Monday, 22 April 2013

It's all a question of questions!

In my last post I talked about how I had been really inspired by taking part in an interview as the participant rather than the researcher. Since then I've been reading about data collection and finding that both the experience and the new knowledge are making patterns and connections in my mind.
The result of this reflection is that I have been trialing out questions, with friends - both dance and non-dance - and students, with the aim of refining my interview strategy so that I can get the most out of my time without collecting masses of data that is irrelevant.
The initial response to my questions were good, with most participants finding them easy to understand, and I found that talk was fairly free flowing and relaxed. What was said was not always relevant, as some participants were not dance trained whilst others were adults (and therefore outside of my sample age), but I feel that just having the opportunity to explore the format my data collection will take is invaluable. It is something that I will keep doing right up until I actually begin my research for real.

One really pleasing aspect of this trial is that I have realised that I want to encourage anyone who takes part to feel that there are no limits to what they can say. For example, as a teacher I feel that I am limited in what I can achieve in terms of student motivation, for example: outside influences (such as bad day at school or argument with parent), time constraints of lessons, class sizes, principals expectation of exam results, etc. However, in my research I don't want limits put on the ideas and thoughts of my students!
It links back, in my mind, to the Module 1 section on journal writing styles, and the writing of fantastical journal entries, where we could take our thoughts to the furthest extremes of our imagination. In a 'nothing is too crazy' scenario there were grains of truth that might lead to reflection about how to achieve aspects of this 'ideal world.'
How might this help my inquiry?
Well, in being fantastical I believe that I am more likely to get my students speaking freely and without reserve. The thoughts and ideas that they share with me, I hope, will give me an insight into what really matters to them and, through analysis, from a more diluted and realistic perspective, I might understand how it could be possible to re-create them in the classroom.
I'd love to see what anyone else thinks so here's what I think may be the last question in my interview:

If I gave you a magic wand to create the most motivational dance lesson you could, what would you use it to do?

Another addition to my data collection methods is going to be the use of a diary. I will give my participants a small book (nothing too big or intimidating so that they feel they have to fill it) to write down their feelings and experiences of one really motivating dance lesson and one where they felt less motivated or perhaps even demotivated.
My reasons are as follow:
  • A more immediate way for my students to capture their feelings and experiences than trying to think about motivation in the sterile environment of the interview.
  • Offering students that are perhaps less able to verbalise their thoughts and experiences another way of getting their voices heard,
  • An opportunity to spend as much, or little, time as they can afford on participating in the study,
  • The control over what is relevant to the individual student and what is not, and
  • The opportunity to choose to make an entry at time that is suitable to them.
I am very aware that I am asking a lot of my students but I am hoping that by offering two different methods of data collection I can gather more variety of data and therefore deeper insight into my topic of 'motivation'.
At the moment I also aim to use the diary as part of the interview as a point of reference for the student - a memory jog if you like - with them in control of the diary throughout. (I hope that I am able to do a short pilot, to see what the benefits/ pitfalls are, before embarking on my final inquiry.)

With the date rapidly approaching for the end of module assignment I have realised that the nature of my study does not allow for concrete statements of intent but rather that my inquiry will need to change, adapt and develop throughout the journey.
I have a strong rationale for my choice of topic, an evolving strategy for my research and methodology that I am continuing to refine, and a strong ethical awareness...I hope that this, coupled with my passion and enthusiasm, will make for an interesting and engaging proposal.

Fraleigh, S. H., & Hanstein, P. (1999). Researching dance: Evolving modes of inquiry. University of Pittsburgh Pre.
Greene, S., & Hogan, D. (Eds.). (2005). Researching children's experience: Approaches and methods. SAGE Publications Limited.
Riley, J. (1990). Getting the Most from Your Data: A Handbook of Practical Ideas on how to Anlayse Qualitative Data. Technical and Educational Services.

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