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.


  1. Sarah a thoughtful progression for your practitioner research. The Reeve books sounds interesting - why do you think his work is especially relevatn to younger adults/adolescents? Bw

    1. Hi Paula,
      Great question! My answer, in short, is that I'm not sure I have the ability to formulate an answer right now, but here goes,
      I find his writing is aimed at me - the level I am studying, my prior knowledge, and my area of interest - and I also feel that the chapters I have engaged with so far have been of such relevance because they deal with the formulation? no, wrong word...the development and satisfaction of basic human needs, but human needs that are in their infancy, perhaps, in adolescent/ young adults. Yes. That's what I am trying to say; the personal growth/ development that produces balanced and healthy adults has its roots in the adolescent/ young adult. Care and nurture at this time produces personal growth and well-being, neglect or abuse at this time produces adults without such growth or well-being. So the aspects of motivation covered by Reeve (2005) are particularly relevant to my inquiry from both a conceptual aspect (motivation of students) AND by being pertinent to my chosen age group (satisfying basic needs and enhancing personal development) .
      Thank-you for raising the point and for giving me the opportunity to reflect, critique, and condense, albeit in a 'stream of consciousness' kind of way, the 'why?' behind my enthusiasm for this particular text

  2. Hi Sarah,

    It's good to see that you are beginning to move your inquiry in to a particular focus or two. As you've seen on my blog, I have done the same and it will make progression much simpler as we look and research into very specific topics.
    With different types of motivation, do you feel the teachers approach could be a key one?
    You too are providing questions for students. I shall be producing ones with more 'yes and no' answers to enable I get the information needed, however I shall be using some open-minded, comment as you wish questions too. I like your idea of starting off simply to make them feel comfortable with being questioned and to get the motions going. I shall take this thought into consideration.

    1. ..when I say 'yes and no' answers, I mean multiple choice! So I shall provide answers that they choose from, maybe some that they can put in order of importance also

    2. Hi Emily,
      I think that , having embarked on the early stages of data collection and reading I have become more aware of the sheer scale of my chosen topic area and realise that I need to restrict what I am aiming to find out so that I can give it the time and respect it requires. I also want to make sure that I am always looking at things from my student's perspectives and, in doing so, bridge the gap between what adults think teenagers need and what they ACTUALLy need!

      Your mix of questions sounds like a good way to get usefu data AND that little bit deeper into the subject area.
      I commented on your latest blog about your thinking regarding two topics within your area of inquiry - again, I think it's a great way to ensure that your inquiry has a deeper, more qualitative quality as your subject is not really one that can (or should) be reduced to a set of statistics or numbers.