Community in the Time of COVID-19: Part-Time Students’ Advice for Staying Connected to University

When I receive emails addressed to “students”, watch politicians telling us we can “beat this together” or see #LocalHeroes trending on Twitter, implicit in this language are the ideas of connection and community. I can’t remember a time when the language of togetherness, collective responsibility and community has been so prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Our physical isolation from the people and places that populate our everyday communities has prompted a re-evaluation of what it means to belong, throwing into sharp relief the processes that construct and cultivate our sense of community.

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Conquering the Home Office: Some Things to Keep in Mind

Even before we all had to start taking measures against the spread of COVID-19, I pretty much worked from home full-time. As much as I enjoy working in various libraries and cafes, it is not always feasible for me given that my research can sometimes require watching films side by side multiple times a day. It’s not really quiet work, involving things like listening to clips of scores as loud as possible to isolate instrumentation. So, I find myself for the most part working from my apartment where I have all the things I need, but sometimes, not a lot of company. Graduate work, whether masters or PhD level research work, can be an intensely isolating process that becomes especially compounded if you work primarily from home. However, after three years of building my little media-infused work bubble, I’ve come up with some things that help me maintain focus, break up the monotony and develop healthy work habits.

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The “Intimate Outsider”? Reflections on Researching Teacher Communities, by an Ex-Teacher

In 2019, I spent about nine months visiting urban secondary schools in Malaysia, spending most of my time at two schools. There, I observed and recorded teachers’ meetings, hung around in the staffroom, watched significant school events and interviewed the teachers before I left the field.
Like Sophia, I too had to prepare myself to navigate the insider-outsider tension. Like my participants, I was an English teacher and a Malaysian. Like them, I had done my first degree locally. But unlike them, I am currently a doctoral student at Cambridge, and I had also studied in Singapore, both of which, are generally perceived as markers of “eliteness.”

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Being the Insider-Outsider: Reflections from 10 years of research in the Dominican Republic

This year marks a decade of my travelling to and from the Dominican Republic, conducting research, taking classes, teaching, training teachers. ‘Tienes más tigueraje que yo,’ my Dominican friends tell me, insinuating that I have learned to acculturate and take care of myself in this country that is foreign to me. But at times I forget its foreignness. My foreignness. Since first travelling to the DR as a twenty-year-old college student I immediately felt connected to the Caribbean culture. My mom is from Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans and Dominicans refer to each other as ‘dos alas del mismo pájaro,’ two wings of the same bird.

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Perks and Potential Pitfalls of a PhD on Secondary Data

Secondary data analysis can be a great way to study relationships between constructs, particularly when large, rich, longitudinal samples are important. It supports learning of more advanced quantitative methods and software, and does not have to be used exclusively, i.e. can be used to augment primary data. As with any method there are potential pitfalls, but they can be planned for and managed.

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Reflections on Doing Educational Research in Business and Academic Contexts

If you’re interested in working as a researcher in an applied business or not-for-profit context in the future or are simply curious as to what the key distinctions are between conducting research in the two different contexts, I hope my reflections can be of use to you! I’ve whittled them down to five. These reflections are obviously based on my own personal experiences alone; I’m sure these would differ depending on the organisation you worked for and your reasons for pursuing a career in educational research.

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The Power of the Felt Tip: Drawing My Way Through the PhD Process

It can be really hard to feel like you are good at anything when doing a PhD, and so when I heard the advice to do something you are good at to keep you sane during the process, I knew mine was drawing. Having used drawing in my role as child psychologist and a conference illustrator, I wanted to use drawing in my research with Colombian children with disabilities. What I hadn’t expected was that drawing would also become central to my own journey through the process. Not only did it help me navigate the ‘should I quit my PhD?’ moment, but it also helped me clarify, and communicate, my research proposal. This blog tells my story before giving some practical steps for building your own creative talents (yes, you have them) and inspiration for how you might illustrate your final thesis.

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FERSA Oxford Exchange: Can Our Academic Life Be More Collaborative?

As one of the co-leads of this year’s FERSA Oxford Exchange, Carla Plieth is looking back to the first part of the exchange between the two Education Faculties and their theme ‘collaboration’. Many students find their graduate experience isolating and scary, which is why it’s important to use opportunities for collaboration. Being part of a student association is one such opportunity.

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