Roslyn, Long Island
Roslyn, Long Island at my father in-law’s house. No relevance to this post except this is the context where I thought about writing it.

Research Questions

I am in the process of translating documents and lining up participants for my pilot study for my PhD, which will begin in earnest in September after I return to Seoul. If there are others out there who are starting to line up their own studies, I thought it might be useful to share what I am doing in terms of methodology. My data collection corresponds directly to my research questions, so perhaps it is best to put those out there first. They are very basic as it was my belief that the data collected would generate more questions; for the time being, it seemed prudent to keep them relatively broad.

  1. How do faculty and graduate students in higher education in the Humanities in South Korea use mobile technology to support their learning practices?
  2. What work is being produced in mobile technology in Korean higher education in the Humanities?
  3. What is the nature of participation for graduate students in the Humanities in higher education in Korea?

So I went out searching for methods for getting at these questions, methods that collected the data I needed and remained respectful of the Korean context. Since I was driving towards mobile media, namely how these graduate students might use mobile technology for disciplinary effect and how that effect might be multimodal composition, I decided I needed a mobile media-rooted methodology.

Mobile media models

So I needed data points that revolved around the cultural and disciplinary practices of coming to know through mobile technology specifically in the Korean context. I reviewed as many methodologies as possible (listing a few of my sources at the end of this post here) and realized that anything I used had to ascribe to the following:

I stumbled across Galloway (2013), which helped identify a few of the pitfalls here.  I am listing these as questions below:

I am not doing an ethnography as such nor am I doing a design project (not at this stage anyway), but the questions are valid. By introducing these concepts to these participants, merely by framing the questions, I am enacting their futures. Ie, what I will be recording will not be existing practice, but rather imagined practice. My methods in the next section will illustrate this more clearly. I am baiting the hook a bit, but that appears to be unavoidable. I will just need to be transparent about how my presence (and my questions) irrevocably changes the dynamic of how they use mobile technology to make meaning in their disciplines.


I chose three different data collection techniques and I will expand on these a bit in subsequent posts, but here is what I settled on.

Narrative Interviews- Since the research questions focus on graduate student participation in the Humanities, formally or informally, it will be important to construct the narrative of what that participation looks like and the oscillations that occur within this context between formal and informal practices, and individualized and socialized activities with high and low transactional distances (Park, 2011).

One concern I have over the use of the narrative approach is the Korean cultural context, namely how the authority imbued in the interviewer/research and interviewee/student relationship will affect responses or possibly stunt the construction of individual narratives. This interview data will be triangulated with other methods of data collection (artifact analysis and mobile media use), but it is important to establish an appropriate context for these interviews to take place, one where the graduate student feels empowered to establish their narrative. One such method for empowering graduate student participants would be to use peers as interviewers; the peer interview approach has been useful in particular circumstances where complexity might otherwise stunt an authority/teacher-led discussion (Hamilton, 1996). For the purposes of this research, the pilot project will employ such a method where a graduate student enrolled in a formal program of translation (part of the Humanities in the Korean higher education structure) will act as the interviewer, thereby allowing a peer dynamic to emerge during the course of the narrative interviews. I as researcher will be present to ask follow-up questions (and establish myself as a presence). This peer dynamic will, ideally, lead to a degree of authenticity which helps elicit the autobiographical-self, how the participant wants to position themselves in terms of their use of mobile technology and their participation in the Humanities (Riessman, 2008).

Multimodal Artifact Analysis
Participants will be asked to make available an artifact (media or otherwise) created in mobile technology to support disciplinary participation. This artifact can be mobile media, a textual composition, a dialogue-based activity, a collaboration, or otherwise. These artifacts will be collected and analyzed to answer the research question on what is being produced in mobile technology in the Humanities and what these compositions/productions might be classified as (informal, formal, individualized, socialized, high/low transactional distance evoking Park, 2011). These artifacts will be analyzed to indicate what practices are made visible through their production; further, the Task Model will reviewed to see if these artifacts represents tasks and whether this Task Model approach has merit for revealing disciplinary practices. For the purposes of the pilot, participants will be asked to make available one artifact for analysis. These submitted artifacts will be used to frame the subsequent reflective exercises outlined in the following section.

This is where I am baiting the hook a bit. I would ideally like to receive two artifacts, one created in the past and one created at the end of this research project, but some of this won’t emerge until the interviews.

Participation Self-Reflection
Further to these narrative interviews and immediately following the artifact submission, there will be reflections conducted at intervals during the research process by the participating graduate students. These reflections will be requested from the participating graduate students in whatever medium is convenient to their current practices (social media, textual, or otherwise) and will attempt to gauge graduate engagement in the Humanities and the use of mobile technology to mediate that engagements. The reflections will be prompts (provided by me) asking them to reflect on particular aspects of their participation in their discipline, how they use mobile technology, and how they created their media artifact.


Some of the sources I am using here include:

Roslyn, Long Island
More of Roslyn, Long Island


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