Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Update #2

My second update is intended to not only motivate myself with the progress since the last update (blog post here) but to keep putting my current thoughts, ideas and discoveries into a coherent form.

I've managed to re-arrange my 11th interview (of twelve) for tomorrow morning. It is the only interview that will take place outside of the dance school environment so I have spent today reflecting (in my journal) about any extra ethical considerations that might be raised from this new location.

The campus session yesterday with Peter Thomas was invaluable in thinking about issues regarding my professional artifact - namely how I could include my students voices within it whilst maintaining anonymity/ confidentiality and reconcile this with the audience my artifact is aimed at - (dance) teachers. It has left me with such a renewed optimism of how these aims might be achieved that I spent most of last night trialing a template from a free website-producing company ( in an attempt to see how feasible it might be to produce what I want in the time-frame I have.
N.B. I am still not decided on the artifact, as I want the data/ analysis to come forward before I limit its direction/ format, but I know that time is going to be a major factor with an inquiry of this kind, hence trialing possible methods in a study of feasibility.

Transcribing my interviews as I have gathered them has worked really well as I feel that I haven't lost any of the nuances of the individual events - both mine and the participants. I am also glad that I 1) chose interview as a method and 2) decided to transcribe by hand, rather than let software take the strain, as I feel closer to the data already, and, given the sheer amount of what I have, it has already begun to suggest potential codes, categories and themes.

Moving forward in this, the fifth, week I am looking to begin analysis in earnest. Three things have happened in the last 24 hours to start me off:
  1. I was particularly interested in delving a little deeper into coding after reading Jessica Hay's blog post Provisional codes with initial and in vivo codes, which looked so alien to me that I felt I needed to take time to understand the concept.
  2. I took the opportunity yesterday, whilst on campus, to seek out some books in the Sheppard Library and that I thought might help me in my analysis.
  3. Having read a little deeper into the 'how to' of analysing qualitative data I took my first steps forward this afternoon with a trial of several different techniques to see whether they are appropriate to my data. I hope to blog about these techniques when I have had a little longer to reflect on them.
I have begun throwing thoughts down into a word document that may develop into the Introduction for my Critical Review. Initially I found myself drying up after less than a couple of paragraphs but, using a technique, which was suggested by Peter Thomas (and borrowed from Peter Elbow) of generative writing (see description here). I just kept forcing myself to come up with more words. It worked! However, whether any of it makes it to the final edit I don't know but I feel that just by starting the ball rolling I am more likely to continue with it over the coming weeks.

I am still on track with my original schedule but I know that the next three or four weeks are going to require a lot of self-discipline and focus to keep up with not just the data analysis but the development of the Critical Review and the Professional Artifact. I'm sure Paula Nottingham had a visual image about 'coping' - I think I might need that to be blown up, printed out and posted above my work space!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Clearing the cobwebs away

I've decided to take today to get out and about, enjoy the sunshine while it was still around and not get dragged down by the fact that the clocks went back yesterday. As my friends will tell you, I am not a fan of the darker months and tend to go into hibernation/ dormant mode when it comes to socialising and even leaving the house becomes something I try hard to limit!

So, as suggested by Paula's blog about enjoying the Autumn (Nottingham, 2013) and after reading Emily Hunt's blog about how Autumn is probably her favourite season (Hunt, 2013), I thought I'd post a couple of photos I took today:

Burnham Beeches, Slough
27th October 2013

Having cleared away the cobwebs from my brain I'm looking forward to starting week six with a renewed energy.
I'm really looking forward to the campus session on Tuesday as I always find them really helpful, as well as being a nice way to connect with people on the BAPP course.
I am planning to spend tomorrow doing my latest  interview transcript (two of my participants have had to be rearranged for after the half term due to illness and indisposition) so that I am on track with my proposed schedule. Then, after the session on Tuesday, I will begin the process of analysing the data that I have.

I feel pleased that I have been thinking of ideas for my professional artifact before doing any analysis as I'm hoping that the data will then push one idea to the forefront as being the most suitable for what it is saying.
I will also need to spend some time considering things like 1) the time scale I have in which to create the artifact, 2) the cost of creating the artifact and 3) the potential audience - although this has already been on my radar (see my blog: Some early thoughts on the professional artifact)


Hunt, E. 2013. another campus session catch up.... BA (Hons) Professional Practice (Arts) blog, [blog] 27 October 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 27 Oct 2013].

Nottingham, P. 2013. Paula Nottingham. [blog] Available at: [Accessed: 25 Oct 2013]

Friday, 25 October 2013

Blog #112, or why I should probably take the bus!

Well, it looks like this week is a week for unplanned car-based thinking!

