Monday, 19 August 2013

Further considerations

Over the weekend I've been reading a chapter on discourse analysis, and the notes I've made have caused me to look back in my journal at previous entries and reflect on them from a more informed perspective.

The objectivity v subjectivity of my forthcoming research is something that I've already thought a lot about, and how the very nature of my topic area - student perspectives on motivation in the dance class - cannot really be quantified nor provide scientific models or theories for wider application.
However, I hadn't fully considered just how subjective the nature of my research really was:
'Hearing children's voices' is an active, subjective process in contrast with the positivist depiction of data collection as a neutral process of gathering pre-existing facts that are unmediated my our perceptions and unchanged by our practices of description and representation (Alldred and Burman 2005, pp. 175).
The relativity of 'truth' and 'fact,' which actually links right back to Module 1 (campus session 2, recalled to me a previous piece I had read, Postpositivist Research in Dance (Greene and Stinson, 1999), which also deals with the subject of validity and interpretation in this type of research.

One thing that both pieces place importance on is the open acknowledgement of all aspects of interpretation and subjectivity in any summary of the research, from the very beginnings right through to the end, and beyond.
In order for me to be able to do this I felt it was important that I could accurately pinpoint three facts:
  1. Why did I choose this topic?,
  2. What are the aims of my research, and/or what claims can I actually make?, and
  3. Where will my 'self' be evident?
With this knowledge I now have greater insight into, and can produce strategies to reduce, or if not reduce then identify, where I could 'de-rail' my research. It will also, when presenting my 'finished' project, allow me to inform the reader so that they have a greater understanding of the 'why' and 'what for' of my inquiry, and an awareness of it's limitations.

By identifying myself as a major thread running through this inquiry - my perspective has created and designed it, my ears will 'hear' and my eyes 'see' my students perspectives on it, and my hand and mind will analyse, interpret and report it - I am also able to see that I have a huge responsibility to handle this inquiry with great care and consideration. In particular I must be ultra-aware of, and able to accept and acknowledge, such factors as, for example, context, object-framing, bias, and 'cultural 'taken-for-granteds' (Alldred and Burman 2005, pp. 177).

So, can I formulate any kind of conclusion thus far? Well,...yes!

I am now feel that I have clearer understanding of my reasons for choosing this topic, more confidence in why I have chosen certain methodologies and the basic design of my data collection, more awareness of how context and researcher influence will shape this inquiry as a whole, and that I should not be focused on the limitations of my inquiry, for example, the 'wider application' of my research but on the responsibility I have to student benefit and safety, not just before and during but after the research period.

I also feel that I have been given a great opportunity, as teacher/ researcher, to create something useful, even within the interpretive, and therefore subjective, nature of my research, and that there is already a degree of practical application in that it might offer up an opportunity for others to realise that inquiry is a vital part of professional practice.


Alldred, P. and Burman, E. 2005. Analysing Children's Accounts using Discourse Analysis. In: Greene, S. and Hogan, D. eds. 2005. Researching Children's Experience: Methods and Approaches. London: SAGE, pp. 175 - 195.

Green, J. and Stinson, S. 1999. Postpositivist Research in Dance. In: Horton Fraleigh, S. and Hanstein, P. eds. 1999. Researching Dance: Evolving modes of inquiry. University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 91-123.

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