International Research Methods Summer School at MIC

International Research Methods Summer School at MIC

Pictured above: Prof. Jim Deegan, Head of Graduate School, MIC; Professor Norman Denzin and Prof. Teresa O’Doherty, Dean of Education pictured at IRMSS 2015.

An Awakening Noble Call for Researchers

International Research Methods Summer School at MIC

Professor Norman Denzin, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and one of the world’s foremost authorities on qualitative research and cultural criticism, led a barnstorming troop of faculty and student actors through a highly entertaining and provocative ethno-drama at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) recently when he delivered his keynote address entitled Turning Evidence into Impact in personal, Professional and Public Contexts at the 5th annual International Research Methods Summer School at MIC (IRMSS) on June 5th & 6th, organised by the Research & Graduate School, MIC.

According to Prof. Jim Deegan, Head of Graduate School, MIC; “this ethno-drama was a layered piece of dramaturgical devices with lots of furtive movements, unpredictable appearances, entrances and exits, hisses and boos and a heaping helping of discursive “posts”, “isms” and “ists” from the last quarter century, layered with social science critiques from sociology, anthropology, politics and literature”.

International Research Methods Summer School at MIC

Dr. Gerard Downes & Dr. Rebecca Breen, MIC Research & Graduate School pictured with Professor Norman Denzin at IRMSS 2015. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

Prof. Deegan expanded to say it was all about elephants or alternatively “variables of social analysis” which are seldom heard, let alone seen in contemporary debates and controversies about research. The unruly choruses took enthusiastically to their bawling, barking, and belting with primal shouts of “Data is dead!” “Who killed data? “Who cares? There were spectral voices everywhere. “Jurgen Habermas was there”. “Patti Lather was there”. “Pierre Bourdieu was there”.

Prof. Denzin’s key note speech was, according to Prof. Deegan “reminiscent of a welcome and welcoming noble call. The performance ended at the edge of the stage. Not the edge where qualitative research ends. Not the edge where quantitative research begins. Not some arbitrary and convenient half-way house between qualitative and quantitative research. Not in the incommensurability of qualitative and quantitative research. But where the edges of qualitative and qualitative traditions and discourses could potentially begin conversation-building about a new paradigm of educational research. The din of battle and the sulphur of the paradigm wars was no longer hanging in the ether.”

Speaking after the event Prof. Deegan said; “Here was an invitation and a call to stop talking past each other and get down to the business of talking with each other. It was an illuminative moment, perhaps even a seminal one in the emergence of a new paradigm. It was a privilege to be there with the narrator, actors, luminaires, and the broader social gathering. I believe it will serve as a potent and unifying episteme in the hearts and minds of the audience for a long time to come”.

Over the course of the weekend five keynote presentation and more than twenty conference papers were presented on topics diverse as; Thematic analysis of extra-curricular portfolios; Performance-centred teaching and learning; Troublesome knowledge in practice education; Mapping as a method of managing research; andKnowledge production and practice in urban regeneration. Key note speakers at the event included Prof. Alice Sullivan, Head of the Department of Quantitative Social Science at University College London (UCL) Institute of Education; whose paper was entitled Achieving Impact with Longitudinal Data; Prof. Emer Smyth, Research Professor and Head of the Social Research Division at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI); who talked about Reforming Second-level Education: Evidence and Policy; and highlighted the value of listening to students themselves in policy development; Prof. Paul Conway, Dept of Education and Professional Studies, University of Limerick; with his paper Qualifying’ evidence and its relationship to impact in education: beneficial knowledge and less absolute claims? and Prof. Ruth Leitch, Professor of Education and Director of Research in the School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast, whose keynote was a critical self-narrative of being an educational researcher over time using the metaphor of ‘transgressing limits’ to explore her fractured sense of identity.

Also speaking at the event was Prof. Teresa O’Doherty, Dean of Education, MIC, who said “By hosting this Summer School, we are meeting the goals we set for ourselves in our doctoral education and research strategy and planning and I hope that this Conference will help to create lasting research partnerships and enhance the connectivity of communities of practice locally, regionally, nationally and internationally”.

Concluding she thanked Prof. Deegan for his vision and commitment to graduate education.

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