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

Saturday, 18 February 2012


My blog post is a little late this week, sorry. I have been at a conference – “Meaning + Making of Queer Dance: embodied pleasures in History, Representation, and Queer Communities”. It was a great conference and really interesting. Queer theory is an interesting strand of inquiry. For me it responds to and informs the use and expectation of the body that resonates with questions that dance wrestles with. “Trans” informed thinking raises questions about the body, who defines it, how it can change and wider questions about the linear progression of time that heterosexual perspectives take which are not the lived narrative of many peoples lives.

I will write more on the conference maybe next week. This week I wanted to talk about literature reviews and questionnaires. This is particularly relevant to Module 2ers and 3ers. I have notice a trend, which I will describe below, but just to say there is nothing wrong with this trend but I just want you to think deeply about it and be aware of these thoughts on it.

It is clear that if you are going to analyse data the simplest way of understanding that activity is to compare one set of data with another. The second set being a kind of fixed or established idea and the first being looked at in terms of the fixed or established idea.

I have notice a lot of peoples plans for their research involving taking a questionnaire or survey as a first step then using that to inform further collection of data through interviews. What I want to point out here is that the questionnaire / survey is being used here in the way a Literature Review should / could be used. That is to establish that a group of people think a particular thing. I feel that people are seeing the numbers that a questionnaire can gather as a form of justification for the main ideas the questionnaires uncover. As if, if 50 dancers think it, it is validated enough for you to go on to ask questions about it or use the idea as a basis for your interviews, but this a weak position to be in for two reasons.

Firstly, the size of the questionnaire and the quality of the questionnaire is not enough to justify the results being a the foundation of your ideas and inform the rest of your inquiry. Secondly, the time it takes to really analyse the data from the questionnaire itself is prohibitive to getting the interviews done in time too. In other words you run the risk of the questionnaire being so superficial or under analysed that it does not really provide a foundation for rest of your work.  

However this process is not wrong it is just that academia has solved the problem by using a Literature Review. A Literature Review looks at ‘all’ the books or ideas about your topic. It is not looking a Key Texts – one or two books that you read and quote – it is about knowing what people think / have published on the subject generally. In other words in the same way the questionnaire gives you an overview of what 50 people think. A literature review also gives you an overview of what 50 people think but these are people who have published their ideas so the ideas have been challenged and defended. This means that using these ideas as the basis of your interview (as you would the questionnaire results) is a stronger foundation. The authors have done the work of rigour and ‘credibility’ for you.

So I would like you to think about what you are using as a foundation for the ideas you have and then what you are comparing them too or using to make them credible: a questionnaire in a way is like you saying if I can get 50 of my friends and colleagues to agree with me then I am going to say that this is a kind of fact that I will interview people about. The literature review is saying I think this and XXX thinks it too but [and here is the most useful part of the literature review] YYY does not think this and challenges this. I will use this site of interaction that the literature revolves around  to inform how I approach my interviews.

Does that make sense? What do you think?

I am not saying that a survey or any other method is a replacement for a  literature review. I am saying be careful that you use the literature review and data collection methods appropriately and not use them interchangeably. I am making the assumption you do not want your conclusions to be limited to information gather from a few people you loosely know but want to be informed by the wealth of literature and ideas out there. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Module One (1st campus session)

Module One (First Campus Session)

We had campus sessions this week. The idea of campus sessions is that they instigate ideas, question and thoughts that the whole student body can discuss and think about. The blogs are a good space to do this of course. In the first campus session for Module One we took an over view of the whole module. I felt important points were:

1). The tasks are not assessed; it is your reflection of them in the Critical Review that you hand in at the end of the module that is assessed. The tasks are to guide you through a learning journey, they are tips on how to look at yourself, look at your learning identity and style and start to see how you will move forward as you complete your BA with us.

2). Don’t get bogged down in the first section of the module. There are a lot of task suggestions there and you can get stuck in the comfort of doing things because you have been told to. Don’t get stuck making the perfect blog site (!), throughout the whole course you will be developing your ideas and often coming back to things to develop them further too.

