The Interpretivist and The Learner



Publication Details

Dean, B. Amelia. (2018). The Interpretivist and The Learner. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13 1-18.


Aim/Purpose: In the time that we study for our dissertation, our learning takes many turns. Sometimes we feel excited, motivated and accomplished, while other times frustrated, tired or unsure. This paper presents a poem to illustrate one student’s PhD journey through reflection on those fluctuations, milestones and learning moments experienced along the way.

Background :Central to the journey presented here is learning about the interpretivist paradigm, its approaches, methods and critics. Interpretivism is a qualitative research approach which, in many disciplines, continues to be the positivist’s poor cousin.

Methodology: This original paper takes an autoethnographic approach, expressed through poetry. Autoethnography uses self-reflection to connect personal experience to wider social and cultural understandings and has been seldom applied to investigate and uncover the contested and emergent doctoral experience.

Contribution: Little opportunities arise during doctoral studies for the student to pause, reflect and communicate new learnings or knowledge without the boundaries of academic discursive conventions. In this way, the poetic medium of expression offers an original contribution to the field. The poem also illuminates the struggles with finding voice, an ontology that resonates, and the place that marks independence from others in becoming a researcher.

Findings: Poetry affords ideas and feelings intensity through a distinctive style and rhythm of literature. This original poem offers a creative artefact that can be useful for supervisors and students at any stage of their dissertation, to ignite conversation on the challenges of higher education study.

Recommendations for Practitioners: This paper invites others to consider their learning journey and discovery of self, to reflect on and record the milestones, tensions and catalysts of learning.

Recommendation for Researchers: It opens doors particularly for those exploring, or wanting to explore, qualitative research through an interpretivist paradigm where knowledge is socially or experientially co-constructed and the researcher is inseparable to the research.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)