When the scientific method does not work as well…

What follows below is a personal reflection entry, a memo, as one of the required submissions for my first class on qualitative methods. Short as the memo is, the reflection made quite clear that if i wished to develop an inquiry about learning and enhancing a drive for it (engagement and motivation), it will revolve around people. And people can not be so simplistically measured (both a point of interest as well as frustration)

My Personal Perspective

To put things in context, let me begin with a brief recount of my academic experience. My undergraduate degree is a bachelor of science in architecture. My masters degree is in building science with a focus on technology and structures. I have been teaching architecture design and technology courses since 1993 (since 2009 in Georgia). Any forays into research has always been enframed in a setting that observed proofs and deduced patterns from them. The simplistic structure of cause-effect logic has been the driving idea in exploring aspects through simple experimental methods. I recognize and appreciate logic that works in this manner, and thus engage in discussions with colleague with this working viewpoint – if things work in this way, what can we introduce to make it work that way? There is a foresighting mechanism that operates as I think. This would be evidence of a practice of generalization and extrapolation.

Suitable as this approach may be with bridges, and lighting, and even acoustics, I find that it is only partially effective in drawing connections between test results and, say, perceptions of aesthetics. In fact, time and again, I have found that understanding human aspects of measurable performance and linking those with satisfaction or fulfillment is a much messier affair. Yet these are the more authentic qualities that people connect to. If I am to question what I am doing experimental setups for, I would always conclude that it is ultimately for contributing to a better standard of living, or as Hostetler (2005) writes in his article, “good” research that associates the purpose of an inquiry to the idea of human well-being.

Human relations are so disorganized and chaotic that they rarely conform to the clinical clarity of a controllable experiment. They muddle my preferred brand of the scientific method. And so I am facing the question : how good can good scientific-style research findings be if its contributions to well-being are hard to define (well-being itself being not so clear cut)? Better yet, I must also ask myself what adjustments or shifts of view must I consider expanding to so that inquiry may be better aligned with being a factor towards human wellness? It seems inevitable that I should learn more about how people define their standards of a good or fulfilling life before I would be able to think of credible yardsticks against which to evaluate.

In terms of an educational research topic, the question would revolve around the dissonances or disconnections between studio and the classroom. My interest would be to find out why engagement and motivation in design studio ranks quite high despite the long hours, the ill-defined structure of tasks, and the self-punishment of fatigue, all in the name of creativity. Contrast this scenario to that of the technology class, where the content is more clearly defined, the hours and structure are much better organized, and the exercises and tasks much better apportioned, yet the engagement and motivation levels are generally fair or mediocre. What is going on, indeed? Finding out more about this contrast must be my obvious priority before I begin to even dare conjure up an intervention.


~ by bdytoc on February 24, 2013.

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