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conference PhD research

Research plan for 2011

I’ve just been asked by one of my supervisors for my research goals for 2011. This will include my own work, as well as planning how our undergraduate and Masters students’ work might feed into some of the bigger projects. The first goal I have for 2011 is to submit 2 articles based on my first PhD objective. I’d planned on sending these off at the end of 2010, but never managed to finish them in time. They’re almost done now, and I’m hoping to submit them before lectures begin in a few weeks.

In order to plan my research activities for 2010, I created a chart to help me visualise the different activities I’d be involved in (see below). I completed most of the tasks, although not necessarily exactly as I’d initially planned them. Looking back at the process I went through in 2010, it’s clear that things don’t always work out the way you planned them and that that isn’t always a bad thing. I ran out of time at the end of the year, and didn’t get to complete everything I’d wanted to. Now I have the dilemma of trying to decide if I still want to do them, and run the risk of biasing the results e.g. realising that students may not have great recall of certain events.

First PhD objective

I’ve created a similar chart for my 2011 progress, and tried to incorporate the results of the 2010 research I conducted, showing how they feed into my second PhD objective. This includes a review of the undergraduate curriculum using document analysis, and a Delphi study of physiotherapy educators to plan a blended learning intervention for one (or several) undergraduate modules. The original plan was to identify one module and then develop it using a blended learning approach but now we’re considering the possibility of working with a few, although this isn’t reflected in the diagram below.

I still need to figure out how I’m going to incorporate input from my 4th year research group, as well as the 3 Masters students I’m supervising this year. I can’t really see how they’ll fit in, so I might need to start a few additional projects (Edit 13/01/11: I changed the diagram above to show the 4th year project and one MSc contribution to my study). I find preparing charts like this useful to organise my thoughts around the process. I often struggle to see details but am OK with picturing the overall structure. When I create a flowchart like this, it forces me to think about the specific steps I’m going to need to take to move forward, as well as how all the pieces fit together.

In addition to the research, I also hope to present at 4 international, and 2 local conferences:

  • International Association for Medical Education
  • Education in a Changing Environment
  • Personal Learning Environments
  • World Physical Therapy Congress
  • South African Association for Health Educators
  • Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa

I’ve committed to convert each conference presentation into a publication, so hopefully that’ll grease the wheels for funding from the university. It seems like quite a full programme, but since my teaching load has been reduced for this year, I think it’s doable.

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.