On Tuesday we had Skype discussions with a Module Three focus. We talked about a number of things. Those attending will be posting significant moments or ideas on their blogs so have a read around the community.
Overall, we discussed interviews and similar data collection tools. Some people are doing surveys. However, I would say due to the small numbers of respondent and the spaces for people to explain their ideas that people reported they are making in their surveys - they are really more like web-based interviews. The questions and topics are not ones where the number of people thinking X is important. This is because you are trying to find out more about something (X) - Not trying to find what to think. And why would you just automatically think the same as the largest number of people anyway!! So, we confirmed that hearing what people thought was important to nearly everyone’s inquiry in Module Three: it is not about numbers (quantitative data) it is about the quality and depth of understanding (qualitative data).
But then people were worried about getting the 'right' data. The interviews (data) are not the answer. You are not going to people to piece together an answer for your inquiry. You have to question and analyse the data - you are using to ask why does someone say that, how they said, is it what the literature said, what perspective does what they are saying come from.
And where are 'you' in all this. You can't be invisible, non-bias, it’s your inquiry every choice you have made is 'bias'. it is not about disappearing and leaving it up to your participants to sort out for you through their answers. It is about being aware and reflective on your own presence in the research. How were you during the interview, did the weather affect you and how you spoke? Why did people say what they said and what response did you have and why that response? What did they challenge in your own assumptions. If it was exactly what you expected why??
In the PM chat we said it is like pieces of a puzzle (or adding spices to a pot) each bit of the inquiry - you, participants, literature, reflective journal - all add and mix together so you can discuss the topic with more knowledge at the end of the module than you could at the start.
We also pointed out that the literature is not to find someone to tell you the 'truth' or the 'history' of something. It is a 'truth' or a 'history' and there will be different versions. You are looking at the literature to find out what other people think. This is to use the literature to inform and question your own thinking.
Points we made at the end of the discussion were:
- Its about interpretation
- Not looking for the answer in the interviews - looking for new why questions?
- its like a jigsaw puzzle
- You can/have to be part of the picture
- Don't restrict yourself with the literature explore further afield - don't just have one source
- Us the literature to inform what you ask or look for in the data collection process.
- All you are doing now is part of the inquiry - it’s not clean and simple "I go out and ask questions and get the answer". It is messy full of questions and changes and thinking/feeling - because you are trying to find out something new to you.
Skypes with a Module One focus were on Monday. We asked Module three in the Tuesday discussions to write something useful or significant about Module One in the comments below on this post. If you are a Module Three and were not at the discussion you can still writing something in the comments below too – a gift to Module Ones…