Epistemologies of Scholar-Practitioner Approaches

A Reflective Paper

HOD753A – Epistemologies of Scholar-Practitioner Approaches

Marie Farrell, Faculty Assessor

Luann D. Fortune

Submitted January 24, 2008

Fielding Graduate University
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

SITUATING MYSELF

COURSE OVERVIEW & MATERIALS

MY SCHOLARLY CONTEXT

THE INTENSIVE

IRB

The Process

CULTURES:

Positivism

Interpretive Social Science (ISS)

Constructionism

Radicalized Discourses:

Critical Race Theory

Ethnic Studies

Feminism

Queer Theory

Post-Modernism

CULTURE AS METHOD

Ethnography

Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Case Study, Interviewing & Participant Observation

CONCLUSION: MY MOMENT

 INTRODUCTION

In an early scene in the film, Sliding Doors (Pollack, 1998), Gwyneth Paltrow narrowly slips through closing subway car doors, and rides into a life full of change, strife, and meaning. In a technique permitted by the medium, at the same instance she misses the door opening by seconds and plays out a different life story. Thus begins the parallel plots of this romance, where the viewer is allowed to experience two versions of the character’s life as it develops in increasingly divergent projectiles.

I can relate to the Sliding Doors metaphor at this moment in my academic career. But unlike Paltrow’s oblivious character, I appreciate that the doorway I cross will inform my scholarly journey. I am a new doctoral student examining my epistemological positioning in my work. I recently completed the course work for Epistemologies of Scholar-Practitioner Approaches (753A) and participated in the intensive workshop with Marie Farrell at the 2007 Fall Research and Practice (RaP) Session. The course examines how social science scholars establish their investigations, both conceptually and methodologically. This excellent intensive helped me consider how my story could play out different ways.

How I align my intellectual sensibilities at this critical moment is a broad question. My selection of a program, my mentors, teachers, and course work reflect those choices. They are important, and will influence how others, and most importantly, how I view my work. Also, my philosophy, or epistemology, will impact my selection of what is important to know, my ontology, and the research questions that follow. My foundational worldview will ideally direct my research methods, and my ability to influence thinking and create relevant knowledge.

The process has already begun despite the weightiness of these considerations. I have selected a program, a topic that preceded it, a mentor, and I have commenced my work. These elements are each intrinsically linked to a leading Culture of Inquiry (Bentz & Sharpiro, 1998). The opportune placement of my 753A course, early in my Fielding adventure, allows me to understand the underlying basis for different perspectives and considering the ways they can influence my expression. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the course material and consider my choices.

This paper is arranged, consistent with Dr. Farrell’s presentation framework (Farrell, 2007, Table of Contents), to consider my context as well as the course content. I first provide an overview of the process and materials and situate myself in the examination. I then take a closer look at the specific cultures and methods. Here, I expand on a technique used most effectively in the workshop: the use of film to demonstrate the use of perspectives. I found this vehicle enhanced my understanding of both theory and application. I conclude with a brief discussion of how I can situate my future work.

SITUATING MYSELF

The timing of this course was well placed synergistically. After my New Student Orientation (NSO) and Learning Plan (LP) work in September, I immediately began an online Doctoral Competencies Seminar (DOCS). This valuable course touched on various elements of scholarly practice, and addressed the periphery of underlying epistemologies. Advantageously, 753A picked up where some of that course work left off. I launched into an online Human Development and Consciousness (HOD702) course in late September. One reading was an overview by Goldhaber (2002) who suggests a paradigm for considering schools that study human development. This contributed to my fluency in epistemological language, and introduced some of the approaches that 753A covers in greater depth.

COURSE OVERVIEW & MATERIALS

I began receiving emails and access to a Felix forum for 753A postings after completing my contract with Dr. Farrell in early September. I needed every bit of the six weeks allotted for preparation. The final forum count yielded 35 postings. Additional articles were accessible online. I went through three printer ink jets and over a ream of paper creating a binder of the hardcopies. Dr. Farrell also provided templates for making flash cards that I assembled and studied for the promised Jeopardy-like quiz. I obtained and read the required texts, which provided different approaches to the topic. All of these materials continue to be useful reference sources.

Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (Neuman, 2006) is useful for its predictable format and completeness. Neuman tends to lump approaches into either quantitative or qualitative, and focuses more on execution than underlying paradigms. The chapters on quantitative measurement and analysis are helpful for general reference. This text spoke in language and constructs I recalled from my undergraduate days. It is a good foundational textbook.

