Developing the flow of my literature review

In the few days since my last post, I have had more thoughts about my relational diagram and am now on V1.4! I have attached it below along with my latest assumptions.

RQ tems mapped to relational diagramV1.4

Further iterations of my relational diagram came from following the Doctoral Writing SIG Part 3 guide to writing a meaningful literature review, that calls for the researcher to plan the structure and flow of my literature review to generate content. Arnold Wentzel (2016) is the author of this particular guidance, and he suggests that “finding a logical flow between assumptions can be challenging”. He does, however, have an answer to this dilemma by using connecting phrases between each assumption to see if, at the end of what becomes a very long sentence, the potential flow of the literature makes sense. V0.0, V1.0, V1.1, V1.2 and V1.3 didn’t flow for me, and V1.4 is starting to feel more workable. Below you will see that I have created the long sentence, then have followed Wentzel’s suggestion for structuring my literature review by breaking my long sentence into sections.

The long sentence: Critical reflection of current online teaching experiences creates self-development opportunities in my desire to be an online teacher NOT do online teaching (D) and an awareness of established online teacher professional development (oTPD) models will contextualise my approach to developing my networked learning teaching praxis (NLTP) in a unique way (E) which can be achieved through applying analytic autonetnography as an emerging eResearch methodology which gives me complete member researcher status as an online teacher to identify my own oTPD needs (B) complemented by transformational learning theory as a theoretical framework to emphasise critical reflection of online pedagogy to inform how I maintain authentic relationships with online learners (C). oTPD success will be achieved by understanding situational knowledge relating to my NLTP, emotional barriers and critically reflexive self-examination (F) and my future NLTP will be enhanced as a result (A)

Now I need to break this down:

The nature of my oTPD needs

Critical reflection of current online teaching experiences creates self-development opportunities in my desire to be and online teacher, not do online teaching (D) and an awareness of established oTPD models will contextualise my desire to develop my NLTP in a unique way (E)

Methods to explore my oTPD needs

Analytic autonetnography as an emerging eResearch methodology gives me complete member researcher status as a neophyte online teacher to identify my own oTPD needs (B) supported by transformational learning theory as a theoretical framework to emphasise critical reflection of my understanding of online pedagogy to inform the development and maintenance of authentic relationships with online learners (C)

Achieving enhancement in NLTP

By understanding situational knowledge relating to my current NLTP, including emotion barriers and critically reflexive self-examination (F) self-examination will highlight areas of self-development and my NLTP will be enhanced as a result (A)

I am sure this process will evolve as I progress, but I feel more confident now in my literature review plan. Next, I move on to part 4 of the guidance and no doubt you will hear how well I manage the final phase of planning …

Developing the flow of my literature review

2nd iteration of my literature review relational diagram

Ok – so here goes my 2nd iteration of the literature review relational diagram in light of a morning of thinking about the relationships between my research questions (see previous post) and moving on to the next phase of creating a flow in the literature review as explained in part 3 of the Doctoral Writing SIG. When I tried to create a flow, my first iteration of the relational diagram felt somewhat clumsy, so I went back to the drawing board. This iteration feels more developed (see below), so now I need to see if I can plan the structure of my literature review and create a flow. That might be tomorrow’s goal …

RQ tems mapped to relational diagramV1.2

2nd iteration of my literature review relational diagram

Literature review relational diagram

It has been suggested by the Doctoral Writing SIG that to generate the content of a literature review, it is worth identifying and working with assumptions that support the research question (RQ). I have followed Wentzel’s idea to create a diagrammatic overview of my research questions and to try to make sense of how to go about my literature review from that. Just as a reminder, my RQs are detailed below, followed by my attempt at making sense of my literature review (which has been somewhat chaotic to date).

Main RQ

How can analytic autonetnography be used to develop my networked learning teaching praxis (NLTP)?

Sub RQs

  • How does analytic autonetnography inform my professional development as a face-to-face teacher, learning to teach online?
  • In what ways has self-examination of my development as an online teacher transformed my NLTP?
  • What skills, resources and data collection methods informed the reflexive analysis of my NLTP?
  • In what ways might analytic autonetnography benefit other face-to-face teachers’ professional development as the learn to teach online?

I wonder if I have the correct relational diagram to inform my literature review …

RQ tems mapped to relational diagram

Literature review relational diagram

Casting the ‘net’ in autonetnography

I have a desire to explore the dynamics of learning to be an online teacher in such a way that I can examine closely how I teach online, what I do well, and which areas of my NLTP require development. I find myself drawn towards considering how learning in this way might lead to transformation of my online teaching practice. This professional desire to improve and foster my own transformative learning through autonomous, in-depth critical reflexivity has influenced my conceptualisation of my proposed research that seeks to explore how anaytic autonetnography might be used to develop my networked learning teaching praxis (NLTP)? The figure below is my visual representation of how autonetnography forms the intersection between the concepts of NLTP, transformative learning theory (Mezirow, 1991) and online teacher professional development, all of which are encompassed within my epistemological perspective that merges social constructivism with postmodernism.

