If life is what happens to our plans, then dance is what happens to our steps.
ideas sometimes when you wait they come to you.

Preparation for starting with BAPP

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Comments / Questions!

Hopefully all is ticking along in week five. In this weeks blog I thought I would look at a ‘question’, as in Module 2. I think this is useful to everyone regardless what module you are on. In a sense this is an exemplar.

Problem: I find people do not comment much on my blogs especially compared to other students blogs. I always end with ‘what do you think?’ but people don’t tell me! Students leave comments on other students blogs like “thank you for writing this” or “good idea” these comments appear to be to let the person know their blog was read. The sort of comments I get are more if people have a problem and many of my post don’t get any comments. I have started to check the numbers of hits I get in order to see if what I am writing is useful or looked for by students. But what I hope for is a conversation in the comments and links to other people’s posts and comments so we create more of a network.  So my question is “Why don’t people leave comments on my blogs”

Then I look at ethical implications (Tasks 5 ) What ethical implications are there.
Ethically First: Am I following the kind of protocols of blogging. Does my writing make it easy for people to comment. What are the other rules of blogging; maybe I am not constructing my blogs in a manor that implies I want comment or on-going conversation? I need to look into this.

Ethically Second: I must be aware that my relationship with students is different from their relationship with each other. I have a different power relationship and their for I am perceived differently.  It is expected that I write blogs because I am an advisor on the course.  In some ways people have become friends through the course but it is ethically unclear if I can be friends with people or not. Writing ‘thanks’ or ‘good idea’ do not seem appropriate because 1) It’s my job to do it and 2) I am not perceived to be an equal (or a friend) so saying ‘good idea’ might seem weird. Also commenting on from what I write might seem as if a person is doubting me or challenging the ideas which goes against the power relationship.

Ethically Third: it is perceived to be possible that interactions I have with students could affect their grades. Because I am a part of the University (as it were) I appear differently. I might be more difficult to interact with and even perceived as dangerous because I could have a negative affect on a grade or something. It could seem unclear how the blogs work (many people still feel that the blogs are being marked as a task rather than evidence of learning). Maybe people would feel that I would be looking at spelling and grammar in the comments. Maybe people feel what I am writing is the ‘answer’ so all you can think is ‘yes’!!

Ethically Lastly, is it reasonable of me to expect to have conversations when people are busy and really what they want to do is find out what boxes they need to check to pass. Whereas I have a job doing this and maybe more time to ‘shoot the breeze’. Or maybe students don’t have much internet time and need to move quickly across blogs (although that doesn’t explain why they comment on other peoples blogs more than mine).

These ethical considerations change how I think about my initial question. ‘Why’ people don’t leave comments could be a number of reasons. The question now seems really big. It ranges across power dynamics, perceptions of the ‘teacher’ / student relationship, personal identity and how people see their own voice being heard, time constraints, confidence in spelling, social expectations and that’s only why Middlesex people don’t comment. I have tried to include other people (friends, past students, future students general inter-net users too. Why don’t they comment). The question is clearly too big to research in a couple of months.

It is this point that I must realise that the question can no longer be about the incident that made me think about it (my personal problem) because in order to really find out something useful to me I must look at the question for itself or otherwise I will limit the question to being a comment on my problem rather than a way to find out more about something. In other words, I might think “well I don’t need past students to comment anyway. That wasn’t really a part of the problem to start with.’ But if I ask the question ‘why don’t people comment ion my blog’ I need to look at ‘people’. I might find that the reasons past students don’t comment informs why students now don’t, and if I had not considered this I might have missed a big point in terms of the question (although it appeared unimportant in terms of my ‘problem’. That’s why it has to be the question you address not the my ‘problems’). The biggest problem might turn out to be that my blog is hard to find or something like that. So I can’t limit the question to only construct what I expect to find out as an answer. I must look at the question for what it is asking.

Doing this I see that the question is too big because I would not be able to reach out to enough different types of people in a couple of months. So maybe it should be ‘why don’t current BAPP students comment on my blog?’
Again the ethical points I looked at make me see this is also a big question because there are clearly a number of possible reasons and they are all very different. Maybe the implication of my question needs to be changed.  I could change the word ‘why’ to ‘what are the reason students give….’ There is a big dynamic change of power in terms of where I see ‘truth’ laying here.