The Landscape of Qualitative Research: Theories and Issues (Denizen & Lincoln, 1998) is a collection of essays on interpretive approaches to social science. These consider underlying philosophies and methods in historical, ethical, and political context as different “moments” (ibid, p. 407). This book portrays a discipline with many rooms, all still under development.

Mindful Inquiry in Social Science Research (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998) presents discussions, rather than explanations. The authors identify nine principal “Cultures of Inquiry” (ibid, p. 9) as Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Critical Social Science and Critical Theory, Ethnography, Quantitative and Behavioral science, Historical Research, Theoretical Research, Action Research, and Evaluation Research (ibid, p. 93). They reach beyond method execution and consider underlying meaning in the adoption of different approaches. They also provide practical suggestions on matching method with the topic and researcher sensibilities.

In addition to books and articles, Dr. Farrell provided her own notes and a bound Power point presentation. These have been especially useful in stimulating recall for the preparation of this paper.

Finally, before the three-day intensive session, I prepared for several experiential assignments. I viewed the film Capote (Barron, et. al, 2005), listened to a segment of the Jefferson Hour (2007), and assembled memorabilia from a particular Culture of Inquiry. I chose to represent “The Other” (Denizen, 1998) of the American Plains Indian, specifically the Blackfeet Tribe. I know several of the course participants, so I was able to share thoughts and insights ahead of time, as well as the ride to and from Baltimore.

MY SCHOLARLY CONTEXT

It is a bit of an exaggeration to claim that I have a personal scholarly context. I am just starting in this doctoral program. I undertook the program because I felt compelled to pursue academic investigation about the massage therapy clinical work I have done for the past 15 years. My vocational sphere’s conversations usually involve experiential knowledge. Although there is a current movement to seek evidence to support massage therapy, that work is happening primarily through research in medical or psychotherapy models. Yet, I am convinced that a human development interdisciplinary approach will best serve my desire to better understand what I do, observe, and teach.

I took up massage after an earlier career in for-profit business. My massage therapy training was in a vocational training program where I later joined the faculty. Although demanding in many ways, massage school is not scholarly. My last scholarly program was as an undergraduate about 30 years ago. I finished my B.A. work at SFSU with a degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science. I had excellent teachers there and completed some rewarding fieldwork for my undergraduate thesis.

My first two college years were at the University of Chicago, in the School of Human Development. I collected qualitative data for an up and coming associate professor while completing my traditional common core requirements. For many weeks, I scanned children’s picture books, line by line, counting the number of incidences of active and passive verbs according to whether the subject was male or female. I received very little training for this task and no supervision, and quickly came to suspect my own accuracies. I expressed this to my professor, and he admonished me for inappropriately challenging his authority. Thus, I returned to my task. The data was eventually compiled, analyzed, and published. The professor is well known today and regarded in his field.

I recollected this experience as I prepared for the Intensive. I realized that I harbor an unexplored suspicion towards data collection and manipulation. I intellectually appreciate the value of empirical research. Practically, I acknowledge that the prevailing Western perspective considers it necessary to call it a pursuit of science. But a part of me remains convinced that quantitative data carries a shadow of an inexperienced collegiate guessing if Spot is a boy or a girl.

THE INTENSIVE

Overall, this Intensive experience helped me grow academically in subject and in perspective. Dr. Farrell’s knowledge, energy, and talent as an instructor and facilitator are largely responsible. Her multi-dimensional approaches harnessed all of my different learning styles, and triangulated with both sides of my brain and limbic system. Through her Intensive, I learned in several days what would have taken me months on my own. However, overcoming my first learning hurdle was a matter of scheduling chance. It occurred when Katrina Rogers spoke on the first day about the Institutional Review Board.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB)

My pre-intensive questionable associations with data charting stirred up some ethical reflections on the research process. Ironically, one of our first segments focused on research ethics and the IRB process. I realized during Dr. Rogers’ presentation that Social Science had come a long way in 30 years. This presentation re-oriented my prejudices concerning data collection and imparted important practical information.

In 1974, when I was counting boys, girls, and their action verbs, the National Research Act created the National Commission on Protection of Human Subjects. Back then, one of my other research assistant tasks involved administering IQ tests to day care attendees. Again, I felt ill trained and poorly equipped, and regretted the loosely structured involvement of very young children. Thanks to IRB, that should not happen today. It is still possible to do shoddy research. However, it is more likely that someone is watching.

