Doctorate Research (EdD)

Doctorate Research

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Research Title (working title)

Crafting the Pedagogy 

What can be learned about craftsmanship and how it can then inform teaching and learning?

Keywords:   Craftsmanship, pedagogy, practice, space, tools


As technology improves convenience and comfort of teaching and learning, there are questions on how craftsmanship is affected in higher education. As a craftsman of film editing, passing on my experience and knowledge is becoming more difficult with these technology changes.

When proposing the research question: Can we learn anything pedagogically from the craft of editing, the journey of exploring and understanding the craft and challenges for teaching began. Through qualitative methods of video interviews and visual observations, an action research plan will be formed to test out the interpretations of the participants. These include editors, lecturers and students of editing in higher education. Those different interpretations are the main focus of this research and after sufficient investigating and analysis may allow for new understandings of teaching the craft and how it is consumed in the lecture room. Thus far, initial findings in analysis of the digital images created in a pilot study have indicated the importance the participants put on space and tools versus the practice. An action research change in space and tools may encourage students to engage with the craft, defining how the practitioner teaches craftsmanship and bridging the gap between practice and education.

Further Research Questions:

  • Can the craftsman / educator use the idea of discipline and organisation of editing in the gathering and assimilation of knowledge?
  • How do technological advancements of tools and space, along with the ethnological concerns that students and professionals experience, impact their ability to be creative and passionate for the craft of editing?
  • Can we learn anything pedagogically from editing?
  • Does certain programming and film content stimulate or deter student’s curiosity for the craft?
  • Does the relevant skill level of the teacher impact upon the student’s ability to learn the language, ideology and culture of the craft of editing?

The approach to this study is a practice-based action research. An artifact will be produced in the form of a documentary, the contents of which will in turn provide data to form the cycle of planning for the action research in the lecture room. “Practice-based Research is an original investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice.” (Candy, 2006, p3)

Participants such as professional editors, editing students and lecturers as well as other stakeholders such as policy makers in educational institutions and industry will be sampled.

As a participant action researcher, who is also a craftsman in editing and postproduction I have a huge interest in my learning path as well as the path of my students. With the ‘insider’ prehension knowledge, I will try to marry the educational role and the professional role with in the lecture room and edit lab. My structure of accessing the students’ learning abilities’ even mirrors the types of assignments an editor may face in the early part of their career. The research will explore the learning methods I and other professional editors have undertaken and experienced in the past and will compare that data to the current cohort of students in Limerick Institute of Technology (where I lecture) as well as other third level institutions in the locality.

The assumption this researcher holds is that the students themselves will use the craft of editing as a tool for learning in the third level setting and develop a deeper understanding of the passion that can be achieved for such a craft.

Through further research and following in the work of Sennett (2008), Irwin (2010) and Mudal (1998), the bases for a practice-based action research on the pedagogy of the craft of editing will be to close the digital gap between the students, teachers and editors in the academic and industry creative environments. Improve understanding and teaching skills of craftsmanship while providing possible areas of development for policy within third level institutions for such pedagogy.

Previous literature such as ‘The Craftsman’ by Richard Sennett (2005) and Dr. Stacey Irwin’s paper ‘Murch and Metaphor’ (2010) explore the world of ‘craftsmanship’ and ‘techné’ respectively. By exploring ideas such as Curiosity, Metaphor, Resistance, Practice, Storytelling and Identity, these authors have expanded the paths of knowledge in which this researcher not only connects with on a professional level with the craft but also on a personal level through how I identify myself.

“To explore what people do when they find resistance, we might consider one of the shibboleths of engineering: follow the ‘path of least resistance’.” (Sennett, 2009, p215)

A reflection and understanding on the cause and effect of the types of resistance is essential in forming new methods of approach to teaching the craft and allowing the students to create an increased reflective curiosity. Fig.1 shows an initial diagram of the theory of Digital Distance / Digital Disassociation created by this researcher at the beginning of the doctorial journey.


Digital Distance - Disassociation 3

The practice based learning approach will mirror the style of the feature length documentary will be similar to the ‘Side By Side’ feature film (2012) directed by Christopher Kenneally. ( That film explored the changes in technology, specifically focusing on the changes filmmakers made in moving to digital from traditional film. This researchers approach would be similar in that it will explore the possible areas of knowledge and skill that have been dropped in favor of the equipment performing them and how the ethnological differences of the students affect their assumptions about editing and their ability to engage passionately with the learning of that craft. Other examples also include The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing . As a participant action researcher I will be also documenting my journey in an electronic journal, which will contain media rich content such as audio and video entries, which will in turn be reflectively analyzed and imported into the documentary along with other observational data.