I was on my way home from an interview this evening and decided to listen to a podcast instead of the radio to while away the journey time.
It was a live recording of a Kevin Smith Q&A at Star Wars Celebration VI (OK, it's finally out - I'm a sci-fi geek and all-round slacker film fan) and I was happily smirking along until a comment at the end made my brain kick into gear. Mr Smith, a podcast devotee himself, was urging people to set up their own podcasts because he believes that everyone has something unique to share (Smith, 2012, closing comments)
For some reason this is what my brain did with that sentiment:
  1. Podcast, hmmmmm....professional artifact?
  2. Kevin Smiths podcasts are ongoing...
  3. Is my current thinking about the professional artifact limited by my idea of producing 'a thing,' i.e. a finished item to present?
  4. Does a finished 'thing' have any benefit to my practice or my audience? Short term, perhaps, but for future development...?
  5. Should I widen my scope to thinking about perhaps podcast, forum, blog, website that allows people to connect and share...
  6. By placing a full stop around my professional artifact am I, in fact, saying 'that's it, all done'? 
  7. Do I mean that? No. This inquiry is only the first step towards creating a more motivational environment for my students, at present and in the future.
Then I arrived home!

So, the up shot of all this is that I am going to consider an ongoing artifact that it may, or may not, be possible to create within the limited time frame for this inquiry. However, what I do know for sure, now, is that it would be more representative of the topic and it's application to practice - the need for continual interaction, understanding, reflection, and development - than a static artifact that presents a fait accomplie when it comes to motivating students.

Oh lordy! I've just thought...I've got a long drive to, and from, work, tomorrow. My apologies in advance for any blogging that might occur.


Be advised - sexual content and strong language in this podcast may cause offence
Smith, K. 2012. Smodcast #221: Orlando Calrissian. Smodcast. [podcast] August 29 2012. Available at: [Accessed: 25 Oct 2013].

Condensation (of the wordy kind)

In Blake's blog, Campus Session, she writes about how everyone was asked to say what their inquiry was about 'in one or two sentences' (Curtis-Woodcock, 2013).
I decided to have a go!

My inquiry is a very personal one that aims to better understand motivation in dance students, through their own words, experiences and perceptions, with the purpose of developing more effective strategies for enhancing this motivation in the future.

Whadda ya think!!!

A moment of clarity?!

(picture source:

I came across this just now and it seems to sum up where my head is at this morning!
  • What exactly should my inquiry title be to accurately represent the data
  • Why would people find my inquiry useful
  • How do I present the data, i.e. as professional artifact, so as to reduce misunderstanding and misrepresentation

A journal entry made late last night was concerned with the development of my inquiry from it's proposal stage, and the fact that my proposed title:

There's no such word as can't: Student perspectives on motivation in the dance class

doesn't really seem to reflect where my data and literature is taking me. So instead I am thinking of something along the following lines:

Dance student perspectives on motivation: a study of the highs and lows
I still want to represent any 'findings' from the students perspective but I think that the dual meaning of the second half of this possible title represents a) the differing levels and types of student motivations, i.e. their intrinsic/ extrinsic motives for attending dance lessons, and b) the fact that these motivations can go up or down due to external events.
I realise that the title is perhaps something of little importance in the grand scheme of things but it is my way of condensing the 'what' of my inquiry so that I am certain of its purpose.
I was never going to be able to define the parameters of my inquiry accurately in my proposal due to the nature of my topic area and methodology and recognise that, even at this stage, it is still a work in progress, but I think that this has made things clearer in my mind as to where this inquiry is taking me. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013


You know when you don't really think you've been thinking about something, then someone else triggers you with a word or thought, then something else pops up that creates a whole stream of consciousness? Yeah. Well, that was me earlier!

I was so very glad that I'd been interviewing this evening as I had my voice recorder to hand, although I'm not sure about the rules for voice-recording and driving!

I shall try to organise what I taped into something people other than myself might understand. Here goes,

It all started whilst reading Blake's blog - Campus Session. In it she talks about 'presenting my artifact audio visually' and how being dyslexic this offers her an interesting solution (Curtis-Woodcock, 2013). This got me thinking, and commenting, about my own professional artifact and how I had, up until that point, been focusing on my potential audience in terms of their professional practice and not about their needs as individuals, i.e. the accessibility of my artifact.

OK. So that makes sense, right!

Then, on the way home from a student interview about 2 hours ago, I happened to tune in to an advert that was playing on my car radio (normally I just tune them out!). It was for the R.A.F. and the voice said something like "My name is ...... and my motivation to join the R.A.F. is..." This immediately made me think the following:
  • audio, with text, would be accessible to more of my audience than words alone
  • student voices, which I really want to include but have been struggling with how to maintain anonymity and confidentiality, could be 'heard', for example,
  • "My name is Holly and my motivation to come to dance lessons is that I like to keep fit and healthy"
    (with names of flowers/ shrubs - like Holly, Fleur, Rose, Pink, etc - to protect anonymity and confidentiality)
  • couple this with an animated graphic or the words popping up onto the screen and I could include a visual aspect to the artifact.
  • lead on from these 'quotes' by talking (with graphics - words or images) about the teacher's need to understand what motivates, or doesn't motivate, students.
OK. So, is everyone still with me? I hope so. Last bit, I promise.

