Advance HE recommended this blogpost by Alan Donnelly, of Sheffield Hallam University. It is both useful and thought-provoking, so I share it here:-
I lost a bit of speed on my PGCert project during my husband’s birthday week – it was a “big” birthday and was celebrated accordingly. With guests staying, I didn’t even attempt to do any project work.
Last weekend, therefore, I was resolved to push ahead. On Friday evening, I transcribed my conversations with ‘Interviewee A’ and ‘Interviewee B’, so that I would only have one more to transcribe after the third interview. (Rather alarmingly, I sound like a Classic FM announcer – this came as a bit of a shock! Not that I don’t like listening to them, but I had no idea that my accent and tone might sound similar. Gulp.) However, family life and unexpected calamities got in the way for the rest of the weekend, so I haven’t done any more writing for the final report.
However, I attempted a quick summary of some of the issues that arose, since I shall need to incorporate them into my report at some stage soon. (Another 421 words – pathetic, considering the lengths I sometimes write!) I won’t go into too much detail in this posting, however; my thoughts need to be refined and interpolated into the writing I’ve already done, so it would be inappropriate to write at length here. Furthermore, I hadn’t yet done the third and last interview, which will also need transcribing and analysing.
- My first two interviewees’ comments often reflected their status as part-time, mature distance-learners.
- Sometimes, learners realise that their difficulties are actually connected with a previously undiagnosed problem, such as dyslexia.
- The help of library staff is much appreciated.
- Being able to find instructional tools/apps easily comes through as a common thread; as well as providing a range of tools, the library needs to ensure that they can easily be found.
- Another issue raised, was that of interactive learning tools for learning how to do referencing; this ties in with questionnaire responses asking for more details about learning how to use the online bibliographic referencing tools that are now freely available.
Although five questionnaire respondents expressed willingness to be interviewed, I only actually had three responses when I followed up the willing volunteers, so I decided to accept that there will only be three interviews. Time is pressing, and I need to start writing up all the various components required in my portfolio!
June 2017 sees me working towards completion of my PGCert project (Postgraduate Certificate, Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education), and towards the commencement of my AHRC-funded networking project, Claimed from Stationers’ Hall.
I’m setting things in place for the postdoctoral project, but I’m hopefully going to have the PGCert written and submitted before the postdoc network kicks off.
The PGCert Project
For long enough, I’ve been focused first on getting my practice-based project research proposal written and accepted, and then getting it through the ethical approval process. Between those two milestones, I devised my project questionnaire and two ‘interventions’ – experimental mini online tutorials that I would share with my chosen project cohort, asking them targeted questions to elicit their reactions to my efforts.
Finally, I was able to get the project under way. I shared the questionnaire several times. I set a deadline of the end of May, to allow myself time to evaluate the questionnaire responses. Finally this week, with the deadline past, I was able to start my analysis. I had 18 sets of responses, and decided that would do.
Some of my questions were multiple choice (eg, Did this help? Yes or no.) Others offered the opportunity to give free-text answers. When it came to analysis, the multiple choice questions were easily turned into pie charts, whilst the free-text ones lent themselves to textual analysis. Having sorted the answers into rough categories, I even managed to make some more pie charts. (My study was more like a pie-shop this morning!)
I also need to submit a Journal Summary (1000 words) with PDP, detailing where my learning development has changed with regards to ‘Pedagogy, Research, Scholarship [and] Professional Practice‘ – and I need to refer to key journal entries in that regard. The PDP shouldn’t go past 3 A4 pages.
- And complete the UKPSF Checklist
Quite apart from my getting a better understanding of what ethnology actually means to an ethnologist, there were some salutary reminders about interviewing subjects, reliable or unreliable witnesses, and the possibility that conflicting reports from the same person might stem from their own expectations of what the interviewer wanted to hear, as much as from whether they were reliving a moment – or reflecting back upon something from a more recent vantage point. (As, for example, a WW1 solder reflecting back about the Christmas Day truce, on one occasion talking about exchanging gifts, and on another disapproving of the fraternization.) Gary spoke of further nuances, but this was the gist of his example.
Since I’ll be interviewing a few of my peers for my project, it was interesting to hear a professional from another discipline talking about an enormous batch of interviews made by a folksinger and transcribed over many decades, and how he, Gary, was now involved in publishing them and finding other ways to bring them to life – for example, in drama and song.
No time to write further … perhaps later!