Participant observation on camera may show how the editors demonstrate their connection with their craft both physically and emotionally. These demonstrations along with the in depth interviews will hopefully show evidence of the advantages gained with current technology but also the disadvantages such as skills and knowledge the craftsmen have lost through the convenience of the computer and the impact that this has on the teaching of editing and the quality of the craft in the broader industry in Ireland.

The Action Research of the project will be conducted in the lecture rooms of the third level institutions. Here the educators of the editing modules selected, will implement the plan of action, based on the data gathered from the interviews and participant observations. Collaboration with those educators will need to be established along with continued data gathering and analysis through follow up interviews and group discussions.

Through this researchers’ interpretative position, the methods that have been chosen for the research have a visual media theme running through them, reflecting the craft being studied. As the research questions challenge the knowledge, of lack of, around the area of passion for craftsman ship, identity and creativity of the participants within their field as well as the ideas of metaphor (Irwin, 2010) and resistance (Sennett, 2008) the choices of methods are as follows:

  • Interviews – for interpretative and ethnographic data collection on the participants and their relation to the field and their emotional connection to the craft and any influence it may have.
  • Visual Data Observations – for research questions relating to practice, technology, space and their influence on the participants, their created culture in the field and its value to their understanding.
  • Practice Observations – Following an action research plan in the lecture room, post interview and visual data observational analysis, the student and lecturer participants in a classroom environment will be observed in their reaction and responses to a pedagogy that will hopefully be created from the previous mentioned qualitative data.
  • Desk based Research – While continuing the qualitative methods above there will be continued research on the literature and policy on the field. There will be comparisons drawn between the field research as well as the desk base materials, analysing any previous academic and industry-based research in relation to the qualitative data gathered.

The artifact of the research, a documentary, will be formed into a narrative detailing both the practice based research and action research approaches.

“As curriculum theorist Max Van Manen notes, “Pedagogical theory has to be the theory of the unique, of the particular case. Theory of the unique starts with and from the single case, searches for the universal qualities, and returns to the single case.” (1991, p. 150). A digital editing pedagogy that follows that notion might cultivate new storytellers equipped to transform the world.” (Irwin, 2006, p10)


  • Bryman, A., 2012. Social research methods. 4th ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
  • Candy, L. (2006) Practice Based Research: A Guide. Creativity & Cognition Studios.
  • Crawford, M. B., 2010. The case for working with your hands: Or why office work is bad for us and fixing things feels good. London: Viking.
  • Freedman, K. (2003) Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and the social life of art. 1st edn. New York: Teachers’ College Press.
  • Irwin, S. O. (2014) ‘Embodied Being: Examining Tool Use in Digital Storytelling’, Tamara – Journal for CriticalOrganization Inquiry, 12(2), pp. 39–49.
  • Irwin, S. O. (2009) ‘Pedagogical Tensions: Revisioning Digital Editing in Technê’, The Journal of the Media Ecology Association, 8(3), pp. 49–62.
  • Irwin, S. (2005) ‘Technological Other/Quasi Other: Reflection on Lived Experience’, Human Studies, 28(4), pp. 453–467. doi: 10.1007/s10746-005-9002-5.
  • Irwin, S. (2010) ‘Murch And Metaphor: Reflection on Digital Editing Pedagogy’, Journal of Media Education, vol:1, pp. 5–10.
  • Mudal, S. (1998) ‘Notes of an Editing Teacher’, A Danish Journal of Film Studies, 6, pp. 41–48.
  • Murch, W. (2001) In the blink of an eye: a perspective on film editing. 20010801st edn. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press,U.S.
  • Ondaatje, M. (2002) The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. Knopf
  • Sennett, R. (2009) Craftsman (UK Edition). London: Penguin Books


Biography – Simon McGuire

With over 20 years experience in Film and Broadcast Editing, Simon teaches his craft at Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland, and is undertaking a Doctorate of Education with Bournemouth University.

  1. Stacey says:

    This looks like a super research project. I will be very interested in learning more as you progress.

    • vteditor says:

      Thanks Stacey. I have read your papers in the area and they have helped me so far in forming the research theory and methodology. Will certainly keep you up dated.

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