These two events have, through assimilation and verbal reasoning (into my voice recorder), lead me to another interesting discovery; my inquiry has two distinctive, but linked, aspects:
  1. The discovery of the individual and uniquely combined motivations of my participants, and
  2. How these combinations are uniquely affected by the events within the class, i.e. participant 1 is affected by event B more than event C due to her intrinsic/ extrinsic motivations W, Y and Z, whereas participant 2 is affected by event C but not B, and really affected by event D, due to her intrinsic/ extrinsic motivations X, Y and Z.
All of which (nearly there, I promised didn't I) gives me both a feeling of cohesion to my inquiry (improving student motivation) but also a need to represent it as two separate, although intrinsically linked, aspects (needing to understand your student before you can hope to motivate them effectively).

Phew! I think I might switch off for the rest of the evening now!

I'd really love you to comment about my ramblings though, particularly about if you think I'm,
a) talking nonsense,
b) making some sense but need to keep thinking, or
c) have a good idea that is worth developing!



Curtis-Woodcock, B. 2013. Campus Session. Blake's Blogs, [blog] 24th October 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 24 Oct 2013].

Sorry for the delay, Emily!

A few days ago Emily Hunt left me a comment on my blog Narrowing Down that read:
With different types of motivation, do you feel the teachers approach could be a key one? (Hunt, 2013)
It's something that I was all ready to agree with but then I couldn't quite organise what I wanted to say coherently until I remembered this article I found in September: (Biolchini, 2013).

The section that linked in my mind to Emily's comment is from Wendy Rothman - a teacher at Mitchell Elementary School - who, according to the article 'spoke first in a reflective address to remind teachers that how they talk to their students and arrange their classroom has a major impact on how a student's day and school year goes' (Rothman in Biolchini, 2013). The example she then gives shows how motivation can be changed with the flick of a switch. I know for sure that there are times when no sooner have I opened my mouth, I wish I hadn't, and the reaction/ action of the pupil on the receiving end is something that tends to stay with me for a long time. An occasional slip might not be too damaging, or might it?

In my data collection so far I have been aware of the numerous occasions that interviewees have spoken about how the manner in which the teacher deals with the day-to-day of dance class occurrences has a big impact on the motivation of those students within that class. The area seems broad, and I am using both student voice and theory here, but includes such things as: negative feedback (Buckroyd, 2000), correction without explanation (Participant 004, 2013), controlling rather than autonomy developing (Reeve, 2005), shouting at students in front of others (Participant 008, 2013), negative comparison (Participant 005 and 007, 2013), learning binds (Schon, 1987), ignoring students (Participant 012, 2013), and more. However, a common theme seems to be evident here - the basic principle of how you communicate with your students - both verbally and non-verbally, intentionally or unintentionally - and how the student understands this communication; alternatively put, the intra-personal relationship between teacher and pupil.

So, this would suggest it is more of a state of mind than a case of think before you speak. Is the root of using language more about the teacher's perspective? By which I mean:
  • if the teacher values the student there is less likelihood of students feeling ignored or negatively compared to others,
  • if the teacher appreciates the psychological needs of the individual (Reeve, 2005) then she is more likely to be able to tailor the comment/ event/ experience within the class to suit the student,
Cos I can either be really open with my emotions  or really inside so often teachers...and when I’m getting angry they often think I’m just being, like, attitude-y or sulky but it’s not that it’s, just, like, my frustration (Participant 003, 2013)
  • if the teacher builds a relationship with the student built on cooperation rather than seeking to control (Reeve, 2005) or create a win/lose model (Schon, 1987) then the student will not experience the loss of autonomy (Reeve, 2005),
  • if the teacher provides the reasoning behind feedback, or rationale that is informational (Reeve, 2005), then the student is more likely to see the worth of doing something,
  • if the teacher understands what 'drives' the student then they will more likely to provide every individual with the level of challenge that they need within the class (Criss, 2011).

I have also been quite amazed by the 'teacher knows everything' comments that I have heard during interview.
That's a potentially fatal combination isn't it... A teacher who uses language without care or consideration plus a student who believes the teacher is always right. Consider the following examples:
"My teacher tells me I'm not good enough" - well, my teacher must be right because she knows everything.
"My teacher doesn't like me she never says anything nice to me" - well, I can't be very nice then because, again, my teacher is always right.

So now I feel ready to respond; here goes, Emily!
Not only does a good teacher need to be able to reflect on and understand the power of her words but she also needs to understand the motivations, personality traits, psychological needs, and past experiences, that each student is composed of - like those children's books where you could give the policeman the legs of a frogman! In short, Emily, my answer is, yes, the teacher needs to match the way of communicating with the individual!


Biolchini, A. 2013. Motivation for success: Ann Arbor teachers share insights with their peers. The Ann Arbour News, [blog] 3rd Septmber 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 23 Oct 2013].

Buckroyd, J. 2000. The student dancer. London: Dance.

Criss, E. 2011. Dance All Night: Motivation in Education. Music Educators Journal, 97 (3), pp. 61-66. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd October 2013].

Participant 003. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 17th October 2013

Participant 004. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 10th October 2013.

Participant 005. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 18th October 2013.

Participant 007. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 21st October 2013.

Participant 008. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 15th October 2013.