During the session the Advisors introduced themselves, Paula, Rosemary, Alan and myself. Every student has one of us as an advisor. You need to have contacted your advisor by now so if you are not sure who your advisor is check your emails and make contact. Avni also introduced herself she is our administrator and will help you with issues to do with enrolment, etc… Then the students who had come introduced themselves. See Sherminne Seaman’s comment below.

Then we when through the module and underlined what would be assessed. We also looked at the tasks in terms of how they are spread out over the 12 weeks of the module. Following this looked at the steps the first task form.  We had a short break and then we looked at the same ideas using movement games (dance).

We discussed in words and we also did some movement  (dance game) in order to look at our ideas. After our discussions I asked everyone who attended the campus session to write down a single idea they thought was important that had been generated from what we talked / danced about. Also visit there blogs for further comments.

“I enjoyed how one ‘movement’ game allowed us to share and inspire each other’s new ideas.” - Liam Pentland [Using the interactions within a physical space,  the room we were in,  taught us something about the dynamic of the interactions within the cyber-space of the blogs also]

We found that sharing ideas with each other help us articulate our own ideas. “I found it was interesting to learn a variety of ways in which our own learning can be strengthened by communication with others. “ – John http://johnnordon.blogspot.com/

“Life is a journey, experience different things but don’t lose yourself throughout your experience, observe, be aware and make progression. Your experiences are your journey.” – Nina Nunes

“A point I found really useful today was working as a team and learning that we all had different aims but still working towards quite similar goals.” – Sherminne Seaman

“Finding the equilibrium between working alone and working as a team. Sharing an idea is more valuable than owning an idea [and not sharing]. We are all on individual journeys; nourish this!’ – Hannah Zapala http://hannahzapala.blogspot.com/

“Even though we are all on this journey together we all have different pathways. Sharing is better as knowledge is doubled. We don’t own the information and often information is improved when discussed with others.” – Nina Standen

[From the Movement game to generalising about the activity of the first module] “we are all in the journey of the course doing the same tasks (moves). However, the interpretation of the taks (moves) is free for us to decide. We learn from each other but there is no right and wrong way of doing it.” Ahmet Ahmet http://mrahmet.blogspot.com/

“[informed] looking at other people’s work as a guide to your own will help you on your own journey” Afi Agyeman http://afiagyeman.blogspot.com/

[movement exercise] “to share ideas – no need for ownership! [I felt an important point was] that you need to have your own journey as well as learning from others. [It’s about] about finding a balance between those two things.”  - Hollie Smith

Module Two (1st campus session)

Module Two (First Campus Session)

In the afternoon on Monday we had a campus session for Module Two. We had talked about starting to think about of a topic to inquire into for your investigation in Module Three. In terms of thinking about topics of interest we thought about who else is involved – who the stakeholders are? – this gives you a way to look at something from a number of perspectives to get a more three-dimensional picture. It also helps you think beyond your direct experience of place or event. 

We talked about different kinds of learning and the idea of challenging your ideas and notions. This is described as ‘rigour’. It is about not assuming anything but look further, or beneath the surface of things. We talked about how we acquire information (how do we do an enquiry? & What do we need to do to check it has rigour?)

We talked about field data, and data collected from Literature reviews.

This module is much more intense than the first module because it requires a number of things to be thought about and drawn together by the end of the module. It is the module where you figure out what will do to ‘compliment’ your existing credits in order to complete your BA (Hons). This includes being able summarise your knowledge into the title for your BA. This module also asks you to “sharpen your skills” and teaches you new techniques for research and inquire. These skills are not just so you can complete Module Three but so that you can conduct research within your own Professional Practice. This is so that you have the tools to continue your life long learning journey after you have graduated.

