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Hello! My name is Chelsea and I am a third year doctoral student in my second semester of the Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies (ELPS) program; I transferred in January from the doctoral program in Sport Management. I have an anticipated graduation date of Spring 2022 - I essentially completed all my methods and electives during the first year and a half of my doctoral academic career. I just completed the Graduate Certificate in Measurement and Statistics (yay! so GLAD that's over)! I have also begun working on my Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation.

My experience with qualitative research supersedes my experience with quantitative research. I had completed one qualitative (interview) study during my masters program then my thesis was the development of a scale so it did include some qualitative components (such as focus groups). I presented a qualitative (interviews and observation) study last year at the North American Society for Sport Management conference on motivations and efficacy for participating in a sober-active community. Currently under publication review is a study that utilized thematic analysis of students' reflective journals on their service-learning experiences.

My Philosophical Approach

During my masters degree program and upon entry of my doctoral program, I was a post-positivist; numbers shape the world. I understood and valued qualitative inquiry, it just was not the type of research I wanted to do. THEN My advisor from Sport Management, Dr. Giardina, successfully converted me to the 'other side' and I now consider myself a constructivist. After his philosophy of inquiry course (SPM6746: Qualitative Inquiry in Sport offered every spring) I began to realize how every other aspect of my life adopted multiple realities and began to consider why my research should be any different.

After reading Spencer et al. (2014), I feel my worldview is situated between symbolic interactionism (pp. 86-88), phenomenology (pp. 88-90) and critical theory/participatory action research (PAR; pp. 90-92). Beginning with the latter, I believe research should solve social problems and adopting an indigenous perspective, those social problems should be defined by the communities or population we seek to research. There is a difference between community based research (PAR/CBR) and community-PLACED research, thus I identify with critical theory/PAR. The ontological assumptions of phenomenology also fit my world view since I am interested in conceptualizing a framework in how college students make meaning of their recovery from substance use through university organized programmes of sport. Finally, I seek to highlight how substance use and recovery, especially for college students, are created, negotiated, and reflect various meanings across individuals and the life span (p. 87) thus I align with symbolic interactionism. All of these philosophical approaches utilize (auto)ethnography, observations and interviews in pursuit of their research questions. I intend to utilize multi-site ethnography as my dissertation project (although last semester Dr. Khurshid suggested multi-case study instead so I am further exploring these options).

Current Research Project

Topics of interest for me include social justice and equality initiatives. I seek to improve the higher education experience for students from all backgrounds and across all settings, especially those students who have been marginalized or oppressed with little to no research on (i.e. students in recovery from substance use disorder, single parents, graduate students with disabilities). This includes, but is not limited to, service-learning, within STEM, and in housing initiatives. I have an affinity for sports and holistic wellness of students and attempt to make that the focal point of my research.

For this class, the focus of my research project are pilot studies for my dissertation; the role of sport in collegiate recovery. I am conceptualizing what I refer to as a sport-for-recovery framework. I hope to use these materials to apply for a dissertation grant Fall 2020 and/or early Spring 2021.

I will be doing initial analyses on two sets of empirical materials . First, I will be using students reflective journals of their service-learning experiences in a sober-active community. This empirical material was collected during the Spring 2019 (n = 12) and Fall 2019 (n = 10) semesters; there is a good chance half of these are not viable though. Second, I will be analyzing five autobiographies of professional athletes who share in detail their experience with substance use.


Spencer, R., Pryce, J. M., & Walsh, J. (2014). Philosophical approaches to qualitative research. The Oxford handbook of qualitative research (P. Leavy, Ed.). Oxford University Press.

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