Participant 012. 2013. BAPP inquiry interview. Interviewed by Sarah Robinson [in person] 21st October 2013.

Reeve, J. 2005. Understanding Motivation and Emotion. 4th ed. London: Wiley and Sons.

Schön, D. 1987. Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Share and share alike

I follow Betty Wells blog and saw she had posted a video clip in one of her latest posts about motivating boys to dance. I clicked the link and watched the clip, which was really interesting, then decided to have a wander around the rest of the website. I found this clip:

Watching it I found several words and phrases resonating with my current thinking and my inquiry so far:

'competition'                   'comparison'
               'concentrating on being better than them'
              self-conscious                    'choice'

 'for themselves'                 'student voice is really important'

                  'got something out of it'  


                                                                                             (, 2013)

The video clip focuses on the whole P.E. curriculum for girls, which includes dance, but I can already see parallels with the data that I have been collecting for my own inquiry.
Motivation in learning, therefore, would seem to be something that crosses over all of the students' education and an area that needs awareness and understanding by all teachers irrespective of their subject area(s).

Thank-you to Betty for posting the link, which lead me (through interaction and sharing) to find something relevant to my own inquiry.



Wells, B. 2013. 'Boys don't Dance' an inspirational video. Betty Wells BAPP, [blog] 21 October 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 23 Oct 2013]. 2013. Education videos and resources for professional development. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 23 Oct 2013].

Friday, 18 October 2013


So, it's the third week of the Uni. term, and I'm keen to keep pushing myself and staying on track, so I thought I'd construct this blog about where I am, where I am going and anything that has given me cause for reflection along the way. My aim is to(1) go over things in my own mind before committing them to text, thereby giving myself a more constructed, and constructive, look at the things that have been and gone and (2) take things forward, both in planning and executing, by using what I have learnt or gained, from this reflection, and hope to avoid/ improve in the future.

I am now five interviews in to my twelve, and still thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. I can honestly say that each participant has given 110% of themselves to this inquiry (for which I am thrilled and thankful) - in the diaries that I've had back, the responses that I've been given to questions in interviews, the feedback after interviews, the time willingly given to participate - and I feel very inspired and motivated myself and determined to do my utmost to represent my students to the very best of my ability.

As each interview has come along I feel that I have improved in my ability to fit a 're-cap' in to each stage of the questioning, with a verbal explanation of why to each participant, so that I can clarify what has been said before as a tool to reduce misunderstanding or misinterpretation later on - for example, when transcribing or during analysis.

I have been transcribing interviews as soon as I possibly can so that I am still fresh in my mind about the event. I did think long and hard about using transcription software, both in the proposal stage and again after my initial interview took place but the following points made me decide to do it myself:
  • Reviews of transcription software (unless very, very expensive) suggest that they can really only cope with one voice at a time and struggle with over-lapping conversations,
  • Reviews of transcription software suggest that all transcripts need to be double-checked for accuracy anyway, and
  • My accuracy in the analysis of data stage relies on having a good grasp on the nuances and context of each piece of data so by transcribing things myself and having to listen again and again (and again) to the dialogue this surely means that not only do I get accuracy in capturing the correct words but also the meanings behind those words by really 'hearing' what my student are saying,
I am pleased that in my initial proposal (Robinson, 2012, pp.2-3) I had considered the length of time it would take to gather data (from collating through to transcribing), and take time to plan gathering data from the very start of the school term, as I am now able to feel that, although there is a lot to do I have allowed myself sufficient time to do it in!

When I have finished transcribing an interview I am then printing it out and making hand written notes on it that help to contextualise the conversation and to add more depth and understanding to the text. For example, in one interview you can hear a 'bang.' By noting in the relevant place in the text that this was the interviewee striking the table top with their hand to add emphasis to a point I will keep the emotion behind the thought rather than just the thought itself.

I have also been reading around my topic area of motivation - gathering some interesting new knowledge and insight into the theories and concepts behind the subject. I had come across several points that I felt might of great use for the analysis stage of my inquiry but even after doing less than half the interviews I have realised that, by thinking ahead, I am in danger of trying to 'fit' the data to the theory. AHHHHHHHHH! Something I definitely do not want to do! In other words, I currently feel that by 'knowing' I have almost stopped 'inquiring!'
One reason that this came to light is that I had come across an idea about autonomy, competence and relatedness (Reeve, 2005, pp. 101 - 129), which I felt might be a useful concept in my inquiry analysis - see blog post Light bulb! (Robinson, 2013). I now realise that the data I collect will cover a much, much broader area than will fit neatly into these three ideas. So instead of constructing my analysis through just these three I will need to have a much broader knowledge-base to work from - things like value, intrinsic/ extrinsic, feedback - in the initial stages of analysis, which may or may not lead to a tighter grouping of ideas as I get further into things.
N.B. This is obviously not an intentional state of mind but, by becoming aware of it in the early stages, I feel more confident that I will not pigeon-hole my data (and therefore, by extension, my students) into existing theoretical constructs. I am not saying that I won't be using theory to aid analysis but it will be the data that tells me the direction of growth, not existing knowledge.

