Monday, 30 September 2013

Thought for the day

I've just started Chapter 6 of Understanding Motivation and Emotion (Reeve, 2005) and had the following thought:

I think of extrinsic motivators, in my professional practice, as things like, for example, stickers awarded for good behaviour, or effort, or examination achievements. However, is it not the case that anything that comes from outside of the student, and affects motivation, can be said to be an extrinsic motivator; the "Do this and you will get that" motivation (Reeve, 2005, p.134).
So, by extension of this hypothesis, the dance teacher must be a major facilitator of  extrinsic motivation in the dance lesson.
A second statement that might also be concluded from this statement is that, no matter whether the student is acting out of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, there will be cause and effect due to the teacher's approach to the class.

This is the diagram that I drew in my journal as I was thinking through these possibilities:
 The question of intrinsic or extrinsic motivational state in the student, therefore, could be almost irrelevant to the outcome of motivation in the learning environment (in this case, the dance class). The rate of increase or decrease could well be affected depending on which underlying factor is stronger in the student, for example, is it quicker to demotivate a student with negative feedback if achievement is the motivator versus a student who still derives pleasure from dancing even though the teacher is not very complimentary?
From the point of view of my inquiry then it is likely that, wherever each participant gets their motivation from, a majority of the causes of increasing or decreasing motivation will be something that the teacher affects. This gives my research a real importance to my own professional practice and also could prove helpful to other teachers who perhaps find their students lacking in, or losing, motivation in their dance classes.
I would be very grateful if you would comment on whether you agree, or disagree, with any, or all, of the above.
I am not suggesting that the dance teacher has all the answers, and there are other environmental/ extrinsic factors that will affect motivation - peers, parents, societal pressures, etc. - but it seems to me that the more I read, the more it falls to the dance teacher to inspire students through an understanding of motivational theory.

Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion. 4th Ed. USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Feedback on inquiry

I looked back at Rosemary's feedback for my inquiry earlier on in the month and two main areas for improvement were (1) literature reviews and (2) citing properly.
I have since taken steps to practice better citation skills, in blogs and when making notes on literature, so that I don't fall down again on this area. I have also been using a wonderful tool, suggested by Hannah Stewart, that helps with the different forms of citing, for example, books, websites, journals, etc. It can be found here:

As far as literature reviewing skills, I think that part of the problem with my inquiry proposal was that I didn't correctly understand what was required and so, instead of reviewing the literature in the proposal, I simply listed the books that had either been, or were likely to be, useful in designing the proposal and the research itself.
I hope that, from now on, I can become more adept at the critical aspect of reviewing literature, in particular, with regard to it's use in my research.
A quick blog entitled 'Light bulb!' hopefully shows that I am, in fact, able to assess literature as to it's relevance and importance to my subject area.

I am, at the moment, feeling on track with other aspects of my inquiry; data is currently being created by participants - next week will be the end of the four weeks set aside for this - and I am about to start organising the interviews for the fifth and sixth weeks, which will take me up to roughly the half term (depending on the availability of students) as planned in my proposal.

I am still finding new insights into my topic area of motivation, and hope to continue reading and researching literature right up until I have collected in, catalogued, and transcribed all data. This will then give me a more secure starting point for my data analysis.
This inquiry will not follow a definite, planned path, as I cannot predict what data I will have after the six week period is up. For this reason, although I would like to start putting in place definite ways of analysing and/or cataloguing I realise that this is fruitless until I have the physical data in front of me; I have no concrete idea what my research will find, nor what outcome(s) I will be able to draw, so I will just continue to become more widely read rather than focus in too early.

One discovery I made recently (Reeve, 2005) identifies an existing research project about motivation that also used diaries to gather data and I hope to track this down soon.



Friday, 27 September 2013

Light bulb!

Yesterday was one of those days when something new enters the brain and causes a frisson of activity, by combining with previous knowledge, thought, and experience, to create what I like to call 'a light bulb moment!'

I think I've been subconsciously concerned with the practical applications of my inquiry findings as, at the moment, I do not really know what I am going to find, and also that, being a subjective and qualitative project - and one which is not really asking for answers from participants but thoughts, feelings and experiences, I have got to produce a tangible artefact from what could potentially be abstract and isolated data.

However, I've picked up Understanding Motivation and Emotion (Reeve, 2005) again, over the last few days, and yesterday completed Chapter 5 - Psychological Needs (pp. 101 - 130). My 'lightbulb moment' seemed to occur during the section sub-headed 'Engagement' (pp.124 - 125); I think I literally heard the switch go 'click.'