The Intensive Process

The course reading materials and preparations were rich and dense, and I found myself befuddled by the time I commenced the Intensive workshop. However, Dr. Farrell’s stimulating approach and clear style quickly helped to clear my mental fog and establish confidence. As an ice breaker, we gathered in a circle and together sang I can’t say goodbye to you (Hobbs, 1978) to an old Helen Reddy recording. I was invited to fall in love, presumably with some epistemology in the room. I wanted to counter sing, I’m not at all in love (Adler & Ross, 1954). But I noticed that my brain fog had cleared.

Over the three days, I became increasingly clear and conversant in the subject matter. I learned and laughed my way through our Quiz Show enactment, participated in an Imagery Study as both subject and researcher, and re-made the film Capote (Barron, 2005) in the image of another epistemology. We worked in small groups experientially, and collectively through Dr. Farrell’s comprehensive presentations. I made a mini-presentation from the view of “The Other” as an American Indian, as we followed along the historical “moments” (Denizen & Lincoln, 1998) of research cultures. I tried to understand the content and meaning of each approach, wondering all the time how it applied to me.

In the group presentation, we traced scholarly thinking in Western history beginning in the Middle Ages. We observed acceleration in evolution and diversity in approaches as we progressed to today. Some of my confusion resulted from the readings, where definitions and categories varied depending on the source (Farrell, 2007). The essence of each began to solidify as we discussed major thinkers of each moment and its schools.

Writing about the cultures brings me further along in understanding their nature and applications. Also, I returned to a technique we used during the Intensive. Modern academia is experiencing a cross-over between the social sciences and the arts, where techniques in one discipline are migrating into the other to expand perspectives. I found this apparent in our dissection of the film Capote (Barron, 2005). I sought out representative films for each culture to gain further clarity for this paper. Allowing myself to dwell in the film, I attempted to capture the lived experience projected in the approach.

CULTURES

Positivism

Positivism, also known as Empiricism, Behavioralism, and Naturalism is based on a philosophy that truth can be revealed, that causation renders effect, and that all things can be measured (Goldhaber, 2000). This culture is the foundation of most natural science, and until recently, most social science. Its purpose is to discover and document the universal natural laws (Farrell, 2007f). It demands exact, objective procedures, usually steeped in quantitative method.

Since the parlance of Positivism is entrenched in modern Western culture, I found philosophical examples prolific in the motion picture world: from stories of conflict, where the truth is revealed in the final act; to love stories, where the real meaning is illuminated to the lovers; to sagas that convey a cultural value or message. One especially long and masterful epic is the Lord of the Rings (Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003) trilogy. It tells the story of the fantastic Hobbit characters who, with the help of a cast of heroes, elves, and a wizard, thwart the Lord of Evil and his ring of power. Their saga portrays discovering the truth that the ring is the cause of the uprising of evil, forging the path to its destruction, and drumming up the requisite courage and determination for salvation. When I noted Frodo’s lament to Sam, “What’s the use?” and the latter replies, “That there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for!”, I realized I might be co-mingling Positivism with its ancestral roots in The Enlightenment (Farrell, 2007f).

I looked for a film that would feature quantitative research, and cause and effect, pursuant to the plot resolution. I came across an unlikely candidate in the comedy, My Cousin Vinnie (Launer, 1992), the story of two hapless young men on a road trip who are wrongly accused of a small town murder. During a pivotal courtroom scene, the bumbling lawyer Vinnie tries to vindicate his cousin. The key defense witness reduces the crime scene evidence to a series of automobile specifications and measurements. The truth is revealed, proving that the accused is innocent. It also demonstrates that Positivism can be funny.

Interpretive Social Science (ISS)

Although Neuman (2000) lumps together all qualitative methodology, Bentz and Shapiro (1998) provide a more unique treatment of each category. There are differences and debates among researchers on key assumptions (Agger-Gupta, 2007). I admit that the distinctions got blurry for me, and the film analysis helped clarify different viewpoints.

Phenomenology

At the core of Phenomenology is a desire to holistically describe an aspect of human experience (Wojnar, D. M., Swanson, K. M., 2007). These researchers are more concerned with investigating the essence of a thing or experience, than predicting or controlling an event. They look for meaning in the individual as well as the collective and historical context by describing lived experience of the subjects and the observers.

The film Sophie’s Choice (Barish, 1982) tells the life story of the main character, a Polish immigrant, through the eyes of a young would-be writer, Stingo. Sophie’s past is revealed through progressively more intimate conversations and interactions. History is intertwined with the contemporary story of Sophie and her obsessive lover, Nathan. As the plot unfolds and penetrates into the depth of Sophie’s secret, Stingo moves from observer to participant in the tragic conclusion.