I am resisting the urge to 'peek' into diaries at this point in time as I feel that the diary and transcript should be treated as parts of the whole rather than in isolation. Obviously I will need to read the diary of each individual but, by reading them alongside the interview transcript, I will gain a much clearer picture of the individual, their motivations and the main factors that affect this.

So, where do I go from here?
Well, the plan is now:
Week 4/5 - finish interviewing, collect remaining diaries, and finish transcribing so that all data is in an organised and user-friendly form. Carry on with further reading and reviewing of literature. Keep noting down ideas for professional artifact.
Week 5/6 - start reviewing and analysing data in isolation - looking for key ideas, words, thoughts and experiences within individual data. Carry on with further reading and reviewing of literature. Keep noting down ideas for professional artifact.
Week 6/7 - begin to analyse data as a more unified whole - identifying areas of commonality, strength of feeling/ experience and unique data. Carry on with further reading and reviewing of literature. Keep noting down ideas for professional artifact.
Week 7/8 - categorise data into groups (if this is possible) using existing research, theories, concepts, etc. Keep noting down ideas for professional artifact.
Week 8/9 - think about starting Critical Reflection and propose more concrete ideas for professional artifact after seeing 'what' inquiry findings are and identifying 'who' inquiry audience might be.
Weeks 9-12 - creating Critical Reflection, artifact and oral presentation.

I have overlapped in weeks 4 - 9 as I don't think anything will be as cut and dried as 'do this then' so I want to allow myself that leeway of spilling into the next week so as to avoid setting impossible deadlines or creating stress!

One final thought that seems to be in my mind at the moment is that I am, for once, happy not to be entirely in control of this situation; the data will be whatever it will be and by planning too far in advance of it (see paragraph 7-9) I am in very real danger of, to use a metaphor, answering the question before it has even been asked. This inquiry is not 'to get a right answer,' it about improving my professional practice and through that, the experiences of my students. As I have already mentioned in my post Unintentional interventional! (Robinson, 2013), there have been small changes already and I am eager to welcome further development and growth over the next few weeks (and beyond!).


Reeve, J. 2005. Understanding Motivation and Emotion. 4th ed. London: Wiley and Sons.

Robinson, S. 2012 Professional Inquiry Proposal. [google.doc] [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013]

Robinson, S. 2013. Light bulb!. BAPP, [blog] 27th September 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013].

Robinson, S. 2013. Unintentional interventional!. BAPP, [blog] 14th October 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013].

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Professional artifact - another possibility

The link above shows a page from the Bright Knowledge website, which is powered by It gives 5 tips for students to help finding their own motivation to study.

I like the 'friendly' look of the page and the non-technical language used, which makes it feel more accessible to all. The little pictures create a more easy-on-the-eye format, rather than just text, text, text, and I thought the way the information was broken down and kept to-the-point made it quick and easy to browse and I wasn't put off by the amount of reading I was expected to do.
The related links at the end also seemed to be a really good way to find out more without cramming too much on the page.

After my initial reading of the page, I did the following:
  1. Changed the title, in my mind, to 'Learn to motivate your students,'
  2. Started to re-word the opening statement - So, you're looking at your class of teenagers, but no matter how hard you try you just can't seem to find a way to get them motivated...,
  3. then carried on - so you find some students can be motivated more readily than others, whilst some students seem permanently disengaged. If this is you, then you need to find out what motivates them...,
  4. I then began to see how tips for teachers could be listed as suggestions under, perhaps, motivational concepts or theory.
  5. Finally, I thought of including as a final tip 'Talk to your students, after all they are the best informed when it comes to what they need in order to feel more motivated.'
Again, early days yet but ideas for my professional artifact seems to be popping up at me from all different directions at the moment.

Any thoughts? They'd be helpful, particularly if you are teaching dance to adolescents, as your opinion will really help me shape my artifact to fit my potential audience.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Unintentional interventional!

When speaking to Paula earlier in the year, she talked about 'interventions' as a possible inclusion in my inquiry - to put into (professional) practice what had been discovered in data collection/ analysis in a specially created situation.
I was intrigued by the idea but didn't consider including it in my plan due to limited time and access to both students and, along with a tight deadline to meet.
However I've since read further into my topic area, and done two student interviews, and, although my reasoning still stands, I have already noticed (tonight in particular) a slightly altered approach to my classes. In particular I've noticed:
  1. being more aware of/ better at spotting and understanding students' motives and needs at that particular time,
  2. spending more time planning classes to incorporate what I now know about motivation theory and concepts in tandem with what I want my students to learn,
  3. a more considered approach to dealing with inappropriate behaviour, i.e. looking for the possible reasons behind an action or response not just dealing with the behaviour in isolation, and
  4. a slightly disconcerting way of stepping outside of myself to see how I might come across to my students, i.e. whether there is any difference between what I am aiming to do and what my students experience!
So, from the point of view of bringing inquiry into, and developing, practice I can honestly say that, even in these early stages, I'm making unintentional interventions (hence the post title), albeit in small, un-advertised ways.

