Research Experiences and Plans

A. Self-reflective description of previous and current research activities and accomplishments

This year, I completed several courses pertaining to research methods. My content knowledge and understanding of research methods in education has expanded greatly and I was able to challenge myself by learning and doing types of new research analysis and development. One of the most important things I have learned about educational research is that research methods are a type of technology: they are tools that we use that grow, change, and in some ways are increasingly better able to tackled problems. This was somewhat of a surprise to me. For instance, I had never really thought about the fact that software packages allow us to answer questions or perform analysis that might have been otherwise impossible and that because of computing power, the field of statistics can drastically change. Likewise, I was fascinated to learn that survey designers and researchers have developed theory and methods that have maximized population randomization to such a degree that they have drastically reduced the number of individuals needed to conduct a thorough survey. This is all on top of the types of changes we might already anticipate affecting survey design such as the gradual diminished of phone land lines, or the power the web gives us to access people’s thoughts and attitudes. In my final set of courses, my goal is to continue this exploration of methods as a technology as it pertains to qualitative methods and to look at survey design from the perspective of a sociologist who specialties in surveys and the Internet. As for qualitative methods, I feel as though this has been an area where I have been consistently growing, as much of this exploration of qualitative research  has taken place in my work with Dr. Maxwell as I get a chance to closely examine concepts such as realism in qualitative research, the notions of cause and validity in qualitative research, and using qualitative research to expand our notions of culture in educational research.

I had some wonderful opportunities to collaborate with professors on science education this semester. In the fall, I worked with Dr. Annetta on grading and transcribing pre and post assessment data he had collected at his former university and here at George Mason from his pre-service teachers. The pre-service teachers used a video game called STIMULATE to learn about lab safety and classroom management. I’ve also completed an analysis on research from Dr. Peters-Burton on pre-service science teachers who left STEM careers. This opportunity stood in stark contrast to my coursework in statistics where we pushed a button and answers were generated for us by a computer. I had to spend an amazing amount of time with the data and previous research from other authors in order to eventually find the pigments with which I could paint a clear portrait. In the end, we were able to see quantifiable patterns that demonstrated strong correlations between teachers and their understanding of the nature of science as it relates to scientific pedagogy. However, I felt that the qualitative approach allowed me to create robust, meaningful, coherent codes that I genuinely think would have appeared uni-dimensional and contrived if we needed to create corresponding constructs. In other words, I’m delighted that I’ve taken all the coursework in statistics that I have taken, because it reaffirms that the types of questions, answers, and analysis I find most fruitful reside within qualitative frameworks, so long as those frameworks are relatively realist or pragmatic.

Update for November 2011: Very few updates for this section since it was written in May, earlier this year. I’ve been able to do a lot of work on thinking about my dissertation methods and approaches thanks to EDEP 821 and get wonderful feedback from Dr. Sheridan. Through my continued work as Dr. Maxwell’s graduate assistantship, I’ve begun to feel more confident in my ability to talk about certain issues in qualitative research such as validity, causation and mechanisms, and the roles theory ought to play in research and analysis.  Delving into upper-level quantitative methods and surveys has helped me further understand the nature of  epistemic differences that still seem to underlie educational research and with my work with Maxwell, I’m increasingly equipped to champion the use of mixed-methods in educational research. The role of realism continues to play an important role in my own epistemology, but given my areas of research interest, I suspect that description and existence-proofs will take precedence in my dissertation.

Sample Research Citations (with skills acquired)

Steinkuehler, C. & Chmiel, M. (2006). Fostering scientific habits of mind in the context of online play: literature review, qualitative data coding and analysis, inter-rater reliability, research writing

Squire K.D. Giovanetto, L., Chmiel, M.U., (2006). Preserving the “Grammar of Schools”: An Investigation of New- Media Use Patterns Among Pre-service Teachers: survey design, quantitative data analysis, research writing

Chmiel, M.U. (2006) When science became a Sputnik: Science Education 1943-1963: Historical research, hermeneutics, scholarly writing

Encyclopedia Entries (2010): scholarly writing, research

Maxwell, J., Chmiel, M. (2010). Rethinking the concept of “culture” in education: Scholarly writing, theory and research, social theory

Chmiel, M. (2010) Game Design Toward Scientific Literacy. Cognitive Technology, 14 (2), 32-42.: Scholarly writing, original, peer-reviewed contributions, working with journal editors

Chmiel, M., Burton-Peters, E. (2011). Just Bare-Bones Facts”: STEM Career-Switchers’ Perceptions the Role of the Nature of Science in Science Education. Paper presented at the National Association of Research in Science Teachers (NARST) Annual Conference, Orlando, FL April 3-6: qualitative analysis, inter-rater-reliability, scholarly writing, peer-reviewed presentation, scholarly collaboration, establishing conceptual frames for empirical research

B. List of competencies for which additional preparation is needed prior to beginning dissertation work.

Research design, negotiating recruitment of participants, going through the Internal Review Board Process, becoming more confident in talking about and taking stands on issues in qualitative methods in education, and a continuation of practice in various types of data analysis and scholarly writing.

