Ready, Steady Cook: The Growth of a Middle Aged Novice Researcher in the “Academic Kitchen”


  • Lorraine Godden Queen's University


Professional Development, Mature Student, Adult Learning


This paper takes inspiration from the work of Peter Elbow, who in his 1998 text Writing Without Teachers, described writing as a process of growing and cooking. As I read Elbow’s representations, I was struck by the similarity between learning to write and becoming a novice researcher. Elbow explained how each writer’s growth cycle would be individual and distinct. Thus, Elbow reasoned; “the main thing you must do if you want to help growing happen in your writing is to try to get a feel for the organic, developmental process” (pp. 42-43). Elbow explained that this means you need to get a sense of your development over space and time, and focus on “the shape of a set of changes occurring in a structure” (p. 43). Elbow described how if growing is the larger process, then cooking is the smaller…Cooking drives the engine that makes growing happen” (1998, p. 48). To me, this sounds like the feeling of being a graduate student and fledgling researcher. Since I commenced graduate study in 2009, I have struggled to make sense of my previous professional roles in relation to how I am developing my skills as a researcher. Life as a graduate student has been much like the process of writing as cooking that Elbow described. In this article, I tell the story of how these experiences have interlaced to represent one of the most profoundly important cooking and growing periods of my life.

Author Biography

Lorraine Godden, Queen's University

Lorraine Godden’s research includes career education, professional development of educators, and the role of mentoring as both support and scaffold for successful professional and leadership development. Lorraine draws on her experience of working in profit and non-profit sectors, as an educational manager, and more recently from her qualitative research with at-risk youth, trainee teachers, and graduate students. Lorraine’s doctoral work examines the intersection between educators and policy and curriculum documents in the policy implementation process.






Position Paper/Essai