When my question starts with ‘why’ there is an implication I need to study something and then use the evidence to prove something ‘why’ it happens as if ‘why’ is answered outside of the situation itself. If I ask ‘what are the reasons given’ then I assume that the students themselves know ‘why’ the answer or ‘truth’ of the situation is not outside it and needs to be interpreted but is in the people themselves. As a social scientist, narrative inquirer and Pragmatist I feel the second construction of the question evens the ground out more for the inquiry. I feel the ‘why’ assumptions follow more along the line of the specialist in the white coat telling you what you think!!!! If I change the question to start with ‘What are the reasons…’ I can still look at what these reasons mean to me and what I feel they imply about my blog.

So now my question is “what are the reasons current BAPP students give for not leaving comments on my blog”. It still seems a little like I am court up in my own up-set and not genuinely interested in comment leaving. In other words not allowing the question to stand alone but using it to make a point about people leaving comments on my blog when I feel I have tried to encourage them. This limits me. Firstly, because the very people who the question addresses don’t leave comments so I am not communicating with them well in the first place so how do I expect to not just replicate the same problems I have noticed in the blog, in the data collection. Whatever is making them feel uncomfortable or seeing it as unnecessary may also affect the data I collect. (I would think) then all I would be doing is proving my point that they don’t communicate with me well rather than actually finding out why. 

Secondly, because there are the people who do comment and it might be as useful and important to find out why they do as why others don’t.
I need to open out my question and not focus on the ‘problem’ that instigated it. It could be “what are the reasons BAPP students give for why the do or don’t leave comments on other BAPP blogs’. Now my question addresses my problem but is open enough for me not to be a mission to prove I’m hard done by the non-commenters, and could be useful to other people who write BAPP blogs. I am not looking for an answer ‘why = because’…. Because I realise the question is too big to answer in a couple of months but I will find out more about it and draw some conclusions that might help me with my blog writing.

I hope this is useful for Module 3ers too because I hope it reminds you what your data collecting and analysing is for.

Tasks 6 etc… so how do I find out? I could try a couple of ways to see which way works in terms of me connecting with people and getting the kind of answers I can find useful. I could try making a survey, maybe I could try interviewing a couple of my advisees. I try out a couple of types of data gathering tools so that when I do the project next term I already know what I am doing. BUT more importantly I realise what kind of answers will help me understand the question in the terms I want to understand it. This is a lot deeper than I am writing about here because I have already gone on for ages. It is also for you to think about.  It is about what you consider valuable information in terms of the question you have. In terms of my question here it would be important to really understand the tools I need  and how I want to interact with people because that is what my question area is about. To show I understand my question would be to show I understand the implications it raises about how I can collect data. Like the student / teacher perceived power relations, the fact I am looking for information from people would have not communicated with me before etc…

Well what do you think?
Please do my pilot survey:


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reflections on this week's campus sessions

Week 4: we had campus sessions this week. The idea of campus sessions is that the experience of the students at the campus session creates a ripple of ideas across the whole student community through students and advisors who attended blogging about the event and then thought he comment you post on their blogs and the questions you ask. Have a look at the blogs below for some of the summaries of the campus session on Module 1 and part of Module 3 then go to the blogs of the students who wrote the summaries for more in depth discussion of the experience.

Module 1ers at starting their reflection tasks and as I said in my last weekly blog all modules build on each other if you have ‘done’ module 1 you should still be practicing the things you learnt about using the tool (blogging), reflecting on your process in order to better understand what you are doing, and using / a being a constructive part of your networks.  

 We started the campus session on Reflection doing an exercise that got someone else to look at we do on a day-to-day basis. We were exploring the idea that in inquiry it is useful to attempt to see the familiar as unfamiliar’ that is look at things a new and notice how you can habitually ‘see’ things. It is also good to be open to ‘see the unfamiliar as familiar’ that is be open to explore ideas you had not considered a part of your ‘world’.  

Then we did an exercise where the doing of the exercise was more useful (taught us more) than the product of doing it. The was the process we learnt from. We summaries this as ‘Sometimes the activity is more useful than the story / content. This was appoint about keeping a reflective journal (THIS IS FOR EVERYONE ON ALL MODULES). The actually activity of regularly keeping the reflective journal is useful in itself, even if it appears that you have little to say. When you look back at what you wrote / thought you might find there is more that you noticed. This took us to the idea of noticing.   

I believe we notice what we value. As you progress through the course your values might change / widen/ shift you will notice new things in the things you thought and wrote. But you need to have the documented what you thought in order to see the progression you have made. We also made the point that as you doing something you get beyond the initial ideas of it and push yourself beyond the first reaction to something. “You start to be able to think more outside of your box.”

