Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Developing lines of inquiry

The greatest challenge setting out on Module 2 is arriving at the topic of an inquiry that will interest and sustain you through to then end of the programme. Coming up with topics and thinking around questions is something that requires time. We ask that you talk to other’s in your SIG(s) – check out the facebook page Bobble has set up. There is a lot to be said in favor of raising questions about likely topics and supplementary questions that can be asked. Another resource you can use to sharpen your focus is to talk to your own professional networks about you ideas. Useful things can be recorded in your learning log / journal.  And of course another resource to explore is what is already known about your topic. What have others said in a published format – and here you will find the summon page on the library portlet you can access via MyUniHub.

A great quality to have in this endeavor is the one of curiosity – to develop an inquiring mind. Why should such a thing be? Is that the “truth” and so on.  Moreover, this develops a critical quality in your thinking, which is just what we are looking for in the programme.

Freakonomics is a marvelous read which illustrates the point most clearly. There are 6 chapters in the book which demonstrate so many of the qualities and practices you will need to develop as you proceed with the programme.  The subjects covered are diverse and links are made between various data sources and analysis of this throws up some surprising findings. In the Chapter on why drug dealers still live with their moms there are issues on research ethics and keeping the researcher safe. The researcher in question was rather na├»ve at the outset but in the end uncovered a great deal of useful data which otherwise would have been missed in the original project. So, flexibility is another key quality.

The book is a page turner and it’s written in a highly engaging style. While some of the findings are not surprising – some are, and they are all based on real evidence which has been interpreted and analysed.  I recommend Freakonomics to you as a means to understanding some of the more practical applications of inquiry and research alongside the processes involved including data analysis.

When you come to do your inquiry you will collect data which you yourself will be expected to analyse. To have an awareness of the entire process involved at this stage will help you in devising your plan.

Some points to look for in various titled chapters are:

Chapter 1: Teachers & Sumo Wrestlers – data analysis
Chapter 2: Klu Klux clan & Real Estate Agents – ethics of covert observation
Chapter 3:  Drug dealers living with their moms – the appropriateness of questions asked of participants in an inquiry
Chapter 4: Where have all the criminals gone – links between seemingly disparate events / facts
Chapter 5: What makes a perfect parent – drawing valid conclusions from contradictory evidence
Chapter 6: Perfect parenting Part 2: relating two data sets.

While Freakonomics has nothing to do with Professional Practice (Arts) – there is a great deal to learn from it in terms of asking questions, ethics, critical thinking, proper use of evidence and data. I would love to hear comments from you on this fascinating book ….

Friday, 22 February 2013

Campus Session 1 - Module 1

I suggest that all those interested should look at the post I made in October as the same ground was covered and the issues were relevant. It’s important to engage with Reader 1 as well the readings on the “Home” page on libguides for this module. We all look forward to seeing your blogs develop over the coming weeks.

Campus Session 1 - Module 2

The campus session gave everyone the chance to consider the likely topic of their inquiry. This module gives everyone the time and space to plan and think carefully about the topic they wish to explore and how they will go about it. Among the topics brought to the table and discussed yesterday were:

  • Success in Musical Theatre
  • Auditions
  • Nutrition
  • Continuing Professional Development in Performing Arts
  • Black Women in Acting
  • Transitioning from Performance to Teaching
  • Impact of teaching dance on education
  • Learning styles in dance informing teaching strategies

All the topics raised more questions than answers and the discussion showed that people can learn from each other by doing this in order to narrow focus more acutely.  Bobbie offered to develop a page on Facebook in order to allow these discussions to unfold – so look out for more information on this.

Otherwise, we agreed that finding material in the library would be useful in helping focus more on the topic and reference was made to the programme handbook which contains advice on the Harvard system of referencing.

It’s time now to focus on the topic and to get talking to classmates and other professionals in your network and listen to their contributions. It’s equally important to contribute to other discussions when invited.

Campus Session 2 will focus on Ethics which is the next theme of the course.