Go to Rosemary’s blog for further comments about the session. http://rosemarymcguinness.blogspot.com/

My important points to share were:

Indulge in a sense of wonder – enjoy the idea of knowing nothing and finding out something new.

Don’t take on the burden of spending 24 weeks planning and executing ways to prove yourself ‘right’.

Module Three (1st campus session)

Module Three (First Campus Session)

On Tuesday we had a campus session for module three. We looked at an overview of the next 12 weeks (planning your time will be important). Paula will be posting dates for events to remember over the term, for instance: The next campus session dates (March 1st and 23rd), also a day for help with writing (March 8th). There are also dates for sending in drafts of your work for feedback. Across the 12 weeks you are also asked to post at least 6 Blogs there were some suggestions for topics. All the details are in the power point slides on Paula’s blog http://paulanottingham.blogspot.com/.

We also did an exercise for thinking about the whole embodied process of the learning. We looked at what we want to keep, let go off, carry forward, shout about, think more about, the emotions of. Here is a summaries of these from the people who came to the session. It is different for everyone. It might be fun to try answering the categories for yourself.

Things to keep:
-       Healthy eating
-       Working when the house is free and quiet
-       Working  for hour a day everyday (small chunks)
-       Working for the whole day (it takes me time to get started)
-       Scheduling (work and study)
-       Using pictures and images to break down text into images)
-       Going to the library
-       Listening to music

Things to let go off:
-       Overtime at work
-       Bad eating
-       Leaving study work to the last minute
-       Studying at break at work
-       Panic
-       Being negative

Things to move forward with:
-       Using interviews
-       Observations
-       Reflecting
-       Learning how to set-up a sound system
-       Experiencing new things
-       Surveys
-       Completing the course

Things to shout about (feel proud of):
-       How far I’ve come and not given up
-       Sticking to deadlines
-       Paying my fees
-       Organisation
-       The research I’ve done
-       My essay and research how to write better
-       Not giving-up

Emotional associations:
-       relief when deadlines are met
-       panic
-       stress
-       passion
-       enjoyment
-       Motivated / de-motivated
-       being honest with myself
-       questioning
-       doubting
-       anxious
-       enthusiasm

Things to keep thinking about (let stew some more):
-       maybe access the library more
-       better contact with my Advisor
-       how I should use my spare time
-       Find literature
-       Use of interviews (and how to document them)
-       Surveys (to use or not to use)
-       The path the project is taking
-       Observations…

I asked people who attended to write one point they thought was important to share (there were lots more of course).

“Organisation, I think is a key [That worked for me last module was]. I need to have a sort of planning for my study time around everything else that happens in our life. I found that scheduling 1 hour of study / research into my diary and treating it as an hour of work, for instance, really made me stick to it.” – Laura 

“I found mapping out where we are like this very useful…[it made me think]
-       not to be so harsh on yourself
-       allow yourself enough time for deadlines
-       reward yourself for things you are proud of
-       we all feel anxious and stressed at times / allow yourself to enjoy the process
-       Don’t give-up / help is out there” Tanisha http://planyourblogger.blogspot.com/

“For those that were not here today, useful tips:
Organisation and sticking to it.
Support  / keeping in contact with others and other students on the blog
Finding some quite time
Letting go of things that didn’t help or blocked you with Module 2 “ - Samantha http://samanthawebber.blogspot.com/

Friday, 3 February 2012

New Term / Campus Sessions

Well the new term starts Monday. Don’t forget the Campus Sessions kick-off on Monday and Tuesday too.
Monday: Module One (10am-1pm),
Module Two (2pm – 5pm)

Tuesday: Module Three (10am -1pm)

All of these are at Trent Park Campus.

If you are re-doing a module get to know the your new colleagues who are doing it with you. They maybe someone you have blogged with before. Remember that it is the quality you the learning experience you have that is important not a race to the end. Enjoy the company and community we are building.

If you have just finished and will be graduating PLEASE keep blogging, it would be so nice to have a really big network of people who are doing have done (and maybe thinking of doing).