Friday, 26 February 2010

Inspire Topic

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Still trying to find a research topic?

Paula and Peter have posted more helpful advice on this topic recently in advance of the next Campus Session (March 3rd). I came across this journal which is available from our library. The topics that are covered by the journal are as follows:

Studies of Dancers
Dance and Movement
Dance and Music
Dance History and Social History
Folk Dance
Injuries, Fitness and Nutrition Studies
Performance Technique
The Sociology of Dance
The Anthropology of Dance

Perhaps looking at these categories could help you focus on a topic you would like to investigate. For instance under the topic - "Sociology of Dance" is there a relation between type of dance e.g. ballet or hip-hop and social class? Or in relation to dance and music - which came first the music or the dance? Or indeed is there a link between nutrition and dance performance?

PS. I found this journal from the Society for Dance Research web page.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Literature Review

The literature is an important part of learning about your research topic.
Up to now you have had lots of advice on the above. There was Paula Nottingham’s talk at Campus Session 1 on 16th Feb. Her presentation is available from her blog and gives lots of advice on how to find the literature from the resources in Middlesex.
The Middlesex library subject guides list is extensive and you may find yourself consulting more than one of the 43 subject guides. For instance if you are in the discipline of Dance Performance, then clearly you will need to consult the Dance subject guide. However if you wanted to explore setting up a dance school then you would want to consult the Business and Management subject guide as well. Or if you wanted to explore the teaching of dance then you would need to consult the Education guide. Have a look at the list of subject guides from this link and see which you may need to look at. Looking at the list may also help you to think laterally about topics for your research project.
Secondly there is a link to Internet Detective which is an online tutorial to guide you into accessing quality materials on the Web. Thirdly, there is the video clip from Alan Durrant on this blog earlier today.
When you actually find the literature the following points might prove helpful.
1. Skim read by checking the index (if it’s a book), the table of contents, headings and subheadings throughout the piece. The introduction and conclusion would also be helpful to read and then focus in on the heart of the piece.
2. Take notes as you skim read to aid your understanding. Later you can come back to these notes and decide what the article is really about.
3. Read and quickly come to the point where you can you can sum up the kernel of the piece in one sentence – this takes practice.
4. Note the bibliographic citation (Author, Title, Where Published, Date of Publication). Check this following link to guidance on referencing,
5. Decide what contribution it’s making to your topic. What angle is it taking?
6. Then you need to construct a narrative about the literature – check this link from the University of Toronto on how to approach a Literature Review
I heard a former colleague of mine at Queen’s University Belfast (Caitlin Donnelly) describe the literature review very well. She suggested thinking of it as having authors around for a dinner party and in the discussion (about your topic) they each offered an opinion or threw some light upon it. Some were in agreement but others were not. When the dinner party is over you recount the discussion for a friend and that account is the basis for your written literature review.

Alan speaks about the Literature .....

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Campus Session 1 - 16th Feb 2010

The guidance notes I used at this session are viewable ....

Campus Session 1 - 16th Feb 2010

I facilitated a short session on "Choosing a Research Topic". Here are the slides I used in this session

Greta Garbo came to Donegal

What a great title for a play! So of course I had to go to see it at the Tricycle in Kilburn last night. Frank McGuinness is the playwright and earlier plays of his that I really enjoyed are the "Factory Girls", "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme" and "Someone to Watch over me". But back to Garbo. The arrival of the great actress in 1967 to a house in Donegal signals much drama. Many themes are brought up in the play (too many?) – such as the oppressor and the oppressed, queer desire and love, sibling loyalty and loss, parental loss, and the ache to escape from the daughter in the piece. There are poignant moments in the play with many relationships explored. The two most aching are the female ones – the mother - daughter relationship and the actress - housekeeper one. Greta Garbo had some great lines delivered in a gloomy Swedish deadpan kind of way. The play constantly takes the audience in unexpected directions and while it’s flawed in that it attempts to take on too much, it is nonetheless a great night in the theatre. The humour and the poignancy were well delivered by the excellent cast.

