• October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014, 4:52:20 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk online about your experiences as an adjunct, visiting assistant professor, postdoc, or other contract faculty member.
 
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Past vs. Present Tense in Educational Research  (Read 1231 times)
zuzu_
Frakking
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,408


« on: November 27, 2012, 4:17:52 PM »

I am a newb grad student in English/Literacy Education. I have an MA in English, so I am negotiating a switch to different writing styles.

In English, we always write in the present tense. My current research project involves qualitative analysis of classroom video observations and student writing. In other articles that take a similar approach, it seems that present tense is often used. This seems to be true when analyzing "texts"of student writing or when using discourse analysis to describe classroom interactions.

However at times, I am referring to things that happened in the classroom and they seem less like texts and more like historical/scientific events/observations that should be in past tense.

What are the tense rules?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 4:18:32 PM by zuzu_ » Logged
sagit
And... we're off!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,682


« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 11:07:20 PM »

My best suggestion is to find a few articles in the top journals that you read in your research program.  Pay attention to how they use tense when talking about classroom work.  I think if you are talking about specific events that happened in the classroom, then yes, use past tense.  If it is more a generalized description of types of interactions that happen in classrooms then perhaps past tense isn't the right one.  But i'll admit I sometimes struggle with the appropriate tense in my own research writing. 
Logged

I like to think of the student as a mischievous badger.
dr_prephd
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,340


« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 11:15:06 PM »

Does your field follow APA?

Owl is a great resource.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/04/
Logged

lohai0
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,977


« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2012, 11:16:56 PM »

I am a newb grad student in English/Literacy Education. I have an MA in English, so I am negotiating a switch to different writing styles.

In English, we always write in the present tense. My current research project involves qualitative analysis of classroom video observations and student writing. In other articles that take a similar approach, it seems that present tense is often used. This seems to be true when analyzing "texts"of student writing or when using discourse analysis to describe classroom interactions.

However at times, I am referring to things that happened in the classroom and they seem less like texts and more like historical/scientific events/observations that should be in past tense.

What are the tense rules?

My flavor of Ed follows APA, so things are usually past tense.
Logged

I hate helicopter zombie grandparents. They are the worst.
zuzu_
Frakking
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,408


« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2012, 11:40:41 AM »

I am a newb grad student in English/Literacy Education. I have an MA in English, so I am negotiating a switch to different writing styles.

In English, we always write in the present tense. My current research project involves qualitative analysis of classroom video observations and student writing. In other articles that take a similar approach, it seems that present tense is often used. This seems to be true when analyzing "texts"of student writing or when using discourse analysis to describe classroom interactions.

However at times, I am referring to things that happened in the classroom and they seem less like texts and more like historical/scientific events/observations that should be in past tense.

What are the tense rules?

My flavor of Ed follows APA, so things are usually past tense.

See, this is what is confusing me. Because my flavor of ed also uses APA (which is all new to me), BUT most of the articles I've read that are similar to my approach use PRESENT tense, at least when doing a textual analysis or something that resembles a textual analysis, like discourse analysis. But as a I noted, my project blends with textual analysis with sciency observations.

There is so much gray area here with English/Ed/Comp.

So I just took a closer look at one of my professor's articles that was published in Research in the Teaching of English, and there are tense shifts all over the place! The methods and whatnot are of course in past tense. But in the findings/results, the historical observations from the classroom video are in past tense, but the analysis of students' writing is in present tense. Sometimes it switches from one sentence to the next e.g. "This story was produced by a first-grade child named Brandon. It begins with a formulaic opening...."
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 11:41:23 AM by zuzu_ » Logged
prof_twocents
Random Academic
Senior member
****
Posts: 607

Did I miss anything important?


« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2012, 12:47:04 PM »

But in the findings/results, the historical observations from the classroom video are in past tense, but the analysis of students' writing is in present tense. Sometimes it switches from one sentence to the next e.g. "This story was produced by a first-grade child named Brandon. It begins with a formulaic opening...."