What this ultimately achieves, or what downside there might be, will be way beyond the scope of this inquiry but, as is the nature of inquiry, it was never going to be a definite conclusion to a single question but an ongoing process of developing, questioning, reflecting, planning, trialing, developing, questioning, reflecting...


Take two interview recordings into the weekend? No, I just transcribe and go!

(Apologies for the blog title!)

So, last week saw a big progression from the 'planning my interview' stage to the 'get out there and do it' stage!
I'm so glad that I had taken the time and care to structure, plan and develop my questions - thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to comment, discuss, lend me their ears - as I really feel the initial two interviews went well; the students were so generous with what they shared and the passion with which they spoke that I feel quite honoured and humbled...

After the first interview I came straight home and started transcribing the audio recording. I had two main reasons for doing this (and also a reason for not using software to do it):
  1. I wanted to be able to reflect on how every aspect of the interview had gone, including the recording of the data, before the second interview so that I could fine tune any issues
  2. I wanted to be able to be able to add any non-verbal aspects of the interview to the data as soon as possible so that I didn't lose any aspect of the student's input - enthusiasm, nerves, posture, hand gestures, etc.
  3. I felt that by listening over and over again to the words, rather than relying on a piece of software to do it, I would gain a better understanding of exactly what the student was trying to say - the sentiment behind the words, if you like - which, given the wealth of data I imagine I shall be amassing, feels like the best way to get past the shallow surface of the conversations.
With both interviews transcribed now - with participant numbers assigned to help ensure consistent, methodical storage and analysis - and with hand written notes added from what was not said (including some very passionate table banging and some moments of hilarity!), I feel that I am really on my way in this module.
I have four interviews this week, followed by five the following week and one over half term, which makes me really pleased that I planned my inquiry to start as soon as the term started as I think it is going to take me all of half term to get the data ready for analysis.

Now I just need to find time to develop my analytical skills and I'll be fine!!!!!


Thursday, 10 October 2013

First interview - the preperation

Today sees the first scheduled interview with one of my inquiry participants. I am both excited and a little nervous as it's the end of the practice, trial, reflection and development phase and into the actual!

I have been careful to schedule students in with as little disruption to their routine as possible, fitting most students in around their breaks down at the studio. I have also made sure to create a working planner of dates, my working hours, and names to ensure that I have incorporated everybody in the run up to half term.
I have also confirmed, or will be confirming in the next couple of days, each participants interview date and time to give them the opportunity to re-schedule if no longer convenient. And also to remind them!
There is only one student, currently, that is unable to fit in anything round her classes so I have arranged to visit her over the half term and take up residence in a quiet room for the duration of the interview.

I have taken time over the last couple of days to trial, reflect and refine my interview questions (my blog Narrowing things down shows the previous draft questions I had developed, and why). I have reduced the amount of questions from seven to six (time was a factor during trial) and created two sections with a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the questions. Here is a link to my proposed interview format:
I hope to have most of this internalised but want to keep a copy handy in case I have a moment of panic or go blank!

In Section 2 the questions 2a. and 2b. are an 'either/ or' situation. If the student is struggling to find or verbalise a response to question 1. then I hope that the fantasy nature of question 2a. might help. For those students who feel happy in their ability to answer question 1. I will give them the opportunity to attach 'teacher significance' to their responses using A4 paper and marker pens (question 2b.).

I feel particularly happy about breaking down the interview into two sections - each themed to a different aspect of motivation - as I believe this will give a structure and purpose to the interview and also provide the participants with a reason for being asked the questions.

My final preparation has been to organise my voice recorder - checking it's batteries and settings for the millionth time - and collect my notebook, pens and pencils.
I have already organised the first page of my notebook with the participant number of my first interviewee (to allow me to connect the correct diary to the interview notes) and will also add this number to the start of the recording (for the same reason). I have also added the date and will do this to the digital recording too.
Nowhere have I made any reference to name of student or anything that might link the data to the student in question.

It'll be great to see what happens after all this planning. What is the old cliche? Isn't it 'never work with children or animals' 13 - 16year old student participants count?!


Monday, 7 October 2013

Some early thoughts on the professional artefact

Yesterday, whilst looking through some literature online I came across something in the Trinity Laban Report, Passions, Pathways and Potential in Dance, which can be accessed here, that piqued my interest regarding the professional artefact.
N.B. Several examples can be seen throughout this report but the first one that I came across, and which started my mental ball rolling, is on page 27 of the report.

The reason it caught my eye is that, although I don't know what my 'findings' are going to be yet, the page clearly sets out the theory/ concept alongside the practical application or possible strategy for achieving the desired outcome.

This linked in my mind to a conversation I had, back in the summer holidays, with two teacher friends of mine, on the topic of how to present information in a useful way. One friend suggested a CD-Rom that she had, which gave practical advice but also had links to more academic literature so that there was the opportunity to delve deeper if so desired. The other teacher friend was reminded of a set of 'flashcards' that she had, which compartmentalised information on a particular topic area into smaller, more manageable chunks - something that she found useful because she could easily just pick out the most relevant card rather than wading through masses of data.

