Multiple Voices of Ethnographic Researcher
Abstract This chapter of the book presents the voices that emerged from the various roles of the researcher from a multidimensional perspective that facilitates the presentation of the whole, at the same time foregrounding experiences, values, world-views, rules and regulations, culture and way of life, interpersonal relations, and so on. This chapter consists of four parts. In each part, the events and findings are presented from different points of view, derived from the perspective of each one of the researcher’s roles during the research period. The first voice is that of a teacher educator, the next voice is of an ethnographic researcher, the third voice is that of the higher education faculty member and the next voice is that of a student.
Ethnographic research methodology is used in order to comprehensively analyse an empowering personal experience that includes personal and professional development and growth, in order to enrich the world of knowledge and doctrine of professional development for faculty in higher education, in compliance with teacher education. Being able to spend quite a long time in the research field enabled ethnographic research to be carried out and to determine research procedures while it was going on. Writing narratives and analysing those of participants allowed the researcher to create an ensemble of data and findings, themes, central threads and ideas, that led to generalized and generic conclusions.
Two key questions, the answers to which are interwoven throughout the book accompany this ethnographic research, and contribute to concentrated and in-depth viewing of the research and its output. The questions were structured in such a way as to make it possible to get a complete and comprehensive picture both of the processes undergone by an ethnographic researcher, and the general structuring of findings emerging from the research into an overall arrangement of basic insights and directions of work in the research area.
© The Author(s) 2017
L. Shagrir, Journey to Ethnographic Research, SpringerBriefs in Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47112-9_3
Regarding steps taken by ethnographic researchers, the key focus question was:
How does ethnographic research serve as a milestone in the professional development of
First and foremost, ethnographic research obligates researchers to professionalize in employing a specific methodology. A Longitudinal study conducted in a research environment that is foreign to researchers is a rare opportunity that very few have. Such opportunities present professional challenges with which researchers have to deal such as the demands of wide ranging research—constructing research layout, establishing collaborative links and trust with professional colleagues, gathering data from a wealth of sources in order to get comprehensive information, carrying out analysis of all this data, and building an infrastructure of generic conclusions.
Once research has been completed, researchers possess rich and unique information that they will use to add to and develop their professionalism. Research output will serve them to weave wisdom and insights in a variety of academic publications such as: writing and publishing articles, chapters in books and books, making presentations at international academic conferences to fellow researchers and students, and more. All these promote researchers as experts in their research areas and allow them to continue to develop through collaborations for research purposes.
As stated, the answer to this question is interwoven in all the following sections of the book.
Regarding formulating the findings to general basic insights that are likely to serve as working directions in education teachers, the key question was:
How does ethnography serve as a means of structuring the world of knowledge in the
studied area, and in this study - that of the profession of teacher education?
Residing in a research field allows researchers to fulfill a number of roles, as revealed by the voices presented in the following chapters. In one’s daily work, routine lives, it is difficult to view things as they are perceived by various informants who fulfill roles in the researched environment. Longitudinal research that includes residing in a studied institution or society enables seeing things through the workings of others, and especially those who have a central role in the area of teacher education. The voice of a teacher educator teaches about the quality of educational programs, lecturers’ points of view, institutional rules and procedures and more. The student’s voice allows seeing teacher education from the other side, in the eyes of customers who come to get an education and profession. The student’s voice teaches about how lessons are managed from their perspective, about how they react and relate both to lecturers and learned subjects, about informal conversations and how they relate to their place as students, and more.
Researchers interested in getting to know various samples of teacher education learn through lectures, reading articles and other narratives, or interviews. None of these is as valuable as being within an institution and being involved in rich campus life. All these allow one to learn, by comparison, similar and unique components.
However, it is known that teacher education programs are structured according to professional perceptions, social and contextual professional needs, and according to place and society. Nonetheless, focusing on the differences between various models, using the ethnographic research tool, allows one to identify uniform foundations, to recognize the language of professional terms and concepts, identify similar goals and add to and structure foundations on which teacher education be what it may will be based.
This chapter of the book has four parts. In each part, events and findings are presented from a different point of view, derived from the perspectives of each one of my roles during the research period. Portraying matters using the voice of each role enables their examination from a unique perspective, and getting a broad and in-depth picture of the research population, the research processes and its results. This type of multi-dimensional viewing enables presentation of a whole while emphasizing experiences, impressions, values, world views, regulations and procedures, culture and lifestyle, interpersonal relationship, personal relationships and more.
- • The first voice is that with which I started this journey as a teacher educator. With two decades experience as a teacher educator, who had spent many years leading teacher educators’ professional development in Israel as head of the MOFET Institute (national inter-collegial center for research and development of programs in teacher education and teaching in colleges1), the first aim of the research was to learn about the world of teacher education in the host country. The research constituted an opportunity to examine the modus operandi of another teacher education system and to get to know the characteristics of those professionals who lead it—my teacher educator colleagues.
- • The next voice is that of an ethnographic researcher. The research design and constructing its aims and questions were completed prior to leaving for the research field. Being in the research period for a protracted time and the facilities made available to me as a researcher allowed me to undertake ethnographic research in accordance with the rules of this genre, using a variety of research tools.
- • The third voice is that of a higher education person. The research population included members of the faculty members at Peabody College of Education. As an experienced researcher of the professional work of teacher educators, I chose to examine the professional development of an American research population who are colleagues in the same profession in higher education.
- • The next voice is that of a student. When I took part in lessons as an auditing student, I was able to examine the work of teacher educators from a student’s perspective. I was able to get to know students informally and to learn how they viewed their lecturers, what they thought of them and how this was expressed in formal and informal relationships between lecturers and students.