I'm in a field where everything is written in past tense, and I will mark students down multiple letter grades for using present tense. However, the example you have given here is one of the exceptions to the rule. When discussing how an author produced a work, it is done in past tense since those events are in the past. When discussing what that book/article/paper says, however, it is written in present tense because that work continues to exist in the present.
Logged
sagit
And... we're off!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,682


« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2012, 1:19:53 PM »

So I just took a closer look at one of my professor's articles that was published in Research in the Teaching of English, and there are tense shifts all over the place! The methods and whatnot are of course in past tense. But in the findings/results, the historical observations from the classroom video are in past tense, but the analysis of students' writing is in present tense. Sometimes it switches from one sentence to the next e.g. "This story was produced by a first-grade child named Brandon. It begins with a formulaic opening...."

Yes, that looks natural to me.  That's how I would have written that as well.  I don't really know what the rules are.  I just do it instinctively for what seems normal for the type of journals I regularly read and write for.

Logged

I like to think of the student as a mischievous badger.
baleful_regards
Imperfect Uncertainty: Guardian of indecision is a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,404

My magical seagull regards you balefully /\0/\


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2012, 1:29:53 PM »

So I just took a closer look at one of my professor's articles that was published in Research in the Teaching of English, and there are tense shifts all over the place! The methods and whatnot are of course in past tense. But in the findings/results, the historical observations from the classroom video are in past tense, but the analysis of students' writing is in present tense. Sometimes it switches from one sentence to the next e.g. "This story was produced by a first-grade child named Brandon. It begins with a formulaic opening...."

Yes, that looks natural to me.  That's how I would have written that as well.  I don't really know what the rules are.  I just do it instinctively for what seems normal for the type of journals I regularly read and write for.



It "feels" right to me too - my tense shifts because I am using transcripts of children, field notes and reflective narrative. They don't all exist in the same time frame.

Also, I am now inordinately please about having time shifting research.
Logged

Trouble comes to everyone who dares to be a muse.
zuzu_
Frakking
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,408


« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2012, 2:04:48 PM »

OK, yes. That example feels right to me too.

I'm in a field where everything is written in past tense, and I will mark students down multiple letter grades for using present tense. However, the example you have given here is one of the exceptions to the rule. When discussing how an author produced a work, it is done in past tense since those events are in the past. When discussing what that book/article/paper says, however, it is written in present tense because that work continues to exist in the present.

This is what I thought. But since the DATA is largely made up of students' papers/assignments, much of the DATA ANALYSIS is in present tense. Similarly, other data is student/teacher conversations, and it "feels right" to put this analysis in present tense as well, since I am essentially approaching the conversation as a I would approach a paper/text. (e.g. "The teacher gestures to the student...") The video continues to exist in the present, too. In short, I am worried that am using too much present tense, even though it feels right to me.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 2:07:17 PM by zuzu_ » Logged
lohai0
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,977


« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2012, 6:21:16 PM »

OK, yes. That example feels right to me too.

I'm in a field where everything is written in past tense, and I will mark students down multiple letter grades for using present tense. However, the example you have given here is one of the exceptions to the rule. When discussing how an author produced a work, it is done in past tense since those events are in the past. When discussing what that book/article/paper says, however, it is written in present tense because that work continues to exist in the present.

This is what I thought. But since the DATA is largely made up of students' papers/assignments, much of the DATA ANALYSIS is in present tense. Similarly, other data is student/teacher conversations, and it "feels right" to put this analysis in present tense as well, since I am essentially approaching the conversation as a I would approach a paper/text. (e.g. "The teacher gestures to the student...") The video continues to exist in the present, too. In short, I am worried that am using too much present tense, even though it feels right to me.

It starts feeling more natural as you go. I have a lot of present tense in my dissertation because I have similar data.
Logged

I hate helicopter zombie grandparents. They are the worst.
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.