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,
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] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tvFWpCEhcrywodfXDphFJEPrhP9a61EZuDMyitbgMlM/edit?usp=sharing [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013]
Robinson, S. 2013. Light bulb!. BAPP, [blog] 27th September 2013, Available at: http://seraclops.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/light-bulb.html [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013].
Robinson, S. 2013. Unintentional interventional!. BAPP, [blog] 14th October 2013, Available at: http://seraclops.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/unintentional-interventional.html [Accessed: 18 Oct 2013].