The role of Stingo as ethnographer also illustrates how the culture of Phenomenology can accommodate various methods. This introduces a practical distinction between a Culture of Inquiry and a Method of Inquiry. Although a Positivist Culture demands conformation with empirical method, the cultures of ISS accommodate crossovers and mixtures of research methods. For some Phenomenologists, this prompted a development into its cousin Phenomenography, a methodology that employs a more analytic perspective to researching human experience (Richardson, 1999).

Hermeneutics

Another culture of ISS is Hermeneutics. As an epistemology, it strives not only to unfold meaning through progressively deeper investigation, but also to articulate and understand the conditions and context that surround the studied experience. Hermeneutics is also a methodology, which can be employed separately. The method originated in the humanities in the study of biblical text. It examines written words, conversations, or pictures to arrive at embedded meaning. In the earlier example of Lord of the Ring (Jackson, 2001), the ring’s power is revealed in the words inscribed on its inner surface and explained in the ancient texts found in the wizard’s library.

A film that combines both Hermeneutic philosophy and method is Possession (Weinstein, 2002). It spirals deeper into meaning and researcher involvement through formal examination of written text. The story follows two competing scholars as they investigate letters of two 19th Century poets. The scholars fall into a parallel spiral of romance and intrigue as they unveil a clandestine affair between their subjects.

Social Constructionism/CMM

Social Constructionism is founded on the antithesis of Positivism. Instead of reality being external, waiting to be discovered, it supposes that reality is constructed through social interaction (Denizin & Lincoln, 1998). Research focuses on the collective construction of meaning, through language and social structures. An epistemological relation, Constructivism, focuses on individual meaning making through thought (ibid) that is revealed through interpretation.

One film so perfectly captures the subjectivity of truth and the individual construction of reality that is has become an adjective for the phenomenon. Rashomon (Minoura, 1950) portrays the same brutal act, a rape and subsequent murder, through four separate narrations. Hence, the viewer receives four different interpretations, and is left to construct their own truth about the facts of the event.

A type of Social Constructionism, the Coordinated Management of Meaning, (CMM) includes the work of Fielding’s own Dr. Barnett Pearce. It focuses on communication with the understanding that individuals construct their social reality based on their interaction and their language. We listened to an audio interview (Farrell, 2007b) with Dr. Pearce on his topic in our Intensive workshop. Intrigued, but not satisfied that I had obtained sufficient grasp of his concepts, I took a subsequent seminar co-hosted by Dr. Pearce at Winter Session. He summarized foundational elements in his philosophy by two tenets: 1) Each person has their own individual story, and 2) Meaning is created by the reflexivity between people. It is the tension that occurs in the process of reconciling the former through the latter that defines our humanism (Pearce, 2008).

I found this approach portrayed in the film Being There (Braunsberg, et. al, 1979). The simple-minded gardener, Chance, is put out on the street after the death of his benefactor. He proceeds to become famous for his insight and wisdom as people construct their own meaning from his simple words. Chance, now Chauncie, says “If the roots are deep, there will be growth in the spring”. Instead of gardening advice, his financial and political maven audiences hear predictions about domestic economic cycles. The story unfolds poignantly and humorously to demonstrate an extreme disconnect between one man’s story and how it receives and resonates amongst others in their own context.

Critical Social Science (CSS)

With a Positivist slant, CSS believes that social reality is external, waiting to be discovered (Farrell, 2007a, p. 2). However, individuals are constricted:  by their social, historical and cultural context, and, the material content of their daily lives. These cultures investigate with an activist orientation and from perspectives of marginalized populations. Its intention is to reveal underlying structures and conflict to enable individual empowerment. It is the home for Critical Race Theory (CRT), Ethnicity Studies, Feminist Studies, and Queer Theory. Other versions of this construct are Dialectical Materialism, Class analysis, Structuralism, and Realism. All versions argue that race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual categorizations are social constructions.

Critical Race Theory (CRT)

In 1903, W. E. B. Dubois introduced the concept of “double consciousness” (Farrell, 2007) to describe the life experience of the African American. In the 1970s, CRT emerged as a scholarly response to perceived stagnant racial reform in the U.S. Proposing that racism is inherent in American culture, the purpose is to expose racism in all of its manifestations (Farrell, 2007c). Some aligned scholars assert that their approach is not just about racism but the very nature of reality.

