As I've been reading I've been making notes, scribbling down thoughts, and gathering ideas into my journal. I want to share some of them on this post, but without any sense of artistry or refinement, so that not only will I be reflecting on them again in typing but will have an idea, through what I select and what I don't, of what is really important to me at this stage in the process.
1. 31st July 2013
To research confidently, ethically and with informed direction and content I need to understand three things,
Student perspectives on motivation in the dance class
Student - researching 'with' not 'on' (France, 2004), gaining trust and not making false claims (Kellett et al, 2004), eliciting true and honest responses from participants (Greene and Hill, 2005), maintaining the 3 P's - protect, provide, participate (Anderson, 2004), provide opportunity within the inquiry for meaningful experience that is relevant to all (Emond, 2005).
Perspectives - inform students (about inquiry, about their role, etc.), allow students to 'create' their interview so as to give maximum opportunity to voice experiences and thoughts - seeing student as social actor not passive recipient (Robinson and Kellett, 2004; Kellett et al, 2004; Fraser and Robinson, 2004), not imposing my ideas as to what should and shouldn't be included in the interview (Fraser, 2004), being aware of my own framing of what 'students' are - their competencies, understanding and value (Westcott & Littleton, 2005)
Motivation - What is it? Why is it important? Can it be enhanced and if so, how? (Sass, 1989; Stinson, 1992) How do I explain it to my students without adding in my interpretation or leading them along a particular way of thinking? Does my understanding of motivation (in particular within the framework of 'the dance class') have any bearing on my inquiry? - acknowledge awareness and accept any limitations.
N.B. The following 'scribblings' will reflect that I am, currently, still concerned with gaining as much knowledge as possible on how best to gather 'student perspectives' as I feel that unless I understand this aspect of my inquiry I will not be able to truly give my students the forum to voice their thoughts on, and experiences of, motivation within the dance class - thus rendering my inquiry valueless!
I will, of course, also need to develop my knowledge of motivation.
2. 29th July 2013 &12th August
- take paper, pens, etc. and ask how student would like to share experiences/ideas? - give control over to student taking power away from researcher...
- researcher asks questions? - thereby framing the data to be 'extracted' from the participants (Westcott & Littleton, 2005)
- researcher and participant create areas of discussion through negotiation and discourse? - trust is built between both parties, value is placed not only on what student has to say but however they feel it is best presented to the researcher.
- scatter diagrams/ white board on which to stick post-it notes? - more inclusive than just answering researchers questions or creating narrative accounts of experiences as it allows for shy or verbally insecure students input.
- read from diary? - might open the door to discourse and/ or jog memory of a particular feeling or event but could then be subject to hindsight and revision
- let student just talk about experiences? - takes researcher/ participant a step away from 'giving/ getting the right answer' but, depending on student, this might be nerve-wracking or lead to creation of fantasy or embellishment.
The design of my interview must involve thinking not only about student but about myself too, for example, what is my role within the interview? Am I 'looking for the correct answer to the right question?' Am I approaching my inquiry from the point of view of knowing better than my students or am I listening to each one as expert in their own life? (Westcott & Littleton, 2005).
In creating the right 'mood' for the interview perhaps a statement of my intentions, for example,
"I am asking you to help me with my research in the hopes that I will be able to:
- better understand, and
Then follow this up with, "What do you want to get out of this interview?" or "What made you feel that you wanted to participate in this project?"
By putting both sides 'wants' or needs out in the open I would hope to
- build trust,
- share power equally (or more equally),
- create a collaborative nature to the interview, and/ or
- have the opportunity to clarify any over-stretching hopes that the student might have for the inquiry, for example, that this research will change the world, etc!
3. 6th August
Interview setting needs to be considered carefully to minimise potential harm to student (and researcher):
- safe environment?
- relaxing environment?
- private environment?
If area is isolated am I putting both student and myself at risk from outsider danger? Perhaps somewhere private but not far from other people?
Arrangement of room could add to pressure on student if, for example, it takes place in the principals office where students are summoned when in trouble and researcher takes principals seat?
What about protecting myself from possible harm? Keep interview room door open at all times but sit away from door to maintain confidentiality?
(Emond, 2005; Westcott & Littleton, 2005)
4. 3rd August 2013
By choosing students who take classes with multiple teachers within the school - to help eliminate potential harm from identification; to give more variety in experience of motivation - have I reduced the wider application of my research? By definition do my participants have:
- greater intrinsic dance enthusiasm,
- stronger friendships/ greater social networks within the dance class,
- come from wealthier families,
Does it matter? Should I acknowledge this possibility in my report? And does it all depend on what my students reveal to me?
This also raises the issue of 'who is excluded' again - should I take steps to explain why those not asked were excluded. Yes, I think so - it may be that by not being asked to take part some students might feel under-valued, unimportant, 'not good enough', etc.
So first week back of the term address any classes where there are students of similar ages and explain reasons behind who was asked and who was not.
In (a kind of) conclusion I can see that everything above, and, indeed, the whole crux of how I approach, plan and conduct my research, relies on the answer to a very important question:
Am I looking to provide theoretical frameworks and/ or definitive answers on the topic of motivation to other teachers/ educators/ etc. or is my aim to listen, understand and provide a written interpretation of my students voices around the subject of motivation in the dance class that may provide insight to me, as teacher, and to others on the benefits of giving value to students thoughts and experiences?
N.B. I hope that my answer to this question, if not already clear to you, will become apparent over the next few months as I continue to blog about my journey.
Anderson, P. 2004. Ethics. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 97-112.
Emond, R. 2005. Ethnographis Research Methods with Children and Young People. In: Greene, S. and Hogan, D. eds. 2005. Reseaching Children's Experiences. London: Sage Publications Ltd, pp. 123-139.
France, A. 2004. Young People. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 175-190.
Fraser, S. and Robinson, C. 2004. Paradigms and Philosophy. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 59-77.
Greene, S. and Hill, M. 2005. Researching Children's Experience: Methods and Methodological Issues. In: Greene, S. and Hogan, D. eds. 2005. Researching Children's Experiences. London: Sage Publications Ltd, pp. 1-21.
Kellett, M., Robinson, C., and Burr, R. 2004. Images of Childhood. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 27-42.
Roberts, H. 2004. Health and Social Care. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 239-254.
Robinson, C. and Kellett, M. 2004. Power. In: Fraser, S., Lewis, V., Ding, S., Kellett, M. and Robinson, C. eds. 2004. Doing Research with Children and Young People. London: Sage, pp. 81-96.
Sass, E. 1989. Motivation in the College Classroom: What Students tell us. Teaching of Psychology, 16 (2), pp. 86-88. Available at: http://top.sagepub.com/content/16/2/86.full.pdf+html [Accessed: 19/03/2013].
Westcott, H. and Littleton, K. 2005. Exploring Meaning in Interviews with Children. In: Greene, S. and Hogan, D. eds. 2005. Researching Children's Experiences. London: Sage Publications Ltd, pp. 141 - 157.