Then we did an exercise that was difficult (this can be anything, we used the activity of balancing sticks on our finger tips). Then we look at how we engaged with learning how to do this. This related to Kolb’s Learning Cycle.

We pointed out we all engage with the cycle but it is at the point in the cycle that we notice we are learning something that we are in our comfort zone. Some people might know all about the plan of something but its not until they actually do it that it becomes meaningful.  Or someone might do something but when they see it they get it….


Putting all the exercises together you get the ideas. That reflection is about looking at thing a new (familiar / unfamiliar), this is supported by a practice of noticing how and when things become meaningful to you and start to be a part of a learning (adding to your knowledge) experience.

What do you think of this?
Students summarised it as;
Reflection – is important to learn from
Familiar as unfamiliar
Notices in order to reflect
Notice when you learn
Learning is knowledge that is to say it is applying knowledge – experience generates knowledge and reflection allows you to capture experiences in order to reflect on them.
Sometimes the action of doing contains more learning that the content it generates.
Notice mistakes too, reflecting on them is how you learn too. (Learn through mistakes)
Listening to other people is a useful way to look at what you think. You can compare how people respond to something with how you respond.
Sometimes you need ‘silence’ or a ‘stillness’ in yourself to allow yourself to observe (notice).

I think these ideas are important for everyone.

In the campus session for Module 2 we looked at Ethics. 2ers should be being the tasks linked to the Reader on Ethics (5a, 5b etc..) it is a good idea to get on with this. If you have a number of questions chose one so that you can use it to do the tasks. You might find that the tasks themselves help you think more deeply about the question. BUT do not get stuck finding the perfect question. This is an example of the activity giving you the learning experience (see above). We also talked about the idea that ethical dilemmas often manifest in controls, and power structures around the physical body. This is to do with individuals’ rights, recognising inequalities and ‘free will’. (This is to do with philosophical debate as the Reader mentions, look at Hobbes, and Kant I also find Foucault and Bourdieu interesting coming from an embodied perspective – as a dance artist for instance). Looking at your interests and questions through an ethical lens really helps you find a deeper understanding of what the questions mean to you and those around you.

We also had a campus session on Module 3 . (See Paula’s blog). We talked about effective writing, planning the remaining activities of your research so that you stay on task. Know when you want your first draft to be done by and if you want Advisor feedback when their cut off date to drafts to be sent. Each advisors deadline might be slightly different. We also talked about the artefacts.

We compared the role of artefacts with the role of the Critical Review. The Critical Review is a formal, structured, and traditional document. It shows the whole process. The Artefact is in a format is more in tune with your professional practice. Its likely to be some that is recognisable in your field of professional practice. Both the Artefact and the Critical Review respond to the Research Question. The Artefact is not an add-on to the critical review. The artefact should be the natural development of the inquiry.  So for example if your question is about the singing your Artefact might involve a sound track. Also think about this: when you go to tell someone about this work who is in the field you want to work in they are not going to be that into reading the critical review (I would guess) but when you show them the artefact they would be interest and see how much work you must have done – and how well you understood the question because of the form of artefact. So it’s not just a documentation it is the embodiment of the knowledge.

I thought about three kinds of Artefact or three facets of an artefact.
The “Stones on the edge of the well’. If your inquiry has been talking about a kind of experience or embodied action and your critical review is about it then it would be nice to experience it!!. Like if you theorize about the sounds different ways of dropping stones down a well, it would be nice to have a well and some stones.

“The ‘X’ itself”. This the thing that you have said is needed itself. If you have written that you found that artists need a press-pack then the artefact could be the press-pack itself. Or if it was about what a show reel should look like the show reel itself…or dance or song etc…

Lastly, a “kind of documentation in the style of….” This is a something shows the points you have raised in the style of the field it comes from (the more familiar form or mirroring the forms of things from that area). For instance a big colourful (children’s book style) book that documents the main process and points of a creative project in a school- which is what I made and is used as an example in the reader. It was to be read by parents and they are more familiar with children’s books in the school that ‘reports’.