Conceptualising autonetnography

As an experienced online learner, my epistemological stance is influenced by the belief that knowledge construction is a social process whereby online scholarship is enhanced through interactive collaboration, cooperation and critique of others’ contributions. Muncey (2010, p.12) agrees, claiming “that knowledge of self and others develops simultaneously, both being dependent on social interaction; self and society represent a common whole and neither can exist without the other”. Significantly, Harklau & Norwood (2005) claim that combining the “researcher’s role and reflexivity” (p.278) have largely been neglected. Thus I argue that the fusion of social constructivism (my learning with and from others) whilst exploring in a postmodern sense of who I am as an online teacher reflects Muncey’s (2010) aforementioned claim that learning is co-dependent on social interaction and insight into the self. Recent postmodern researchers (Clarke, 2005; den Outer, Handley, & Price, 2013; Nash & LaSha Bradley, 2011; Soukup, 2012) have followed in the footsteps of Lyotard (1984) who rejected grand narratives in favour of narratives that do not seek closure or totality. Arguably, critical reflexivity of NLTP requires the individual to continually assess and reassess their practice in a more cyclical form, rather than seeking closure to a specific learning experience. Mezirow (1991, p.15) claims that “reflection is not the same as introspection, when this latter term refers to simply becoming aware of the fact that we are perceiving, thinking, or acting in a certain way”. Rather, reflection relies to a considerable extent on memory to frame a remembered experience. In response to such a perspective, Muncey (2010) posits that “memory is a central issue in personal reflections” (p.56) and that whilst postmodernists accept the complications associated with gaps or omissions in memory, those who purport to reflections “constrained within the philosophical traditions of Heidegger or Husserl” (p.94) reject the value of the personal encounter with self in the context of others.

The crux of my conceptualisation is that having appropriate skills to reflect critically on one’s own teaching practice is an explicit requirement of all teachers. However, to maintain a focus on NLTP as opposed to face-to-face or blended teaching practice, my proposed autonetnography is tailored to a specific domain (online teaching), directed towards particular outcomes (insights into my professional development as a neophyte online teacher learning to teach using digital technologies), and a transformative practical professional learning activity. I argue that in the absence of established autonetnographic methodology, transformation learning theory (Mezirow, 1991) provides a theoretical context for such professional development practice (Closs & Antonello, 2011).

Taylor (2009) suggests that there are six core elements that frame transformative learning in the context of teachers’ facilitating such learning for their students. These core elements include: having an original experience, critical reflection of the experience; dialogue with the self and others; a holistic orientation to the experience, where Taylor (2009, p.10) calls for the “engagement with other ways of knowing – the affective and relational”; an awareness of the context of the experience; and, having authentic relationships with learners. Rather than the teacher referring to these six core elements to teach their learners how to participate in transformative learning practice, I suggest that if the developing online teacher utilises these elements to explore their own practice, there is a synergy between transforming NLTP and my interpretation of autonetnography. This symbiotic relationship between the theoretical conceptualisation of transformative learning theory and autonetnography might resonate as a useful professional learning framework for other experienced face-to-face teachers who wish to develop their NLTP.  Such teachers are likely to have previously acquired beliefs about what constitutes good teaching in the classroom, yet are required to examine the origins, nature and consequences of face-to-face teaching practice in the context of NLTP. If the role of the educator in transformative learning “involves assisting learners in their processes of transformation and helping learners overcome situational, knowledge, or emotional barriers so as to trigger transformative learning” (Closs & Antonello, 2011, p.73) then a subjective understanding of the online teachers’ own situational, knowledge or emotional barriers through critically reflexive self-examination using autonetnography may facilitate such action.

Throughout my academic development in HE as a learner and as a teacher, I have been socialised into “academic and scholarly ways of writing” (Armstrong, 2008, p.1) that focuses on writing in the third person. Conversely, I consider the value of turning the ‘gaze’ on to the self, as a unique opportunity for the self-design of bespoke professional learning for teachers moving towards NLTP by writing in the first person.


Armstrong, P. (2008). Toward an autoethnographic pedagogy. 38th Annual SCUTREA Conference, University of Edinburgh.

Clarke, A. (2005). Situational Analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Closs, L., & Antonello, C. S. (2011). Transformative learning: Intergration critical reflection into management education. Journal of Transformative Learning, 9(2), 63-88.

den Outer, B., Handley, K., & Price, M. (2013). Situational analysis and mapping for use in education research: A reflexive methodology? Studies in Higher Education, 38(10), 1504-1521. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.641527

Harklau, L., & Norwood, R. (2005). Negotiating research roles in ethnographic program evaluation: A postmodern lens. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 36(3), 278-288.

Lyotard, J. (1984). The Postmodern Condition. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Muncey, T. (2010). Creating Autoethnographies. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Nash, R., J., & LaSha Bradley, D. (2011). Me-search and Re-search: A guide for writing scholarly personal narrative manuscripts. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Soukup, C. (2012). The postmodern ethnographic flaneur and the study of hyper-mediated everyday life. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42(2), 226-254.

Taylor, E. W. (2009). Fostering transformative learning. In J. Mezirow, E. W. Taylor & and Associates (Eds.), Transformative learning in practice: Insights from community, workplace, and higher education (pp. 3-17). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Casting the ‘net’ in autonetnography