Standing on the shoulders of giants

As the first two courses in my MALAT program at Royal Roads come to a close and I look back over the past two months, I am amazed at the individuals that came together to form the cohort of which I’m a part. What each individual has given me to take away is astounding. Unfortunately, it cannot be summed up in 300 words or less, so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy…

Marlas Kuiper has provided me with a better understanding of phenomenology. I would never have connected poetry with phenomenology if I hadn’t read her blog. “Not unlike the poet, the phenomenologist…infuses us, permeates us, infects us, touches us, stirs us, exercises a formative effect” (van Manen, as quoted in Kuiper, 2016).

Another colleague, Jim Stauffer, also contributed to my understanding of phenomenology by analyzing the work of John Griffin, author of Black Like Me. Jim used Griffin’s work to provide a very clear example of phenomenological research, concluding that, “…Griffin’s practice of entering and returning from the world of the subject he studied has framed my initial understanding of the limits of Phenomenology” (2016, Aug. 14).

Reading Colin Craig’s blog and the infographic he shared in class has also given me a greater understanding of specific cultures of inquiry. Colin has the ability to paint an image that is clear and relevant. For example, in his blog he tells us that, “If action research were the force, I’d surely be a Jedi” (2016, July 14).

Yet another colleague, Brian Lorraine, has helped me to better understand research by connecting how we view the word research and specific cultures of inquiry. With a carefully constructed twist, Brian shows how “re-search” relates to hermeneutics and “re: search” relates to phenomenology (2016, Aug 5).

Mary Snobelen has the ability to not only use common life experiences, but also humour to explain the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. It takes a lot of talent to incorporate humour into a dry topic like research in such a way that it makes sense and is relevant to the topic. “…there is a valid and important place for both Quantitative and Qualitative Research. … Which is great if you don’t know whether or not you want a refill” (2016, Aug. 9).

As a Masters student, I will be conducting a lot of research and, regardless of how strong or how much support I have for my argument, I must acknowledge both sides. Rhonda Darbyson provides a good example of this technique in her blog in which she addresses the issues of copyright infringement, preserving integrity, and accessibility. She leaves me pondering, “Where do we draw the line?” (2016, Aug. 1).

Satish Kotha also provides a good example of both sides of an argument. In pointing out the benefits and consequences of seeking knowledge using the Internet, he reminds me of the responsibility I have as a scholar and a learner, advising that “a critical evaluation of the text we are accessing as well as producing is necessary” (2016, Aug 7).

Other colleagues, such as Patricia Larose, help me to understand theoretical frameworks by providing a simple metaphor. In her blog, Patricia explains that theoretical frameworks are the blueprints for the research. “The framework is the underpinning, the base of which your research (house) is built” (2016, Aug. 1).

My colleagues have also helped me to understand the different learning theories introduced in class. For example, Kim Forgay provides a clear and concise explanation of constructivism. The examples she provides in her blog of how she uses this theory in her classroom solidifies my understanding of it. “…technology resources, such as Seesaw, allows them to construct meaning on an even deeper level by extending the learning and sharing it with others” (2016, July 15).

After reading Kristi Thomas’s blog, I now have a better understanding of scholarly communities. The relevancy of her examples helps me to understand how different scholarly communities form. And she provides some guidelines as to how I can find my own scholarly community, reassuring me that, “Before you know it, you’ll be immersed in one” (2016, Aug. 5).

And if it weren’t for Stephany Castilla, I would not have recognized how our cohort has created our own community of practice. She points out that we are sharing our knowledge through the various assignments. She identifies the attitude that is making this cohort so powerful, “We share a passion for our subject matter and want to learn how to do it better” (2016, Aug. 9).

In her blog, Deb Peros has effectively outlined the process involved in working together as a team. She identified the important headings of “concern”, “why this concern?”, “team dynamics”, “cultures of inquiry decision”, “presentation”, “my take away”, and provided a very brief summary of each step (2016, July 26). This was a very challenging aspect of my residency, and I will need her step-by-step analysis for future group work.

Michelle Johnson not only summarized the Community of Inquiry Model, but she also showed how each of the key features – social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence – applied to her experience in this program. By reading her blog, I, too, am able to “take what I knew, layer on what others had shared, and make new meaning” (2016, July 31).

Kerri very nicely relates what she has learned to her work. Her blog helps me to understand how important it is to take time to reflect on my learning and how important it is that I use my learning in my work. “We implement these [processes and programs at work] with a foundation of assumptions/standards that don’t ever get discussed” (2016, Aug. 8).

Perhaps Darlene Bakker sums it best with her short blog on rabbit holes, a term given to the practice of jumping from one research topic to another in the quest to understand scholarly topics. Many of the questions she outlines in her blog have been discussed amongst the cohort over the past month, leaving a lot of us, including myself, doubtful of our abilities. Reassuring me, Darlene leaves me with practical instructions, “Trust the process. The rest should take care of itself” (2016, Aug. 7).



Bakker, D. (2016, Aug. 7). Rabbit holes and how much trouble can I get into? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Castilla, S. (2016, Aug. 9). Scholarly journals – Following the yellow brick road. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Craig, C. (2016, July 14). How do I situate myself in research? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Darbyson, R. (2016, Aug. 1). LRNT 502 – Unit 4 – Critical Analysis. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Forgay, K. (2016, July 15). Thumbs up constructivism. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Johnson, M. (2016, July 31). Royal Roads research panel. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Kerri, M. (2016, Aug 8). LRNT 502: Tying it all together. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from, S. (2016, Aug. 7). Muse on critical analysis. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Kuiper, M. (2016, July 27). Phenom-a-wha? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Larose, P. (2016, Aug. 1). Theoretical frameworks and how I see them. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Lorraine, B. (2016, Aug. 5). ‘Re-search’ or ‘Re: search’? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Peros, D. (2016, July 26). A reflection of my first “in person” cohort assignment. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Snobelen, M. (2016, Aug 9). Descartes walkes into a bar… . [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Stauffer, J. (2016, July 14). Terminology and meaning II – What you’re saying is not what I’m feeling. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, K. (2016, Aug. 5). How I see scholarly communities. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from


  1. It is amazing to note how many of us felt inadequate to be here only one short month ago. This is a great collection of what we each have to offer, and a clear validation that we not only all deserve to be here, but also that we all have reason to be here and add value to the group.

    1. That is so true, Rhonda. Every single one of us has contributed to making this cohort very strong. It is going to be amazing to see what we will look like at the end!

  2. I am also amazed. This cohort is incredible. I can’t believe how many commented about feeling like an “imposter” – they they didn’t know anything. This group is one of the most brilliant groups of people I have been around! I’m truly in awe.

  3. Truly brilliant Martha! It is an amazing coalescence of all our thoughts in one place.
    Time and again I am constantly awed by how each member of our cohort bring their attitudes, skills, and knowledge to the table to share. Thank you for the contribution. Namaste 🙂

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