What do you all think – people that were there…people that were not there?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Campus Session , Module 3 (October 19th 2011): Artefacts

As part of the campus session for module 3 today, we looked at the Artefact. The students who were there wrote three bullet point ideas that they find useful in understanding the role of the Artefact requirement. Go to the blog of the person to read further about their thoughts on the session. I will be writing about this in my weekly blog also.
  1. Artefact is about your inquiry question not the next step
  2. Create something that is in your field
  3. A natural culmination of your inquiry  
Mark Iles

  1. The Critical review is the whole story of the research in academic form.
  2. The Artefact is what the research indicated in terms of a creative express in your field of practice.
  3. The artefact is not the start a new question or inquiry: it should address your original question.

The artefact:
  1. Follow the thread to the natural conclusion
  2. 3 types of artefact (see Adesola’s next blog also)
  3. It is not additional, its part of the process

  1. The artefact is not an add on
  2. Follow the thread of the inquiry to a natural product.
  3. A different way of showing your conclusions

  1. Not letting the artefact be an add on or that it raises another question
  2. Understanding that its OK to not know exactly what your artefact is until your analysis is done.
  3. The artefact should be a conclusion of your findings – it accompanies the critical Review but doesn’t have to show the whole process as the Critical Review does. 

Group 1: Kolb's Learning Cycle

Demonstrating the Kolb Learning Cycle through the action of writing a script.
Demonstrating the 4 stages of engaging with experience as knowledge
Nina StandenJohn NordonNick CrowleyLily Corrigan

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Campus Session Module 1 (October 18th)

Today was a campus session for Module 1. We looked at the reflection section of the Module. I will write more about it on my blog later in the week. The students present at the campus session worked in four groups to share one thing with you, that they felt was value about the session.

These blogs below are a summary from each group. Go to the blogs of the group to get a full explanation and to hear their thoughts. (Give them a chance to write it up so try a couple of times if they haven’t got anything up yet!) Group 1 did a film and I still have to down load it ! see theirs tomorrow!!!

Group 2: Noticing as a part of reflection

Group 2: Noticing as a part of reflection

In order to reflect on something you have to have noticed it. Start to look beyond the obvious and take time to notice

Group 3: Key Reflective actions

Group 3: Key Reflective actions
We’ve taken photos relating to the key reflective points and hope this shows the difference ways of reflecting, observing and noticing




Group 4: Seeing the familiar as unfamiliar

Group 4: Seeing the familiar as unfamiliar
From the session today, the concept that really stood out for us was trying to
“Seeing the familiar as unfamiliar”

To reflect this we took a series pf photographs that we feel in part illustrate this point.

We would then love you to visit out blogs and take a minute to reflect on the pictures using the concept of ‘seeing’ ‘thinking about’ ‘wondering’
Than compare and what we saw, thought and wondered!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Reflection, SIGs and Literature!

 This blog was meant to be posted on Thursday according to the system I created for myself this year…! But then there’s life; as the quote above says “life is what happens to our plans”. So how is your schedule going. Don’t get caught up fixating on one task try to keep moving forward with your work.

My big wonder this week is; “is my life just a response to things and if so where am ‘I’ then. Or am ‘I’ in the setting-up / and perception of the situation to which I respond?”

The reflection of Module One (which is what 1er’s should be moving into as we enter week 4) is an on-going activity across the course and your career. So how is it going with reflection? The analysis you need to engage with in Module 3 when you have collected data is basically reflections – reflexivity aims to help you widen your perception. Locate the ‘I’, the 'response', the situation in the data.

Of course talking through your thoughts helps with the process of thinking - finding meaning. Who do you talk to? Well, 1ers will be moving on later to looking at their networks, 2ers and 3ers have looked at networks so use them. 2ers you are just forming SIGs and other groups that are extensions to the networks  you identified last module. The SIGs are so you can communicate your ideas and hear others. Dewey says that an idea, once communicated can be looked at and explored because it has a kind of form other than your feeling (which from my perspective is an embodied experience - what he calls 'first state' below).

‘Where communication exists, things in acquiring meaning, thereby acquire representatives, surrogates, signs, and implicates, which are infinitely more amenable to management, more permanent and more accommodating, than events in their first estate’ (Dewey, 1929a)

Module 2ers you need to have joined a SIG by now, and blogged of course. This is the way to have a conversation, interrogate your ideas, to widen your field. Don’t make lots of little SIG groups. If you are thinking along similar lines to a group but a little different join and add your voice, it will widen the thoughts of everyone and challenge you to explain yourself.

Formative feedback on the research questions in Module 2: from me it is to blog more. I have seen some interesting questions but you all need to talk to each other and blog. Some 2ers have not up-dated there blogs recently and it is hard to share in the conversation with them. Keep the questions fluid so you don’t fix yourself into a corner. I will post more feedback in my blog next week also.