So here's what I came up with:
  • If my inquiry is to be of any use to teachers it must be practical
  • My inquiry is not concerned with the physical/ technical requirements of the teaching of dance to students but the emotional/ motivational side - therefore it is looking into the psychological needs of students.
  • Newly discovered knowledge, from existing research, leads me to the area of 'engagement' and the three components - autonomy, competence and relatedness.
  • Each component involves the social context of 'satisfying the psychological needs' (Reeve, 2005, p.124).
  • Dance classes are a social context with the teacher playing a large role in the engagement (or disengagement) of students by satisfying (or neglecting) their psychological needs.
  • Table 5.3 Environmental Factors that Involve and Satisfy the Psychological Needs (pp.124) clearly shows how this is achieved:
  • By analysing data through this framework there would be coherence, structure and method to my data analysis, and greater potential for clarity, and ease of understanding, in report writing and the professional artefact.
  • My data is likely to be wide ranging and individual specific but, if I agree that motivation is affected by this theory of engagement, should I not find that, through deeper analysis, most of my participants thoughts, feelings and emotions will 'fit' into one of the components - the desire for autonomy, the need to feel competent, and the feeling of relatedness?
I'm so excited by this new discovery!
It's not the end of the process, by a long way, but it feels like a giant step forward to me. A previously disparate group of ideas and knowledge that is now beginning to connect; a way of relating individual/ unique data to the wider topic through the lens of the dance class, with, hopefully, practical application.
(Sorry but I've got to give it a WOOP WOOP!!).

I'd love to get a dialogue going about this so if anyone has the time to comment or message me I'd really appreciate it.

Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion. USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Good intentions...

This Fox news report got me thinking about how important it is to consider all aspects of a problem/ solution to identify areas of positive and negative effect:

In this case, tackling childhood obesity is clearly a major concern and something needs to be done about it. Therefore it can be said that alerting and/or informing parents to the health issues of having an overweight child is a positive step towards educating people about better nutrition and exercise programmes.
However, is sending letters home the best idea? Doesn't it fall under the same sort of labelling that mental health statements can suggest; doesn't it put people into boxes - you're fat, you're not, you're fat, you're not...
Surely the fact that students are calling them "fat letters" suggests that it is already a point of ridicule within the schools, and at an age where an individuals value and respect is precariously balanced, is this going to cause more harm (eating disorders, low self-esteem, etc.) than good?

So, why am I blogging this?
Well, because of that fine (ethical) line between motivation and humiliation, to paraphrase the film clip title.

It has got me thinking that having looked at, and put in place, a range of ethical guidelines that my inquiry should follow, perhaps I could fall down at the 'best intentions' stage. I may have my students safety, well-being and interest at heart but who is to say that I don't create more, or different, problems by trying to understanding the current one?
I think this is where having a good network of peers, colleagues, and friends comes into it's own; by sharing, discussing and identifying topics from multiple points of view there is a better chance of foreseeing the unknown.

I look forward to commenting, sharing and debating with you all on blogs/ forums/ SIGs, and hope that you will engage with me and share your unique and insightful points of view with me.



Fox News. 2013. School 'fat letters': Motivation or humiliation?. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: 26 Sep 2013].

Durrant, A. 2012. Reader 3 The Networked Professional. London: Middlesex University.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Next steps

This is the start of the third week of 'diary time' for my students and I am now turning my thoughts to further reading on motivation in preparation for the participant interviews I shall shortly be conducting.
I am not looking to produce tightly structured Q&A style interviews as I would like each student to feel they can control the direction of the interview and talk for longer about the areas that they feel are most important to them. However, I also realise that I need to have a flexible structure - to guide any participant who may struggle with free-flowing chat - and also to allow me to cover similar ground during each interview - for more cohesive analysis and cross-checking of data.
So, here's my plan so far:
  1. Start the interview with short, easy questions for ice-breaking, relaxing the participant and getting the ball rolling,
  2. Develop topic or theme of 'motivation in the dance class' through increasingly more open lines of discussion,
  3. Allow time for participant to talk about their major issues, thoughts, ideas, concerns,
  4. Finish interview with a recap of things covered, allowing for anything additional the participant wishes to add,
  5. Possibly include a brainstorm, spider gram, ideas board aspect to the process to get a one or two word, cut-to-the-heart-of-the-topic set of data.
Well, that's the basic plan. Now I've just got the small matter of developing that plan in something suitable, interesting and relevant to all participants!!

Alongside further reading, and interview planning I will also need to begin arranging slots for these interviews, bearing in mind the need for safe, convenient and relaxing environments, by offering to fit in with student class schedules as much as possible.

