I’m drowning in information!

There is a big difference between finding a lot of information and having appropriate ways to organise the information, so that it may be readily synthesised into coherent new understandings. Likewise, data generation is one thing, but having a repertoire of ways to arrange it, so as to reveal trends is a most vital aspect of researching. And having a structured approach to research processes can greatly assist addressing research questons or problems.

The forth facet of research on the RSD framework is: Organises information and data, and manages research processes

Information may be organised in notes, mind maps, explosion charts, and data recorded in logs, spreadsheets and various digital devices. Discipline appropriate ways are used to represent information and data as reports, essays, other prose, with charts, tables, graphs and diagrams, the organisation of which is also determined by the communication medium. On top of the complexities of organising appropriate combinations of these, and ordering coherenty the items, the whole research process needs to be managed within time, resource and knowledge constraints. It is no surpise then that this facet stands out as the one that is least likely to be developed by students, according to our research so far. For example, in year-later interviews, very few students noted that their organising skills had improved, whereas numerous other skills were explicitly noted as having improved.

One of the implications of this is that students need more modelling, structure and guidance to be able to develop organising and managing skills. It also suggests that there may be a need, in terms of the affective domain, for students to be motivated, not to be haphazard or slapdash, but to develop a feel for:

Where harmonising students dont just arrange information, but desire a way to order it in discipline-appropriate ways that throw light on the phenomena under investigation. Where their attitude, egged on by curiosity and compelled by determination, would be to harmonise so as to wreak order out of appearant chaos, and to manage the research process in ways that bring the best out of people and constraints. A harmonising student is one who resonates with the same frequency as research data to see that which is otherwise hidden. As Albert Einstein admonished:

Out of clutter, find simplicity.

This is the desire to order in a way that provides a deeper understanding, a simplicity or, in some disciplines, an elegance. This is where organisation and managment are servants to understanding, where a harmonising student is able to reveal where fresh knowlwdge can be found.

Author: johnwillison

Senior Leturer, Discipline of Higher Education, School of Education, University of Adelaide.

3 thoughts on “I’m drowning in information!”

  1. Hi Sue

    Solar is a very good model. I think he may inspire a generation of dog-models! He suits best the second facet about finding: dogged.


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