Both teachers suggest that having small amounts of information at their fingertips was helpful on a day-to-day basis but that being able to look deeper or wider into topics, when time or particular interest arose, was also important. So, perhaps this is something to bear in mind when creating my professional artefact.

Food for thought, again.

Let me know what you feel might be a useful tool for practical purposes so that I can add it to the suggestions above. Perhaps you feel a visual representation of some kind might work better for you? Or a combination of pictures and text?



Redding, E., Nordin-Bates, S. and Walker, I. 2011. Passion, pathways and potential in dance. An interdisciplinary longitudinal study into dance talent development.. [report].
Available at: [Accessed 7 Oct 2013]

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Narrowing things down

So, my topic area of motivation is a broad one. Even my working inquiry title - 'There's no such word as can't: student experiences of motivation in the dance class' - leaves itself wide open to a whole host of possible areas for analysis. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem if I had all the time, and resources, in the world but, as all us Module 3'ers are aware, we only have a very, very limited time!

Today, I have been thinking hard about the next stage of my data collection - the interview. What's that got to do with the opening paragraph, I hear you cry! OK, let me explain...

1) In order to gather useful data I need to be specific in what questions I include in my interview. However, to be able to do this I need,
2) to understand the particular aspect(s) of my broad topic that I am hoping to understand better and develop a deeper knowledge of through analysis.

My reading so far has lead me to two particularly interesting areas of motivation theory:
1) The psychological needs of i) autonomy, ii) competence, and iii) relatedness, and
2) Intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and the Self-Determination theory.

The psychological needs present a trio of basic human priorities, that of free-will or choice, the ability to achieve, and a feeling of belonging and value (Reeve, 2005, chapter 5). These three desires need to be satisfied in order for the individual to feel motivated to continue on with what she is doing - in my inquiry case: attending a dance lesson.

The type of motivation - amotive, intrinsic, extrinsic (Ryan & Deci, 2000) - that a person (in the case of my inquiry, the student) functions from is important as it will also affect how the external factors of the dance class are perceived and also what effect they will have on raising or lowering levels of motivation (Reeve, 2005, chapter 6).

If I take these into consideration as two areas of analysis then this gives me a framework for my interview sessions, and, of course, for the direction in which my diary analysis will go too. But back to the interview:
Start with a thank-you for helping with inquiry and check that participant is still happy to be interviewed. Clarify again that I would like to record the interview, would they be happy with this? Also that I will be possibly making a few notes as I listen to them, and explain why.

1) How long have you been dancing? (start with easy, closed question to get ball rolling)
2) How many lessons a week do you attend, or how many hours a week do you dance? (see above)
3) Why do you take dance lessons? (opens up the topic area - hopefully leading to a discovery of students motivations)
4) Do you think this has always been the reason for coming to class or has this changed or developed over the last x amount of years? (quite a sophisticated question but, with careful explanation, I hope to discover whether motivation changed from extrinsic - mum made me - to intrinsic - but now I really love it, and perhaps at what age (roughly)
5) What do you feel are the main causes of increased/ decreased motivation in your dance classes? (allow them to skim diaries if it helps to jog memory but hopefully the really important aspects will come straight to mind)
5a) Did you expect to be more, or less, motivated than you were? Why do you think this is?(only ask if participant is struggling to answer Q.5)
6) What did you find interesting, or hard, or funny,or x, about writing in your diary? (may gain insight into surprises or unexpected self-realisation by student - could lead to verbalising a really important aspect of their dance motivation experiences)
7) Then either ask fantasy question like "If I gave you a magic wand to create the most motivational dance lesson you could, what would you do?" (Robinson, 2013) or use a physical task such as scribbling on post-it notes the students answers to question 5 and then placing them in order of importance on a large piece of paper.

This is, of course, a work in progress but as, in the interest of keeping to schedule, I've already got most of my interviews timetabled in for before the half term I really need to perfect this list of questions by the middle of the week!
Any thoughts, comments, criticisms, etc, as always, would be gratefully received. I also hope to trial these questions out on one lucky victim...I mean volunteer, to get an idea of whether they might work or not. Would anyone be willing to help out?



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

Robinson, S. 2013. It's all a question of questions! BAPP, [blog] 22nd April 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 6 Oct 2013].
Ryan, R. & Deci, E. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78. American Psychological Association.

Friday, 4 October 2013


So I was trying to organising my documents just now with two main aims: (1) to be able to find things more easily and (2) to group useful articles together; some of the articles are recent discoveries, some filed way back in February/ March (as I was working through possible inquiry topics).
Those articles found back in the Spring have required a little memory jog as to what category they might best fit, and, in some cases, why on earth I had wanted to save them in the first place!

The reason for this blog then? Well, you might be relieved to hear that it's not just a tale about my laptop spring cleaning efforts!

