Bald spots, blank spots and curly questions: Navigating the tricky terrain of applied research

Mark Leather and Allen Hill

This interactive workshop is predicated on creating a relaxed and generative space for all people interested in outdoor education research and related areas to engage in useful dialogue and wrestle with puzzling conundrums. If you are a practitioner with an interest in research, a Master’s or PhD candidate, an emerging researcher still with plenty of energy, or an experienced researcher with stories to share from the trenches, this workshop is for you!

Neither Mark nor Allen are research gurus – far from it in fact. But they are driven by a curiosity and desire to never settle for the way that things have always been done. Both Mark and Allen see research as key to advancing practice. In order for outdoor education and related fields to continue to develop, research must be a key part of the conversation.

The workshop will be based around a series of inquiry questions to prompt our shared conversation and dialogue. We recommend you think about these questions in advance.

  • What is research?
  • Why should we bother?
  • What research questions are worth asking?
    • e. How do we distinguish bald spots (topics that are over-researched) and blank spots (topics that are under-researched)?
    • What questions can we answer … and which ones are difficult to answer?
  • How do we do research?
  • How do we deal with theory and methodology in outdoor related research?
  • Does research really have to influence practice . . . and do practitioners really need to take notice of research?
  • How do we navigate the research-practice interface/nexus?
  • It is easy to start a Masters or PhD, but sometimes it’s hard to finish. . . What are some key strategies for PhD / Master’s thesis completion?
  • How do I know when my thesis or article is good enough to submit?

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