I am also looking at options for the most convenient and reliable of recording devices to use, from Dictaphones to Tablets, with a view to reducing the intrusive or potentially time-consuming nature of having to record interviews.

I have also created a safe, secure storage area for all inquiry materials, one that is separate from all other paperwork, in which I can file any/ all data in an organised manner to help reduce the chance of mistakes or misrepresentation in my analysis and report.


Monday, 16 September 2013


Today's blog is only a short one as I'm nursing a very poorly doggie atm (please keep your fingers-crossed).

The diaries have now gone out to the participants, and the responses to the 'briefing chats' I had have been very positive, inspiring and lead to one recurring question that had not even crossed my mind,
"What if I run out of paper!"
There was me hoping for one or two diary entries from my students, as I am aware that they have busy lives and new school years to cope with, and at least two of my students are asking me what they should do if they run out of diary space!!

One student even told me that she had read and re-read the aims and objectives, that I provided with the letter of consent, because she was really interested by the topic I had chosen and felt it was really worthwhile. This has really brought home to me how important the respect between teacher and student is in engaging, promoting value and developing not only learning but personal growth too.

Even if I should gain nothing further from this module I firmly believe that my teaching will forever be changed (for the better); taking the time, in the busy schedule of timetables, syllabus requirements, examinations and daily problems/ concerns, to connect as human beings is vital to the well-being and development of all.


Monday, 9 September 2013

The time for preperation is over!

I can't believe the holidays are over, they seem to have really flown by! I went back to work on Saturday and yesterday was spent on a course to learn the new Grade 5 tap (I.S.T.D.), which was tiring but a lot of fun.

This is the first week of term for both schools that are helping me with my inquiry.
As I want to give each participant the maximum amount of time, during the four weeks that I have set aside for the first part of my data collection, I have been planning and organising the letters, diaries and timings so that I can provide the students with everything they need over the next few days.

The diary itself is a little notebook, which I bought in two colours (see picture below). I felt this would make it (1) easier to keep track of them, for giving out and collecting in purposes, and (2) give me another possible avenue of analysis, i.e. comparing one school's responses to the other.

I have added my contact details to each diary, so that I am easily available to the participants to answer questions and discuss, and hopefully reduce or remove, any concerns.
I have also numbered each diary so that when it comes to interview I can assign the interview tape the same number to ensure integrity, consistency and allow for triangulation, etc.

To let each participant know exactly what it is I would like them to do I have produced a letter, which you can see here.
I have matched the colour palette of the letter to the diary cover (i.e. orange and blue) with the aim of making it feel more user-friendly for participants, and have included in the contents of the letter the aims of the inquiry, advice on confidentiality and reinforcement about the need for honesty in what they put in their diary.
I have deliberately not stated 'how much' I would like participants to do, for example, that they must write before and after every class or write a page for each section, as I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on the participants or make taking part in this study feel like a chore. Of course, it would be wonderful if I get back diaries that have been entered in regularly and that are full of insight and detail but I realise that, although my inquiry is high on my list of priorities, taking part in this research is not necessarily going to be top of my students list!

Before finalising the content of the letter I asked people in my professional network to read through it and let me know their thoughts. I was very keen to produce a letter that was clear, concise, and therefore suitable for the students it is aimed at. Feedback was positive about both the language used and the layout/ length of the letter. 

I still believe that it is important for me to verbally instruct my participants too, so that I am building on the researcher/ teacher - student relationship, but I am also aware that I must not encroach on any class time nor detain them after lessons for too long in order to do so. My plan is to have a brief, and private (i.e. not in front of non-participants), conversation with my students during the 'change over' period between classes.
I also intend to reiterate that they can choose to stop participating at any point during the inquiry.

By providing both verbal and written instruction, and giving quick and easy access (via text, call or email) to me outside of 'school time' I aim to ensure that everyone is clear and happy about their involvement.

I am really looking forward to starting on this next stage of my inquiry; it's a step into the unknown but one that I am excited about taking.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Task 7a - the journey so far...

Over the summer holidays I've been doing some reading (see August blogs) so as to become more informed about my inquiry format and area. Although very interesting, giving me lots to reflect on both for the following term and in the future, it's always helpful to me to be able to talk things through with others, as I find this always makes things clearer in my own mind. As the holidays have seen most people away, getting some much needed 'r&r,' I haven't really found the opportunity to interact with others and discuss ideas or share concerns.
Thankfully, that's all started to change now that the new term is upon us!

