#becomingeducational W25: Research – Emotions – That A-Maze-Ing Thing

We are still wrestling with the complexity of data analysis: how do you make meaning of and from data? All data is complex – yes – we can see that visual images are rich and metaphorical and require careful *reading* – but writing is also metaphorical – it has rich meaning buried within it: think how difficult it can be to really understand the meaning of a poem: that is the concentration that you have to bring to bear on your research data.

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That A-maze-ing thing: So we returned to the 3D Maze artefact that we analysed several weeks ago. The Maze had been produced as a reflective artefact illustrating one student’s view of her HE experience. This time we engaged in ‘thinking writing’ to make conscious our analysis of that data. We wrote again to draft Recommendations for Practice that might emerge from the analysis of research data like that. To seed this writing we re-visited Mo’s blog with its useful close up pictures of key elements of the Maze artefact: http://moa1484.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/a-maze-ing/ Tip: If analysing visual data in your own Projects, do not just insert pictures of the whole thing – take Big Close Up shots of key elements that you want to discuss.

After writing individually, ideas were shared in a plenary. Themes that emerged from the analysis stage (the coding and the codes) was that the Maze represented an educational experience that was constrained and deliberately confusing. We saw handprints on the wall as if desperately searching for meaning – we see footprints in blind alleys and dead-ends representing frustration and the sense of being lost. The whole was in black and white perhaps suggesting a de-natured and de-contextualised education. The few touches of colour ran across the words: London Met Students – perhaps signifying that in collectivity there is colour, vibrancy and strength – but that is the exception and not the norm in this representation of University.

The Recommendations for Practice included developing more engaging practice, setting more creative challenges for students, encouraging real research and real world projects and meaningful collaborations between student and student and between students and tutors.

Initially these were written as if giving advice directly to a student reader – so we reminded ourselves that these Research Reports are written for staff readers – and also for staff readers who think that they are already promoting engaging practice. So – the question arises: how do you write this sensitively without alienating your reader? We mentioned that this is where the Literature Review again becomes important – Recommendations can refer back to the research evidence already covered in the Lit Review… Tip: when drafting Dissertations and Projects go back to early drafts of the Lit Review and include reference to literature that covers the issues that you see surfacing in your own research.

And so to the first of our Interactive Student Workshops – with big thanks to Toni and Sameera:

Emotional Literacy:

http://prezi.com/l0nh9myyl-5y/emotional-literacy/

This session was engaging and interesting: we free wrote – made notes – produced collages – and then engaged in a lively discussion.

Key issue that arose: the worry that emotional literacy is just a way of making the oppressed shut up and put up with the various injustices of the education system. Given that many people in the class were critical of different oppressive practices within the education system – labelling, racism, classism, sexism, an education system over concerned with the interests of business – what are we supposed to do with that righteous rage? It is not good enough just to quietly manage our own feelings and let the injustices continue… and a medical labelling model blames the person with the rage – and does nothing to challenge oppressive practice.

Toni and Sameera talked about the need to manage our feelings not to suppress or deny them – and that rage frustrated or badly expressed damages *us* and is no threat or challenge to education per se…

I always enjoy an interactive workshop – especially one where we are not given all the answers – but left to wrestle with complex issues for ourselves – and Toni and Sameera did not disappoint – well done!!

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#becomingeducational W24: Dance your Research Project

This week started with a discussion on different ways of analysing research data. We made much of the videos that you produced last week. To make these videos, you had to reflect upon your research project and any data collected and decide what it all meant: what is it saying about the student experience – and about teaching and learning?

Thus the video production process was also an analytical process: you were deciding on your ‘take away’ message from your research. Probably this analysis was happening at an unconscious level at that time – but now – on further reflection – we hope that you can see that this IS what you were doing.

You can now return to and analyse your own videos: What is your message? How did it emerge from your data? What are implications for teaching practice at the University?

AND – one more bit of inspiration – check out Gonzo Scientist’s annual Dance Your PhD Competition – a mix of video and dance as analytical and communication tool: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2013/11/25/winners-of-the-dance-your-phd-competition-revealed/

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Coding: We also discussed how you might look for themes and motifs in your data – we call this process coding. This coding process is part of your analytical engagement with your own data.

If you used interviews or questionnaires you might look for key words or phrases that occur: words relating to concrete things like reading, writing, essays, assignments, notemaking, group work, classrooms, learning spaces … There may be affective words covering people’s feelings: nervous, frightened, fed up, bored, happy, sad, isolated, team or group… You then explore how the feelings that you are noting relate to the concrete things you are exploring – and start to offer arguments.

When analysing visual data, drawings made, pictures chosen, collages constructed, you also have to look for the themes within. Here instead of looking for the words – you analyse the images – or ask your participants to analyse their images. Again – you look for the recurring themes – and decide what they mean.

We illustrated this with a look at part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=257EDRKfQFk&feature=youtu.be

We discussed the meaning behind Opening Ceremonies generally: what function they performed as cultural artefacts or events… And if they normally celebrate the *best* of the country – what does *this* video say about this ceremony – and this country? We noted that this National Health Service segment celebrates that in 1948 following WW2 and in the face of terrible financial crisis the then Labour Government ‘put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration’. We thought this was an unusual and wonderful piece to have within an Olympic Ceremony: wonderful for its diversity, no perfect bodies here, and for its care and caring. This is not ‘Triumph of the Will’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHs2coAzLJ8)! Some of us were very surprised that such a segment was included given that at the time of that Ceremony we had a Tory Government seemingly intent on outsourcing the NHS to private tender.

Which returns us to data analysis: no image, no word, no metaphor is neutral. Each and every one has meaning derived from multiple contexts: who made it – when – for whom – with what resources – with what intent? What does it *mean*? Tip: Analyse the opening ceremony again and think what it might be saying about what we could value in the UK… And then analyse your own videos and see what you were saying about your Research projects and your research data!

And so to the dance!

Temujin Gill choreographed this part of the Opening Ceremony – he also choreographed part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony – and we had invited Tem in to run a Dance Workshop for all us on the Becoming module. We wanted to experience a Dance Workshop devised and delivered by the sort of person who could choreograph *that* sort of ceremony. We wanted to experience embodied learning and the feelings that that might inspire in us. We the tutors wanted you to experience something hopefully wonderful – and challenging – and disconcerting – but fabulous – and embodied – and of feeling … and then to think: Wow!! I got a lot from that!

Tem himself talked about the role of the body in being human – and in communicating who and what we are. He spoke of the importance of developing our ability to communicate positively with our own bodies – and to positively inhabit our own bodies. He also wanted us to experience call and response – embodied communication in movement and dance… And to experience the building up of a communal dance – that we developed and performed together. And to move out of our comfort zones – to take a risk – to embrace something new – and to try to learn from it… The session was wonderful and awe inspiring for some – and probably terrifying and disconcerting for others. Hopefully though we are all thinking how we might use practice like that in our own learning, teaching and assessment practices in the future. For more on Tem – do Google him – and also check out: http://temujingill.yolasite.com/grounded.php

To really understand this week – check out Sameera’s blog http://sameerasconfessions.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/wednesday-march-26th-2014-900am-100pm-week-24/

And DANCE!!