When you are doing your own research, it's more personal. You study a topic for the love of that topic. You choose your research because it's what interests you the most. For several years before starting on this Fulbright journey, my biggest area of interest has been professional development. I have always enjoyed creating professional development for my colleagues and similarly, I love learning more about my field. I always wondered: what is the best method to deliver professional development in a way that the participants will be engaged and able to implement what they have learned? How can professional development be tailored to a professional's self-identified needs? How does that translate to actual practice in the workplace? And how, exactly, do you go about measuring all of that?
Based on my own experiences as a learner and as a facilitator of professional development activities, I hypothesized that professionals are more invested in professional development that is tailored to their needs and that small group, discussion based learning is most effective. I came into this process already believing that I knew the answer. And that, I think, is a problem, or at least something that I need to consider very carefully.
In discussing professional development with some teachers here, I focused on their comments that supported my belief. "We don't like large meetings. They're useless." "I prefer working in a small group. The other teachers are more approachable and can relate to what actually happens in my classroom."
Of course, these comments seemed to support my original hypothesis, BUT they aren't the full story, and they're not necessarily representative of the whole.
I write this tonight to remind myself to actively search for the whole picture, not just the part that I was hoping to see.
Any researchers out there have advice on how to keep your own personal beliefs from affecting the lens in which you view your work? Let me know in the comments below!