Can you summarise your ‘findings’ in *three* sentences?

In a comment on earlier post in this series discussing potential viva questions, Martina asked me the above question, prompting to me to go a step further than the original post. As you can see in my response and in that post, should the examiners ask me some variant of this, I’ll be as uncomfortable as I was when writing summary sections in my thesis. I can see why it’s necessary; there are a variety of audiences that need to be satisfied and it’s unlikely the space afforded by a thesis will always be available. Other than in a monograph, it’s inevitable that I’ll need to be more economical , whether for a journal article, conference presentation or poster session. So despite my reservations about reducing my findings to mere soundbites, I do need to take a stab at this.

Having considered different ways to set about this, one way forward might be to think what would I most want people to take away from my research? And here I’m thinking more about my ‘findings’ than other contributions to knowledge.

  • Twitter PD  is characterised by personalisation, autonomy and choice, where participants can decide and are in control of what they undertake, when they are involved (and for how long), where they participate and with whom.
  • The nonhuman actors contribute significantly to the above by: enabling portability and ease of access; forging connections; filtering, concentrating and amplifying activity and content.
  • Twitter acts as a platform and a hub with activity spreading out through (and drawing in from) blogs, wikis, Storify, Dropbox, offline meetups and classrooms
  • Activity is characterised by exchange and reciprocity, sometimes between two individuals, but more often by contributing to the common good.
  • Participation is enabled at different levels of intensity, from a click, to founding and sustaining a community/movement.
  • Twitter PD involves activity which might not have been otherwise possible, thereby extending the repertoire of activities which contribute towards professional development – ResearchEd etc etc.
  • There is a noticeable affective strand to TPD, where the personal and professional blur as friendships form within a relaxed, safe, supportive and trusting atmosphere.

That’s clearly more than ‘three,’ but here’s my thinking. I’ve placed them in a notional (and distinctly subjective) order of importance based on that earlier question ‘what would I most want people to take away?’ If asked for one sentence it would the first in the list, and so on depending on how many sentences I was asked for. I should also add that the first three in the list quite rightly respond to each of my three research questions.

One might also reasonably ask, why these particular takeaways and not others? The answer is a combination of factors. Firstly, in each of the (first three) responses I’ve tried to squeeze in an accumulation of several factors, rather than just the one – is that cheating? Secondly, I’ve tried to emphasise those characteristics of TPD which haven’t appeared in previous research. Finally, these are the characteristics which emerged across different data sources, although I should of course stress I’m not attempting some form of triangulatory argument here, simply that different people in different fora have made similar claims.

What do you think? Are they surprising? Expected? Mundane?


One thought on “Can you summarise your ‘findings’ in *three* sentences?

  1. Hi Ian
    Two thoughts:
    1. Your statement 1 seems very much in line with existing research about teachers’ Twitter-based PD (see for example Marcia & Garcia, 2018). So maybe you want to spell out the specific contributions your research makes to these issues, which you have described in your answer to the question “What is your thesis” in you blog post about your mock viva?
    2. Since you are using a socio-material approach, it might be a good idea to combine statements 1 and 2 to one, instead of keeping them separate?
    As usual just trying to be helpful. 😉


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