Into the Labyrinth : A PhD Comprehensive Portfolio

Labyrinth Explored

"Sacrificed, transformed, and wisened, the researcher emerges from the immersive experience as an empowering force for others’ research journeys" (Jones, 2013, p. 66).

     Just as Jones (2013) describes her PhD journey using a labyrinth metaphor, this labyrinth story is one of transformation and becoming wiser about academic and scholarly work. The labyrinth path is bound by the expectations established by the Joint PhD program and the sequential course process of moving toward a central point in the program, the comprehensive portfolio defence. The Joint PhD program, just as the labyrinth process described by Ullyatt (2011), is designed to "actualize the new sense of self, to produce a profound transformational experience or, at least, a new awareness of oneself" (p. 118). This comprehensive portfolio will reflect on this transformational work in order to substantiate my qualifications for PhD research candidacy in the field of Cognition and Learning. 

     Labyrinths are liminal spaces (Ullyatt, 2011). Liminality implies movement, a shifting from one place to another. Liminality is rooted to the term 'limen' which references a threshold, doorway, lintel, or frame, and infers a movement through a boundary or entrance (Ullyat, 2011). This indicates a boundary line, an entrance/exit, a choice and decision to enter or step inside, and a movement inward or outward. Labyrinths are two dimensional, built on the ground without physical boundaries to contain or restrain, so a walker makes choices to stay on the path. This comprehensive portfolio and the defence of this portfolio is a threshold and boundary in the PhD program. This portfolio assemblage contains evidence of movement from and toward knowledge, understanding, and experience. I will explore transitions in thinking about ontologies, theories, research methodologies and "lines of flight" (Ovens, Strom, & Garbett, 2016) as I walk through the courses in the program and craft academic and scholarly works. This work is framed by the notion of semiotics.

"If texts can be produced and interpreted ... it is because the universe of semiosis can be postulated in the format of a labyrinth. The regulative hypothesis of a semiosic universe structured as a labyrinth governs the approach to other classical issues such as metaphor, symbol, and code" (Eco, 1984, p. 2). 

This comprehensive portfolio is a text, produced and interpreted within a 'semiosic universe' where metaphor, symbol, and code will impact meaning making and understanding (Eco, 1984). This comprehensive portfolio explores how I make sense of the signs, symbols, and codes within the Cognition and Learning field of study. I explore the semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics within areas of interest to this quest toward a PhD.

These areas of interest include:     This portfolio, as a model of my readiness to conduct PhD research, also explores the reasoning and reflection about this alternative and non-traditional presentation format, or alt-diss construction, since this has emerged from my PhD studies, is validated by my ontological and epistemological framework, and necessarily grounds my research. 

     SaldaƱa (2016) suggests "private and personal written musings before, during, and about the entire enterprise are a question-raising, puzzle-piecing, connection-making, strategy-building, problem-solving, answer-generating, rising-above-the-data heuristic" (p. 44). The Labyrinth Construction section does just that, as I next explore how this comprehensive portfolio is constructed as a result of my journey into the labyrinth. Here I stand, in the center of the labyrinth, reflecting backward over the process thus far, and looking forward to the path yet untravelled.

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