Phase C—Possible Directions and Priorities

Goal

“I have teased out my vision, so as to expand my view of issues associated with the project, expose possible new directions, clarify direction and scope within the larger set of issues, and decide the most important direction.”

Background

After a couple of weeks learning about what others have written and done (Phase B), you probably have an expanded view of issues associated with your project. It may seem pressing to define a narrower topic. However, this phase works towards clarification of your direction by first expanding your view of the issues even further. (This matches Elbow's [1981] advice to alternate between creative and critical aspects of writing as well as “opening-wide, then focusing in & formulating,” a process noted in Part 4's Teaching and Learning for Reflective Practice.)

Tools and Processes

Mapping
Questions for Opening Wide and Probing
Pyramid of Questions
Ten Questions
Sense-Making contextualization applied to your whole project

Sequence

In session 4
Create a draft version of your map, prepared with the help of the Questions for Opening Wide and Probing.
Work with a peer to review your map, using the same probing questions. Consider how the map relates to your Governing Question.

Supplementary processes for opening wide or focusing and formulating: Pyramid Of Questions; Ten Questions; Sense-making contextualization applied to one's whole project; and discussion with advisor and peers (see Sharing of Work to Elicit Responses and One-on-one Session).

By session 5
Revise your draft map, working with a peer to review it using the probing questions.
Compose a revised Governing Question.
Submit the map and revised Governing Question to your advisor for review.

Follow up

In Phase D you identify areas that require further research, but do so without the visual or graphic approach that is at the heart of Mapping. You might take note of the similarities and differences between what emerges in Phases C and D in relation to the interplay of the creative—opening wider—and critical—focusing in—aspects of your thinking. Like Mapping, Phase D comes before you can complete an overall Research Design or clarify your Overall Argument.