositions. I was comfortable with the details I was reading. It was in black and white and explained clearly.

The other day I watched the tv programme in the BBC’s Tudor History season that was presented by the author himself and covered may of the facts about Henry VII from the book. However, some of them were wrong. I didn’t remember them from the book and I then found myself doubting many of the facts being delivered during the show.

So, after having a think about why I was doubting I realised it was the medium of instruction. I am more willing to believe something that is written down that I can see the references and evidence than a tv show. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It does make me doubt the news and other documentaries. What hasn’t helped with that situation was being told by one of the University’s academics that one of the documentaries I watched and was quite happy to accept the facts from wasn’t incredibly accurate and the academic who was presenting wasn’t well regarded in their field. I am not sure if this was bitterness at seeing someone in the same field on tv or if it was entirely true. The problem is, without my researching the whole subject myself, even I don’t know who is right and wrong in these cases! So I think I will stick to books and articles for my literature review and research, mainly because I can compare and criticise based on my own knowledge and reasoned research.

This nearly turned into a post about validity and reliability in research findings, but that may come later. So far I have completed a number of interviews for my dissertation, I have a few more in the pipeline and have data on three museums out of five or six so I am almost there on the data front. I have a lot of reading completed as well, but seem to be getting stuck into a topic and then finding more exciting information on it for more reading and I am not getting much writing done. I am hoping this will all come out in the wash as 5,500 words out of 30,000 isn’t very many at the moment!

I might even blog about my job soon too, well, the bits I can blog about now. The rest will have to wait!

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October

So October was busy! It all started on 30th September (I know, this isn’t October). I volunteered to help at the opening of the Big Draw Campaign at the V&A. I couldn’t resist, my pseudo sister-in-law had volunteered and when I expressed my jealousy she called me out and just told me to volunteer. I took her advice and had an amazing day. I didn’t realise that The Big Draw was happening before that, or that it was such a big draw (hahaha!). I spent my morning standing in the front entrance of the V&A handing out paper, pencils and information and my afternoon encouraging people to add their doodles to one of the large templates of the museum. I met some wonderful people and will definitely be looking at what we can do in Leicester next year and how I can get involved again.
http://www.campaignfordrawing.org/bigdraw/
That was just one day though, I also had a deadline for my final MRes essay on quantitative methodology. I cannot say that I found this topic easy. I also had the distinction for my previous essay hanging over me. I needed to make sure this essay was as good. Looking back I am not sure it is at all; I tried to read around the subject, look at it from different angles and make sure I was finding some good case studies. I am not even sure I can say that I did my best as the subject matter was dry and formulaic. I kept being draw to how exciting some of the qualitative methods had been and how interesting the case studies were. I just have to hope that I got the point of it all and managed to explain it clearly and concisely. I don’t want a fail on my record!
Along with that, I had a blog post to write, not for here, but somewhere else. If it gets published I will link it all in. I have had my first experience of having something sent back for amendments. Luckily I had been prepared for this by some of my colleagues, so it wasn’t a shock and I didn’t see it as a sign of weakness! I hope that this will help me get more things published in the future. It all helps towards that PhD goal.
Along with these things I had organised an event for the end of the month. This year has not been easy events-wise and it was needed to sort a few things out on going. I think it was enjoyed by all the participants.
That’s my quick October update. I have since written and submitted my research proposal for my MRes dissertation. I am fully expecting some questions about this. My ideas seemed amazing earlier in the year, but putting fingers to keyboard to get it on paper seemed so difficult! Again I hope I managed to explain my question, methods and objectives sufficiently to get approval and get going. Or at least get some feedback on how to improve on it! Since that has been submitted, I am now “study-free” until 23rd November, barring any emails about submitted work.
As I am not able to switch off at the best of times I have learnt about American Revolutionary history (through the medium of Assassin Creed 3), more about the Tudors (by reading Winter King) and more about Raphael (by going to a lecture hosted by the University). I am feeling quite full of facts at the moment!

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Filed under Essays, Museums

Back in the swing of it and the distance learning debate

Apologies for the gap in posting. I spent the last week concentrating on finishing my essay on visual methodololgy and then decided to have a little break from studying before the next module. I was also quite aware that my last posting was a big topic and I felt a little like I have to top that in this one. I don’t think that will happen straight away though.

My essay was successfully submitted on time, after some double checking, proof reading and amending.  I can’t say how well I did but I hope that all the work I put into it will pay off.  I have been told that my next module will not be arriving until next week so I can enjoy the sun while it is here!  I also took advantage of a couple of days off work and going to Alton Towers and Twycross Zoo.  It was like a mini summer holiday.

There is currently a debate going on here, it isn’t a big world changing debate but it is relevant to this blog in a way.  I deal with campus based master’s students in my line of work.  For the most part they are full time students committed to their programme.  I also have a few part-time students who have to juggle other responsibilites with their studies.  They are not afforded any special treatement when it comes to deadlines, but I will say that I spend a little more time with them when they choose their modules and structure their timetable.  This works well, it means that they can manage their time and there are no issues with their timetables clashing with their other commitments.   I am myself a distance learning student, and there is some conversation going on about distance learning students needing to be handled differently to campus based students to take into account their responsibilites outside of the course.   This is mainly in relation to flexibilty with deadlines due to many distance learning students working full time (this is a generalisation rather than the majority).  I don’t feel like I have been given any more flexibility on either of my distance learning programmes in this way, which is not a bad thing.  I also disagree that distance learning students should be treated any differently.  When you sign up for the programme, you make a commitment and I feel that you are expected to meet that as best you can.  The whole point of the distance learning programmes are that you have more time to complete the work and coursework compared to campus based students, which is how you can fit it in around your daily workload.    Distance learning should not be an easy option compared to campus based learning, or it will be devalued.  It should be an alternative way of completing a course when there isn’t an option to study on campus.

Anyway, that’s my two-pence.

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Renewed enthusiasm

So, after my previous down hearted post, I can say that I have been hit with renewed enthusiasm.  I had a day of procrastination and am now back on board.  Saturday was a right off, I faffed and watched tv, although I think I needed that day.

Yesterday, I got a little more done.  I do feel like I have enough material to put together the essay and I am up to 2800 words (out of 5000).  It is making it all flow and sound academic now.  I have a plan to get it finished before the weekend, which I don’t think is too ambitious.

 

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Feeling Detached

Last night I settled in for a reading/making notes session.  I do this fairly regularly during the week, especially on nights when the lads are playing a tabletop roleplay game downstairs.  I made myself comfy and began to read one of the many articles I have earmarked for my current essay.  I got to the third page, I had made a couple of notes about the piece which seemed useful.  Then, it struck me that the images I was looking at I had seen before, in fact the article was so useful I had found this draft copy of it and was in the middle of reading it for a second time!  *sigh*  I then picked up the next article, only to find that it wasn’t relevant.
I did eventually get to reading something whcih was helpful, but it took some doing.

In light of what happened last night, today I am feeling a bit detached from it all.  I want to write a good essay, not be borderline or satisfactory, a good essay (or even an excellent one).  Not only that, I want to be in the middle of what is going on research-wise and I keep seeing Twitter posts about exciting things happening eslewhere and I feel like I am missing out.  I am sure it will pass.  At the moment I am quite aware that this deadline is looming…10 days to go.

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