Educational Science

PhD Project: Theoretical/conceptual/empirical – “Two souls are dwelling in my breast”

First Draft of my ideas on a phd project (drawn 2013 during my MA studies )

During the last two weeks I did a lot of planning and reading in regard to my PhD-Project. This included testing a software for project-management (smartsheet) as meanwhile I know my learning/working patterns and a structured plan (even if it has to be changed several times and is enhancing and changing permanently during a long-time-project) always helped to discover strength and weaknesses in drafts and ideas on a long-term project.

Splitting my proposal therefor into milestones (1) and into a 2, max. 3 year-timeframe awoke doubts about the intended use of my methodological design I described in my proposal up to now. I  am still committed to the Mixed Methods Design and the Project Plan itself, as a whole. But I think the project would benefit from splitting it into the PhD project (theoretical/analytical/conceptual) and a post-doctoral phase of conceptualization/implementation/evaluation and papers on those.

I could imagine two differente scenario:

The research questions would remain the same:

  • How can changes in learning processes in higher education, caused through the impact of digitalization and network and global online learning-communities, be described in a way that justifies to enlarge the Piagetian stages so as to define a fifth stage of development –  individually (ontogenesis) as well as social-cultural (phylogenesis respectively sociogenesis)
  • To which of Piaget’s cognitive Stages of Development could recent approaches of MOOCs be assigned to? And how would a model or approach have to be conceptualized to outrun recent models or approaches of MOOCs to enable students to reach this newly defined fifth stage?


the criteria would be defined and described basing on a “mere” fusion and (hypothetical) enhancement of existing (interdisciplinary) theories – Focus on Piaget, enlarged through Bateson, Systemtheories, Theories on Communication and Change, (educational-)sociology, -psychology, anthropology, linguistic … leading to a model similarly structured as one I described in my M.A. Thesis (2) –


as above, and then conceptualizing a competence-grid (similar/enhancing the one of my M.A. (3)) and giving concrete and detailed examples for digital tools and didactial (mathetical?) scenario to enable and foster enhancement competence through a consequent use of metacommunication on different levels and blueprints.

–> both meaning that the described Mixed Method Design would be the methodological frame of post-doctoral work and papers (review on existing data, own data through interviews and questionaires, conceptualizatin, implementation and evaluation of a GOAL on Enhancement Competence to combine with MOOCs of different universities from different learning-cultures) – basing on the criteria defined in the PhD Thesis.


The alternative would be, to cut back the theoretical part and to limit it in regard to interdiciplinary  theories and approaches. It would be possible but at the moment it makes me feel uncomfortable …

I would be happy to receive feedback on the idea of a “mere” theoretical/analytical/conceptual PhD – did someone do it in educational science?

















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