Update for November 2011: Through a combination of coursework and my graduate assistantship, I’ve been able to get additional experience in all of these competencies. My survey course in sociology emphasized issues such as IRB and recruitment of participants.

C. Description of planned future research activities.

This year, I would like to submit a proposal to AERA that synthesizes the work I have been doing with Dr. Maxwell looking at the intersection of qualitative research, diversity, and culture. In addition, I am looking forward to starting some new projects looking at validity and qualitative research. I find this work fascinating but it is intimidating because writers in this area are typically experienced researchers that are very widely read. I feel fortunate to have been able to work with Dr. Maxwell on realism in qualitative research as it has been a wonderful “crash course” in numerous ideas and writers that I otherwise would have never come across.

I’ve also submitted the paper resulting from my 2010 study with Dr. Peters-Burton for consideration to a science education journal. I look forward to getting feedback on this paper and using that feedback to ultimately publish this paper in a journal.

Finally, I am finishing up my course requirements, which are just about all research methods courses. I’ve been using these opportunities to get feedback on a research design that will ultimately result in my proposal. I hope to be enrolled in a proposal class in January 2012, although I plan to begin gathering data this summer as part of my EDRS 822 course.

Update for November 2011: This semester, I have been concentrating on reviewing research about validity in qualitative research, with plans to co-author an article with Dr. Maxwell on this topic. During the forthcoming semester, we plan to work on an additional article about the role of theory in qualitative research. While our AERA submission was not accepted, I’ve  been investigating a potential opportunity to publish the work Maxwell and I have done on culture and diversity and hope to pursue this more over the coming semesters.  Likewise, my article with Dr. Peters-Burton was not accepted,however I am revising the article according to feedback and seeking other venues for publication. Finally, I would like to begin writing the proposal for my dissertation this coming spring and piloting research. I hope to spend the summer and fall of 2012 doing my research in full swing. My current goal is to defend the research by November 2012.

D. List of significant research products

Peer Reviewed Article
Peters Burton, E. E., Frazier, W., Annetta, L., Lamb, R., Cheng, R., & Chmiel, M. (2011).  Modeling Augmented Reality Games with Preservice Elementary and Secondary Science Teachers. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education.

Chmiel, M. (2010) Game Design Toward Scientific Literacy. Cognitive Technology, 14 (2), 32-42.

Peer Reviewed Conference Proceedings

Steinkuehler, C. & Chmiel, M. (2006). Fostering scientific habits of mind in the context of online play. In S.A. Barab, K.E. Hay, N.B. Songer, & D.T. Hickey (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (pp 723-729). Mahwah NJ: Erlbuam.

Chmiel, M., & Owens, T. (2006). Anti-evolution literature and its hidden pedagogical value: Confronting the creationism dilemma. In Osborne,J (Ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International History, Philosophy, and Sociology in Science Teaching Conference (pp. 50-61). Leeds, UK.

Peer Reviewed Encyclopedia Entries

Chmiel, M. (in press). Science Communities. In G. Barnett (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Networking. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chmiel, M. (in press). Poland. In G. Barnett (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Networking. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chmiel, M. (in press). Virginia. In G. Barnett (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Networking. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Peer Reviewed Conference Presentations

Chmiel, M., Norton, D. (2010). Why Can’t I Just Kill That Shark? Challenges and Considerations for Designing Science Games. Games, Learning, and Society. Madison, WI. June 11

Maxwell, J., Chmiel, M. (2010). Rethinking the concept of “culture” in education. Presented at the College of Education and Human Development Faculty Symposium. Fairfax, VA. February 1

Squire K.D. Giovanetto, L., Chmiel, M.U., (2006). Preserving the “Grammar of Schools”: An Investigation of New- Media Use Patterns Among Pre-service Teachers. Presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, CA April 12-16 .

Chmiel, M.U. (2006) When science became a Sputnik: Science Education 1943-1963. Presented at the History of Science Society Annual Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia November 4-6.

Owens, T. & Chmiel, M. (2006). Mapping the landscape of gender in science through children’s biographies of Marie Curie and Albert Einstein. Presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), San Francisco, CA April 3-6.

Squire K.D., Chmiel, M.U., Giovanetto,L., Jan, M. (2005). Media Literacy and Pre-service Teachers: Is there a negative correlation between playing video games and becoming a teacher? Presented at the International Convention of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT), Orlando, FL October 22.

Invited Presentations

Chmiel, M. (2010) Invading Species, Giant Robots, 3rd grade Algebra, and Other Classroom-Ready Curiosities. Games, Learning, and Society Conference. Madison, WI. June 12

Chmiel, M. (2010) Designing for the Classroom and the Pass-Back Effect. Games for Learning, New York, NY. May 27

Chmiel, M. (2010) Using games to communicate science. Science Blogging: Laboratory of Ideas or Contaminated Experiment? Science and Technology in Society Panel, Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond, VA February 19.

Chmel, M. (2010) Using games to communicate science (2010). Presented at Science Online in Research Triangle, NC.

Chmiel, M & Rider, S. (2007) The educative promise of digital games. Invited talk at the Teacher Advisory Group meeting. Arlington, VA July 25.