This is the reason:
I perceive that most of the students who enroll in our program have chosen dance as a major avenue of expression because of a spiritual quest. By the time I have the opportunity to work with them, however, the spiritual aspect of their dancing has often receded. I perceive that they have mostly been trained from a quantitative point of view, that they have been asked to meet externally measurable, idealized standards—rather than having been encouraged to voyage inside their bodies and minds to discover what goals might be realistic and might help them function more effectively within themselves and in the world. (Evans, 1997, p.1)

The highlighted section, in particular, is my inspiration for this blog. After all, isn't this the question that is at the heart of my inquiry?

Examinations, end of term shows, competition dances - all these things make up a high-proportion of a lot of dancing school's agendas; the achievement of a good standard in order to gain a good grade, good performance, gold medal, etc.
Don't get me wrong, these are all good methods of improving skills, developing competence and extrinsically motivating students. However, that's not all there is to dance is it?
Isn't the journey both an outward and an inward one? Or rather, shouldn't it be?

I am suddenly aware of the concept drawing task given by Paula at the campus session (02/10/2013), where, when asked to draw a reperesentation of growth I drew something like this:

Where, in the lower shape, there is growth outward but also inwards.
 Light bulb!
My passion, interest, or, if you'll pardon my French, raison d'etre, as dance teacher, is clearly, therefore, to find a balance between the external factors placed upon me by the dance schools I work for, for example, assessment, achievement and status, and the personal desire to provide students with as much personal development/ growth as is possible.
My inquiry? Well, that is my opportunity to develop my understanding of how this might be achieved.
Phew! Fingers are almost steaming from the need to get that all out!
Evans, B. 1997. Teaching What I Want to Learn. [pdf] National Dance Association. Available through: [Accessed: 4 Oct 2013].

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Campus session 02/10/2013

Wednesday was the first campus session of the term. It was lead by Paula and Alan - with Paula taking the Module 2/3's and Alan the Module 1's after an initial meet, greet, ice-break and discussion.

Paula is my new tutor for this module and so it was really nice to be engaging and interacting with her alongside meeting old and new BAPPers.
There were six of us there who are embarking on Module 3 -
Clare Orlandi, Hayley Dixon, Melanie Brown, Mimi Whitney and Phil Carrol -
and although we are all engaged in varied inquiry topics it was really reassuring and supporting to see that most of us shared the same questions and concerns.

The major part of the session was spent relaying our respective inquiries paying particular attention to any changes, problems, developments since our initial proposal all those months ago. It was really helpful to have to organise and then vocalise what, I personally, have been thinking about but not managing to succinctly extract from my brain!
I am know much clearer in my mind about the vital need to constantly verbalise or transcribe my internal workings and deliberations.

There was a lot of positive discussions from fellow BAPPers - offers of help, 'oh, I've read a thing that might help you,' and support for each person's chosen topic area.

Paula had also put together a presentation, which is on her 3rd October blog here:
For me it is always helpful and more successful when I can have a visual to go with the information, and I found slides 18 and 19 has helped me to see how to break everything down into more manageable sections rather than PANIC!

There were also great 'inter-module' discussions and a couple of concept-drawing games that brought out ideas and strategies for identifying the personal aspect of everything that we are working through at the moment.

I am very sad that I am unable to attend the next session (due to work commitments) but I feel ready for what is to come, and I've even surprised myself as to the level of passion and excitement I have for my inquiry.

Good luck everyone!



Nottingham, P. 2013. Thursday, 3 October 2013. Paula Nottingham, [blog] 03/10/2013, Available at: [Accessed: 3 Oct 2013].

Thought on 'Thought for the day'

This blog is a reflection on my last blog - 'Thought for the day'

In my previous blog I suggested that perhaps intrinsic and extrinsic motivations were not overly relevant to my inquiry analysis as the effect of external events could be said to have the same outcome on both:
 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. (Robinson, 2013)

On further reflection (or more accurately by letting it roll around in my brain for a while) I think that perhaps this statement might only apply to reducing motivation; it doesn't matter where your motivation originates, intrinsic or extrinsic or both, it can all be diminished by negative environmental factors.
I think my focus was on the negative aspects of external factors because I am, in my daily practice, concerned about reducing, or removing, these from my classes. However, it is the purpose of my inquiry to gain a better understanding of what student's feel increases their motivation and it is this aspect of motivation that I will now consider relative to intrinsic and extrinsic desires.

So, if I have two hypothetical students - one is intrinsically motivated by a love of dance, and the other by a desire to improve and gain proficiency in examinations - then my approach to each student cannot be the same. Can it?
Student 1 might enjoy the freedom dance lessons give to explore and move, and the opportunity to gain a greater vocabulary of movement. Student 2, in contrast, might enjoy the focus on technical improvement and correction, and the feeling of perfecting a movement before moving on to another one.
If these two students are in the same class then the teacher will need to engage both students by understanding their psychological needs and planning the lesson to include aspects that satisfy both students.
Therefore, it could be said that in order to develop an inquiry such as my own, and the use it could have to professional practice (both my own and others), I should include aspects in my methodologies and analysis that look at motivating through the lense of the differing types of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Any thoughts?


Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion. 4th Ed. USA: John Wiley & Sons.
Robinson, S. 2013. Thought for the day. BAPP, [blog] 30th September, Available at: [Accessed: 3 Oct 2013].