Thursday, 12 June 2014

Feedback welcomed on research questions #heutagogy #MOOC

Sharing some of my concerns/doubts/directions on my PhD. Feel free to provide your insights or remarks. 

After considering heutagogy as an addition to my PhD frame, and revisiting potential research questions based on the two pages shared previously and resulting comments , I would like your feedback on the next potential research questions (and dilemma’s).
The provided research questions are followed by a very brief rationale, to (hopefully) allow you to see why I am making certain choices for my research.

Central research question
How do experienced online learners manage self-determined learning when engaged in a MOOC?

Sub-questions (I want to cover: peers/people, technologies/objects, leading to learning success with my sub-questions, as I think those make up the parts of the central question).
  • ·         What (if any) are the objectives (question Inge: goals more linked to andragogy, on the other hand goals are broader than objectives) of the learners during their learning journey?
  • ·         How do adult learners reach their SDL goals? (question Inge: or should I use more enquiry driven vocabulary for this question, maybe: which personal interests guide SDL?)
  • ·         Which technologies do learners use in order to attain SDL success? (e.g. online content, objects, devices)
  • ·         Who do learners connect with to reach successful SDL?
  • ·         How do learner goals relate to learner outcomes?
  • ·         What is the MOOC delivering answers versus outside MOOC delivering answers for SDL ratio? (question Inge: not sure if this question is relevant for SDL, but I cannot dismiss it yet, as I feel there is something of interest in relation to MOOC and SDL, and successful interaction provision)

Brief overview of content that drives my choices for the research question
I have tried to share some brief content here to sketch the background of my research questions.

Central idea
Central to the whole research is the idea put forward by Hase and Kenyon (2001): “the learner decides what and how to learn”. Which brings the learner into a central position and makes the content and actions offered by any one teacher or any one institute outside of the learner secondary to what the learner wants/needs. This consideration makes me think that learning moves even more towards informal learning, as only curricula/courses/modules made by the learner her/himself would ever allow formal learning to answer the learner’s need.

Heutagogy and need for experienced learning
A next step in reformulating the central research question is based on the path moving from pedagogy, to andragogy, to heutagogy. This overview gives rise to my doubts on which vocabulary to use for my research question, as different words are used and they can have different meanings.

The overview below is provided by Lindy McKeown ( :
Columns 1 and 2 from Burns, R. (1995). The adult learner at work: a comprehensive guide to the context, psychology and methods of learning for the workplace (1st ed.). Chatswood, N.S.W: Business and Professional Publishing.Column 3 from Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2000).

This means the learner is increasingly more in control of what is learned, and particularly why they want to learn it, and which effort they are willing to put into it.

But the learner can only be in control if s/he has the capacities to do so, which brings me to potential research boundaries for this PhD. Canning (2010) shared a diagram regarding learner expertise for heutagogy. This would offer part of the basis for my decision to only use research participants that have 1 or 3 years or more online learning or social media experience

Target audience selection
The research participants will be selected on the basis of prior experience (rationale briefly mentioned above). Learners that have been using social media or have been engaged in online learning for 1 year or more (I might pull this up to 3 years, but still trying to find more data to support a more specific choice (1 year covers experience, but maybe 3 years indicates online experience having been built up that can be transferred to new learning environments or settings).

In self-determined learning, it is important that learners acquire both competencies and capabilities (Hase & Kenyon, 2000, 2007). Competency can be understood as proven ability in acquiring knowledge and skills, while capability is characterized by learner confidence in his or her competency and, as a result, the ability “to take appropriate and effective action to formulate and solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar and changing settings” (Cairns, 2000, p. 1, as cited in Gardner, Hase, Gardner, Dunn, & Carryer, 2008, p. 252). Capable people exhibit the following traits:
  • ·         self-efficacy, in knowing how to learn and continuously reflect on the learning process;
  • ·         communication and teamwork skills, working well with others and being openly communicative;
  • ·         creativity, particularly in applying competencies to new and unfamiliar situations and by being adaptable and flexible in approach;
  • ·         positive values (Hase & Kenyon, 2000; Kenyon & Hase, 2010; Gardner et al., 2007).

(the above mentioned paragraph comes from the Community of Practice Heutagogy site). But if self-determined learning acquires competency and capability, researching experienced learners and their SDL in MOOC will give insights in how other MOOC learners might guide their SDL to become more experienced learners.

Next steps
Once the research questions are chosen, I will review the used methodology and see if that needs to be adapted and I will write out the questions/instruments to be send to the ethics board.
In parallel I am writing an additional section into my literature review on heutagogy.

Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 13(1).
Canning, N. (2010). Playing with heutagogy: exploring strategies to empower mature learners in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education,34(1), 59-71.
Gardner, A., Hase, S., Gardner, G., Dunn, S.V., & Carryer, J. (2008). From competence to capability: A study of nurse practitioners in clinical practice. In Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(2), 250-258. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.206.0188.x
Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2000). From andragogy to heutagogy. In UltiBase Articles. Retrieved from
Hase, S. & Kenyon, C. (2007). Heutagogy: A child of complexity theory. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 4(1), 111-119.
Kenyon, C., & Hase, S. (2010, August). Adragogy and heutagogy in postgraduate work. In Meeting the challenges of change in postgraduate education (pp. 165-177).

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