I considered films that projected this approach and thought of the work of director Spike Lee, such as his biographical account of Malcolm X. Then, one evening while discussing my new film hobby around my dinner table, my middle school daughter suggested I see the “classic” Guess who’s coming to dinner (Kramer, 1967). So I did (again). This film is almost an historic document by today’s standards. It occurs in a not-so distant time when racial prejudices ran closer to the surface, and norms of behavior were more rigid. It is today recognized as a landmark work in revealing deep-seated injustices held by reasonable, even “liberal” (ibid) people. Over the 108 minutes while I dwelled in this film, I came to appreciate that the design elements of CSS are dictated by its context. So is the effectiveness of the work as a change medium. When John (Sidney Poitier) tells his father “You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man. Only when you and your generation are dead and gone will you be off our backs!” (ibid), I marveled on the progress of the past 40 years, the distance still remaining, and the likelihood that this film helped bridge the gap. It inspired a respect for all those who work for change, and a deeper appreciation of CRT and its potential as a change agent.

Radicalized Discourses & Ethnic Studies

This approach intends to challenge Western-centric prevailing structures that are fundamentally skewed to inequality and injustice. This is broader in subject scope than CRT. Populations addressed here include American-Asian, Hispanic, and Native American. Although I found films that portrayed these groups, most neglected the radical criticism inherent in this scholarly approach. Through more of a Phenomenological view, I played mah-jongg with Chinese Americans in the Joy Luck Club (Stone, 1993), sang with New York Hispanics in West Side story (Wise, 1961), and listened to the Lakota language in Dances with wolves (Costner, 1990). The exercise revealed to me that CSS is more than research with minorities.

Feminism

Feminist Studies grew out of the 1960’s woman’s movement that claimed Positivist research was conducted exclusively from a male point of view (Farrell, 2007d). The Feminist Studies culture says that gender dictates a fundamentally different life experience. It reaches beyond simply studying a female population. This culture is flexible in choosing research techniques and advocates a feminist criticism (ibid). Inversely, expansion of the culture parallels increased research from other perspectives with female populations, such as quantitative medical research. Feminist Studies and research on female subjects is not identical.

In applying this distinction to films, I found the movie A League of their own (Abbott, 2003), to be a Positivist oriented worldview of women engaged in the traditionally male job of playing professional baseball. It did not demonstrate social construction of reality as defined by gender roles. This message I found in Meshkini’s The day I became a woman (2000). This Iranian film describes oppression through three consecutive stories of women at different life stages: childhood (Hava), youth (Ahoo), and old age (Hoora). In these three narratives, Hava is forced to take the veil on her ninth birthday, Ahoo’s husband divorces her and her tribe punishes her when she refuses to give up a bicycle race, and Hoora literally sails off into the sea with newly acquired household appliances she never enjoyed in her life. Hoora’s story reflects the Feminist Studies value of emancipating its subjects and “making their voices heard” (Farrell, 2007d).

Queer Theory

Queer Theory and Queer Studies focus on “sexual categorization processes and their deconstruction” (Farrell, 2007e). Like Feminist Studies, this culture evolved from the 1960’s social liberation movement, but reaches beyond simply studying homosexual populations or behavior. Practitioners make the distinction between studying homosexuality (a biological phenomenon), studying gays (a personal experience), studying queers (social deviations), and studying society from a queer perspective (Farrell, 2007e). The last of these involves examining the nature of deviation, particularly from a Social Constructionist standpoint.

In searching for films that engaged these different perspectives, I found a separate section in my local video store that brokered films portraying homosexual erotica (mostly male) and psychological perspective. A more mainstream popular version of the personal male experience is depicted in Brokeback Mountain (Ossana, 2005). This tells the tragic story of two closeted gay cowboys and their life-long repressed and socially unacceptable relationship. In Capote (Barron, 2005) the viewer sees the creative power of a peculiar viewpoint through the title character’s investigation and writing of his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Intrinsic to his insightful genius is Capote’s deviant perspective on society.

Post-Modernism

Most Western scholarly thought assumes that knowledge is accumulated over history, and that what is known can be foundational to what is to be learned. Many approaches further assume that patterns or relationships are inherent and can be discovered. Post-modernists disagree, and instead assume that existing research perspectives and methods are invalid. Post-Modern Research rejects conventional documentation as well, preferring expression in alternate forms, such as art or theatre.