Module 3ers: I strongly advise you to have a Literature Review by now and some Key Texts. A Literature Review is an overview of what’s out there and what people think. What the general threads are and who is famous for thinking about them. Key Texts are a few books that you have read cover to cover and that support your research (NOT support your argument - which hopefully you don’t have yet) the Key Texts are books that are known for raising the key issues in your area of research.  A metaphor for this is: a Literature Review is like ‘Eagle vision’ seeing an over few of the whole field. Key Texts are like ‘mouse vision’. To know about a part of the field really well.    

Another metaphor for this : If I am talking about Dance a  Literature Review is like knowing there are a number of kinds of dance – Salsa, Hip Hop, Ballet , Contemporary. As I am talking about dance you would expect me to know that these things exist, however you would not expect me to know all about all of them but I should be able to overview the kinds of dance out there. Key texts are like me knowing about Ballet in more detail, knowing about point work, ballet barr, and people wearing tutus etc…

Hope to see London based people at the campus sessions this coming week.

I am sitting in a Starbucks that is open late on a Sunday, Great!! I think we should start a list of good places to study outside the house, for those on the move, between houses, without internet at home etc... There are some great places to get wi-fi and get on with things. What do you think of all this?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

First tasks (Feedback on week two)

Here we are in week two. First modulers have been putting up their C.V.s, youtube films and flickr pictures. There is some great work, often people using the tools for the first time. It’s a great opportunity to get to know new ways to communicate BUT also to observe yourself: see how you learn new skills or build on ones you already knew. You can draw on the memory of this in a week or two when you start the reflection session of the first module. If you’re not on the 1st module don’t forget the communication tools, still blog and share ideas, make ‘things’ about your thoughts and process, up-date your flickr and think about how the tools can be useful to you in general across the whole course.

Module two-ers and threes are working with questions (!). task 4a is thinking about questions relevant to your practice. The thing about questions is whether you can engage with them as questions or whether you are engaged with them in terms of answers. I don’t believe in answers per say. Rather than looking at questions in terms of what the answer will be or how you think they should be answered, look at them in terms of better understanding the question. So instead of a goal of an answer have a goal of better understanding the question, better understanding the question gives you an answer of a sort.

This is a fundamental issue about where you see ‘truth’ residing. Is it out there to be found. That is it’s fixed and needs to be discovered. This is a positivist view that things are there whether you are there or not, whether you understand them or not. Or do you think that truth is not fixed but depends on how you perceive things.

Dewey talks about a frightening sound on a window, on investigation it turns out to be a branch knocking against the window. His view is that it is not that a mistaken truth has given way to a real truth. It is that it is true there was a frightening sound and it is true that was a branch. As your perception changes so does the answer. This is more of a non-positivist view: things are changed by your perception of them. So you can see how looking for a fixed answer to a question would mean that you are assuming you totally understand the question and that there is some fixed answer out there to discover.

Of course some questions are easier to find a fixed answer to. These are usually ones that involve quantitative data; like “how many fingers does your grandmother have?”, questions that involve numbers. From the popular media we are most used to research being presented this way. But many of your questions are qualitative – about how people feel, or what they think, this is not something you can count it is about the quality not the quantity of something.  So can you see my point… that questions can be thought about outside of the context of what their answer will be and more about the inquiry into the question itself. What do you think??

Have a look at the funny video on my blog post:
THURSDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2009: Why research analysis is so important; it's not all data collection! - http://adesolaa.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-research-analysis-is-so-important.html

Module three-ers have you thought about writing rough drafts of some of the parts of your critical reflection NOW!!!! For instance your ‘Introduction’ (section/chapter); it is about what you planned to do, the context of the work and the original idea. You could write that down now even if you know things are changing… the change is part of the process of inquiry. If you’ve got it down than when you come back to it in November you’ll have your starting point. It might also help you to have a clearer focus as you move forward into field work (data collection) your own notes and reflections are also data remember. You could also think about a draft of lit. review section too. Again it might help you consolidate your ideas as your thinking might be changing quite fast. It is also psychologically nice to feel you have something to work off of when you come to your final writing-up period.
What do you think?

Using interviews anyone?? Do you have / have you made your consent forms for the people you are interviewing?
A really good book to look at is
“Learning from Strangers: the art and method of qualitative interview studies’ – Robert S. Weiss

Anyone recommend any other good books on interviews?

What do you think about all this – please comment