In the last twenty-four hours I have been able to have two very interesting and helpful conversations that I would like to blog about; the first one, with Paula Nottingham, helped me to see that there are still many things I need to address before starting my data collection next week (hence this blog title), and the second one, with two good friends who work in education, about the professional artefact (which I will put into a separate blog).
As I need to start my data collection during the first week of term (to allow maximum time for gathering whilst still enough time for analysis, etc) Paula very kindly agreed to a tutorial before the start of the BAPP term. It was great to talk to her at length, partly because I've just moved over into her 'care' after Rosemary left and partly because she has opened up areas that I hadn't previously been aware of.

So, it's time to reflect on my proposal and identify areas that need changing.

With consent forms already done, and students/ principals on board, I had anticipated just verbally briefing my participants during the first week of term before handing out diaries for them to make entries into. Further reflection and discussion has now led me to identify several issues that need addressing:
  • Keeping lines of communication ongoing with the principal of each school so that they are always aware of what I am doing, why I am doing it and how I am going about it. - I will ensure that I regularly contact each principal, most likely by phone or email, to include them in, and be open about, the progress of my research.  
  • Giving students access to me outside of class time, for questions and queries, is vital to the well-being of each individual. For example, if a student doesn't wish to be a part of the study any longer, and has to wait a week before seeing me again, they become more and more stressed and anxious. - I will make sure that each participant has my mobile number and email address, probably on the front page of their diary, so that they can contact me as and when they want to.
  • Although a verbal 'briefing' still feels like the most interpersonal way to involve and engage my participants I can see now, thanks to the conversation I had with Paula, that I need to provide clear, take-home instructions with the diary. This will help (1) by allowing me to reflect back on my original proposal, through the lens of new knowledge and insight, so as to remind me, or clarify for me, exactly what it is that I am inquiring about, and (2) give my students something to take home and refer to if they forget, or can't quite understand, what exactly it is I am asking them to do. Both of these things should thus enable the collection of data that is of most relevance to my inquiry - I will create a clear and concise document, to be given out to each participant with their diary, that will shape and direct entries yet without leading or restricting self-expression. I aim to do this by asking individuals to write in their diaries before and after lessons about particular emotional and motivational experiences of, and any thoughts about, each particular class.
  • Adjusting interview times, from my original 30minute advisement to 15/20minutes, may yield a more positive feeling about the process, with students given the option to extend their slot if they want to. - When arranging student interview times I will suggest that they will be needed for about 20 minutes but that it could be extended or shortened slightly, dependent on their feeling at the time. This will, I believe, also give each participant a greater feeling of control over proceedings.
  • Allowing students to choose the location for their interview, i.e. empty studio, quiet side room or changing room, should encourage a more confident, relaxed atmosphere to the interview. - I will aim, when arranging interview slots (see above) attempt to offer participants a choice, albeit limited, of venue.
Alongside all the preparatory stages identified above, something that now really rings clear for me is:
  • Ensuring that I build research into my practice so that there is professional development alongside this inquiry. - After data collection and during/ after analysis I will aim to continually reflect on any findings and try to incorporate them into my practice as ongoing practitioner development.

I'm sure that there will be many, many more developments as the week(s) progress but I am keen to focus my immediate attention on the initial stages of my inquiry - the data collection phase - as I realise that this is vital to the overall success of my research and to my ability to take inquiry forward into my professional practice.
I'm also very aware of the need to keep doing this reflection and analysis throughout the whole of the coming months so that, through further consideration and continued awareness, I am able to keep anticipating, understanding, and dealing with, the constant flux and development of my inquiry, without losing sight of its origins.

I'm excited to set sail into the, as yet, unknown, to develop stronger SIG bonds and to draw on, and share, our combined expertise and insight.

Bon Voyage, everyone!


BAPP (ARTS) Reader 7 Professional Inquiry WBS3760. 2012. [e-book] London: School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning. pp. 1-23. Available through: Middlesex University [Accessed: 3 Sep 2013].

BAPP WBS3760 Handbook. (2012). [e-book] London: School of Media and Performing Arts Institute for Work Based Learning. pp. 1-22. Available through: Middlesex University [Accessed: 3 Sep 2013].

Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion. 4th ed. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Robinson, S. (2013). Further considerations. BAPP, [blog] 19th August, Available at: [Accessed: 5 Sep 2013].

Robinson, S. (2013). Further, further considerations. BAPP, [blog] 19th August, Available at: [Accessed: 5 Sep 2013].

Robinson, S. (2013). Laying the path - part two. BAPP, [blog] 17th August, Available at: [Accessed: 5 Sep 2013].

Toates, F. (1986). Motivational systems. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press.