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film, Koyaanisqatsi, is titled after a Hopi word meaning “life out of balance” (Reggio, 1983). It also means:  “crazy life”, “life in turmoil”, “life disintegrating”, and “a state of life that calls for another way of living” (ibid). The film is wordless except for the intermittent chanting of the single word of its title. It is visually a collage of video clips choreographed into increasingly frantic and disturbing rhythms. The double-time footage conveys, through images of industrial de-humanization and ultimate destruction, a message of a planet out of control. The film culminates in slow-motion images that invoke intimate humanism, reminiscent of realized despair. It closes with several Hopi prophecies, including “if we dig precious things from the ground, we will invite disaster” (ibid). The creators’ intention seems to be to shock and evoke the viewer into a paradigm shift, presumably before it is too late.

CULTURE AS METHOD

In considering more Social Science epistemologies, I found several defined by the methods they employed. Ethnography, epitomized by early anthropologists, requires the researcher to imbed himself in his subject’s foreign setting in order to better understand how groups function. Focus can be on behavior or beliefs, but the initial research model asked the observer to remain objective, detached from “The Other” (Farrell, 2007). Evolving from the Traditional Period of ISS research (ibid), and stemming from a Positivist approach to anthropology, the researcher spends many hours in participant observation and direct contact fieldwork to determine how specific populations live. This approach is demonstrated in many contemporary documentary films, such as the BCC’s Planet Earth series (Allen, et. al., 2007). In Field Research, the extensive observation notes are coded and analyzed, in various ways. Other direct contact methods include Case Study and Interviewing, although they can be used to a more subjective end.

Grounded Theory is similarly rooted in field research and interviewing. The goal is to determine a core central theme (Trochim, 2006) by asking a complex series of generative questions and pursuing emerging links. This approach is presented in the work of Mike Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 (2004), the critical film about the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Taking field research one further step is Participatory Action Research (PAR). The practitioners of this method find relevance only when it is concurrently applied to solve a practical problem during the research project. One such example in film is Super Size Me (Spurlock, 2004), where the filmmaker not only interviews experts but also makes himself the subject of a dietary experiment. By feeding only on McDonald’s take out food for 30 days, it is questionable whether he primarily solves an existing problem or creates one for himself (a diet related medical emergency). In either case, Spurlock brings critical attention to the problem of American nutritional deficit related to fast food eating.

Finally, two other self-explanatory methods covered in this course are Historical Research, or Historiography, and Theoretical Research. Dr. Farrell used Historiography by systematically presenting the various Cultures of Inquiry evolving through periods of Western Civilization. Theoretical Research evaluates the logical structure of existing theories and text towards the development of new theory (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 144). It often crosses over into Historical Research and Hermeneutic method.

CONCLUSION: MY MOMENT

My 753A experience demonstrated the valuable place in my learning plan for intensives. I see how much more I can gain from a structured engagement in a group setting, especially with faculty well matched to my interests and learning style. As a result, I intend to include intensives in executing my Learning Plan whenever possible.

What has this course and this paper taught me about my personal epistemology? I pondered this for weeks now. Disappointed that I did not fall in love as Dr. Farrell beckoned (Hobbs, 1978), I also hear the clock ticking. I am afraid of commitment to one worldview, fearing it will block out insights and valuable conclusions best accessible through another perspective. But I need to consider my productivity. Although the choices do not always demand monogamy, they almost always preclude some options. So, I need to give it my best shot and make a pick.

I am interpretive, as demonstrated in this paper. I find the greatest meaning in my world through the stories, not the facts. That makes me well matched to phenomenology. My expansion of meaning through the text of films demonstrates an affinity to hermeneutic method. Because I believe that language constructs personal reality and I admire the role a change agent, Social Constructionism and CMM might be my venue. But with my topic in the area of somatics, studying body based experience through text or language poses some interesting challenges. I need to evaluate the potential value of empirical data since my topic partially resides in the scientific community. Thus, I see that selecting a culture and a method needs to match the question and the audience as much as the researcher.

At the risk of being an opportunist, I plan to be a Mixer. It makes sense to use a variety of approaches in order to generate the greatest impact with my research. I will likely include an element of empirical research, and work to achieve triangulation through observation and interpretation. This is hardly radical, often used in research, and can carry generative potential, in life as in art.

Like Paltrow, my train has left the station, but it is still traveling. The doors I select will define how my story unfolds. However, I am left to wonder if the route might dictate the plot, but as in Sliding Doors, all will be reconciled in the end.

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