Thursday, 18 April 2013

Fate isn't always so fickle!

Just a quick post today, after yesterday's great meeting with Rosemary and really good campus session with Holly, Hayley, Joannah, Georgie and Anastasia.

The one thing that I really kept thinking about yesterday was that, although the passion for our inquiry topics is clearly evident, the ability to encapsulate what aspect of that area we are try to study, or why we feel it is important to research it, into one smooth explanation is incredibly hard!

I spent all night pondering my own inquiry area, in which I am now very comfortable, and what the underlying rationale is for choosing this area of study or, perhaps, why it chose me...

This morning I carried on re-reading a book, that I had previously discovered way back in January, called Research in Dance. In one of those fateful (in a good way!) moments I decided to pick the following chapter Postpositivist Research in Dance by Jill Green and Susan W. Stinson (whom I am rapidly becoming a big fan of - see my Delicious page!). It's a brilliant explanation of the postpositivist approach to research, taking apart in detail three different forms - interpretive, emancipatory, and deconstructive - and putting them into the context of dance and dance education.

How is this related to the soul of my inquiry? Perhaps a little background first!

My inquiry, as you may or may not know from previous blogs/ SIG entries, is concerned with student experiences and perspectives of how they can be motivated or demoralised in the environ of the local dance school lesson. My aim? To better understand the causes and effects of dance class motivation, to give my students greater ownership of their learning (Fallows and Ahmet, 1999), and to make available that information for other teachers to consider and reflect on so that they might become more able to motivate their students, either by identifying tools they can employ or by listening to their students voices too.
So immediately I know that I am not going to be collecting quantitative data or producing graphs and charts in my reseach findings!
However, I am very aware of the subjective versus objective debate regarding research and of teacher-researcher power, inference and bias. I've also been reading more about the intangible nature of motivation and how we can only observe the effect not the phenomenon itself, which can only produce partial understanding and researcher/ participant interpretation rather than empirical or scientific data.

Hmmm... so, back to the book! In reading one perfectly precise paragraph I found myself wondering if this chapter had been written with my inquiry in mind:
If the primary purpose is to understand an aspect of the dance experience from the participants point of view, and to reflect on the meanings that are expressed, then an interpretive approach will be most useful. (p.113)
Yes, yes and yes!

I feel much more comfortable with my decision to take my inquiry in a very people-oriented direction and know that I am ready to present both the limitations of such interpretive research and the benefits for myself, my students, and other teachers in a similar situation to myself (perhaps not just dance but any 'after school' club or society).

I heartily recommend reading this book if you're inquiry is dance related. Not necessarily all of it, but those chapters that feel relevant to where your inquiry topic is taking you. However, be warned, you will have to fight me to get hold of this copy!!!

Fallows, S. J., & Ahmet, K. (1999). Inspiring students: Case studies in motivating the learner. Routledge.

Fraleigh, S. H., & Hanstein, P. (1999). Researching dance: Evolving modes of inquiry. University of Pittsburgh Press.
It can also be found online here:


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