Friday, 12 February 2010

On the shoulders of giants...

Reading around your research topic can be helpful in helping you decide on the focus of your project. The internet is an obvious place to start your search. There is a wealth of information but you should be cautious about the quality of the information you find. Internet detective is a useful online tutorial which will provide you guidance on authority of sources found on the internet. So take some time out to work through this tutorial.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Making a living

How performers and artists get by between performances and commissions .... a recent article in the Guardian

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Research topic ideas

This short slide show might unlock topic ideas ....

Monday, 8 February 2010

Imagining a research project

All projects have a situation. This is located in the workplace / professional practice. One such I came across recently was in a high school in Minnesota. It started with two teachers being curious about the disconnection that students had between what they learned in the studio and their ability to transfer that into performance. The teachers observed that there was greater student voice in dance composition than in dance performance and that feedback was lacking in performance practice. They had a hunch that structuring practice time and encouraging independent learning might help the students. The researchers read what experts had to say about peer learning in order to deepen their own understanding and to enable rigour in their research design as well as providing focus on their research objective. The research question they settled upon was what effect would peer coaching have on performance. The research design led them to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The methods were:

Initial and final student surveys
Pre & post intervention assessments
Teachers’ journals
Field notes from educators
Student Reflection Sheets

All this data was triangulated and analysed and the findings were that “using peer coaching positively affects final performances, classroom community and the revision process ..”

The research article is easy to read and is the final outcome of what required a great deal of thought and application in planning. It’s available from the Middlesex Library to registered students from the e-journals collection. Here is the reference if you wish to have a look at it.

Harding, M.; Haven, B. (2009) “The effects of peer coaching in the secondary arts classroom: intentional watching in the dance studio”. Journal of Dance Education. Vol. 9 Issue 2, p41-51

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Setting up a Dance Company?

Selling a creation?

Then read on....

Middlesex University Business Education Centre (MUBEC) is organising a series of “Business Plan Competitions”. This will be a perfect chance for you to get those brilliant, revolutionary or even those crazy ideas evaluated. The club is currently working on the first and the biggest Middlesex University Business Plan Competition in association with sponsors, and will give away exciting awards including up to £5000!!!
The competition is on 11th of February 2010 in room C211 (Hendon), at 6pm.
Fill in and return the membership form and give it to MUBEC team members in the Rickett’s quadrangle along with the joining fee. Or send your name, student number and email address to:

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Virtual Revolution

This has been mentioned on Paula Nottingham's blog as well as the Professional Practice blog of Alan Durrant. Here is a LINK to the resources of the programme itself which includes its own blog.

Modes of Knowledge?

Universities have been accused of being elitist and over protective of knowledge and learning. However, the recognition and validation of work based learning has been more than welcome. Outside the ivory towers of the university, every day, in small and big ways, in work places and professional practice, discoveries and new knowledge are being unearthed and the university has now shifted into a position where this is formally accredited. This brings into play the distinction between Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge as proposed by Michael Gibbons – see link to short slide show for a brief explanation of the features of both these modes. Which of these two modes do you consider yourself working in? Why? What are the advantages? What are the challenges?

Monday, 1 February 2010

The New Learning Period ...

I have just completed reading and assessing a range of research projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and it’s clear that the range of topics is as diverse as the individuals we work with. They covered many subjects including learning and teaching, curriculum design, health and nutrition, choreography and method acting. Research design was varied as well and included interviews, experimental design, observation and surveys. Projects necessarily engage with the key literature of the topic and with the research method literature. I look forward to the next Learning Period with my colleagues Paula Nottingham and Peter Bryant with our BA in Professional Practice as you start the module Project Planning and Development (Research Methods) which prepares you for the project itself. I am also looking forward to working with a group of teachers in a particular school in Essex in the coming weeks on the same module.