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.
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:
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!!