Ed.D Research

Doctorate Research

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Research Title (working title)

Crafting the Andragogy

Can the culture of craftsmanship improve teaching and learning in higher education?

Keywords:   Craft,Craftsmanship, Professional Identity, Practice, Editing, 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 the culture of craftsmanship improve identity, teaching and learning in Higher Education?, 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 Additional Questions

  • How do tools and spaces in higher education impact the experience and creativity of teaching and learning a craft?

  • Can professional identity be created or influence through craft education?

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 lecturers of editing, professional editors, and editing students will be sampled.

As a participant 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. However, student engagement is still lacking and the common response from students to work outside of the lecture hours is ‘its too much effort’ and, ‘why should I do more than I was asked?’.

The experiences I had of learning the craft of editing are far from the experiences my students have today. The availability of technology and opportunities the students have are far greater at present than they ever were, yet evidence of their engagement with the technology and drive to be self-sufficient in their learning is lacking, with retention problems for the course and the educational institution evident where I lecturer.

An evolving map of the field can be seen here based on an initial literature review (which is ongoing) and observations from other media texts and visual data.

When considering the methodology for this research, it was becoming clear that there would be a need for an approach that fits into the ontological and epistemological position of this researcher while also allowing the theory to develop from the data collected.

Through the journey of this doctorate it is planned that the idea of ‘editing’ will help form a research narrative. The interpretation and presentation of the research data is a form of ‘editing’ and making choices about the andragogy and curriculum will also be a form of ‘editing’ whilst exploring learning and teaching of editing as a professional field. The research philosophy would then not only inform the research, but also andragogic practice, as the idea of ‘editing’ would be explored through different, even philosophical, angles.

The epistemological approach of an interpretivist parallels with the philosophical position of a subjectivist. As the field of editing and film is subjective by nature, and each person has different experiences in both the practice and as an audience, it is this researcher’s the opinion that there are multiple ways of perceiving information based on the situation in which it is being presented, as well as the previous independent experience and knowledge of the transmitter and receiver encoding and decoding that information.

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.
  • 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 aims of this research are:

  1. Defining how the practitioner may teach craftsmanship in a classroom environment. Bridging the gap between practice and education.
  2. An exploration of cultural behaviour in relation to the process of teaching and learning the craft of editing.
  3. To access the social capital factors of the professional and student editors in their decision to pursue and practice their craft.
  4. To determine possible changes to the andragogy of editing and improve student engagement and interest.
  5. To access and reflect on the relevance of the qualitative data collected from interviews and participant observations.

My experience as a professional editor I feel is also under the microscope of this research. The path and decisions I have made in my learning journey cannot be ignored and need to be reflected upon to gain an objective approach to other participants I mean to engage with in this research; such as: other educators of postproduction, student editors in third level education and professional editors in the industry of film and broadcast.

The ontological position of constructionism has influenced this researcher in forming the reflexive research approach. This will hopefully form new knowledge in the field of editing andragogy from previous experiences and learning by practice.

The epistemological approach of an interpretivist parallels with the philosophical position of a subjectivist. As the field of editing and film is subjective by nature, I have the opinion that there are multiple ways of perceiving information based on the situation in which it is being presented, as well as the previous independent experience and knowledge of the receiver decoding that information.

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)

When we consider Sennett’s point on resistance and the previous statement on the sense of distance experienced by the students in my editing module at LIT, the idea of inspiring passion for the craft of editing can be a difficult task for a teacher. 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.

This doctorial journey will help improve my understanding of what is it to be an educator of a craft such as editing. To discover parts of my talent that can be used to improve my teaching methods of the craft of editing and to encourage my students to create paths to discover their own passions for their desired futures. To achieve a passion for teaching that could have the ability to match the passion I have for the craft would be an interesting challenge.

Ultimately to contribute knowledge to both my professional field of editing and the teaching and learning of the subject in the third level environment.

“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. http://www.creativityandcognition.com: 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 28 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.

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  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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