Monday, 2 May 2016

Questions for final submission and presentation…. Would love your help!

Hi all!

I have a list of questions I am waiting for responses to regarding final submission and our oral presentation. I thought I may turn here to see if any of you know the answers...

Critical Review - 
1. In all of my paper work I have 2 different names/word count for the ROL section of the Critical Review. In the Handbook it is called 'Critical Reflection' and asks for 700 words, in a blog from Adesola it is called 'Reflection of learning essay' and asks for 800 words. Are these the same things? 

Submission for Professional Artefact -
1. If I recall a conversation with Helen, this does not need to be submitted until I am at MDX in person on May 12th, is that correct? I do I need to submit it on May 6th with my Critical Review?
I see on Unihub that you submit it if it is applicable to do so. Since mine is a video, can I submit this in person on May 12?
2. Is a USB an acceptable form of submission? My artefact is a video and cover page, and I know for sure it will be too large to email.

Oral Presentation - 
1. I will be presenting using Powerpoint. Do I do this from my own computer? Or do I need to have it on a USB to transfer and play on someone else's computer? 
2. Do we need to have a layout of the oral presentation, if so, is this to be submitted? 
4. I would like to show a clip of my Artefact in the Oral (video - QuickTime), again, can I do this from my own computer or do I need to transfer it to someone else's?

Final question - I am concerned that my devices, being from North America may not be compatible in the UK. Have you ever run into this problem? I will save my Critical Review, Oral Presentation and Artefact on a USB, External Harddrive, my computer and possibly Dropbox just to be safe. 

Thanks for your help everyone:)
I am excited to meet you all in a week! 

Friday, 8 April 2016

Sunday's (April) Skype - Data collection + & -

I am almost a week late getting to this blog, sorry!

In preparing for this past Skype session I felt very nervous and anxious. With only a month left in the term and my final paper and presentation due just around the corner, I was terrified that I would go into the Skype and find out I am doing everything wrong! I have to say I was very relieved when it turned out to be only Helen, Lisa and myself! And as an extra bonus, I left the conversation feeling encouraged and ready to tackle this final month!

It was interesting hearing from Lisa about her research topic and her struggle with the process of selecting research methodologies and data collection tools. As we were chatting Helen asked me to share emu experience with this same process and how each worked out in reality.

This got me thinking in terms of my final Critical review and ROL. How did each method and tool work in relation to my inquiry and process? So I thought I would share my thoughts as my 'following the Skype blog entry'.

First of all, before I get into the nitty gritty of research, I will let you know what my topic is. I chose to look into the relationship between modern and ballet technique in adolescent dance training. Firstly, I wished to understand and define who adolescents are and what exactly do they go through in this stage of development. Then I brought this awareness with me as I looked further into ballet and modern technical training. What are some benefits of each, why do students enrol in each discipline, what (if any) concepts cross between the two techniques, etc…. I won't share my findings just yet, as I don't want to spoil the surprise :)

I conducted Qualitative research from a non-positivist (embodied) approach and phenomenological perspective. Taking into account each participants experience with the subject and point of view.
With this I used Grounded Theory and Narrative Inquiry as my research methods. Grounded theory allowed the data to speak for itself, developing meaning and theory from the data. Narrative inquiry was an essential method for my research in that it made space for each participants own experience to be narrated within the data.

The data collection tools I used (other then reflection and literature) were: 
Class observations
Open interviews (group and individual)

For the sake of our conversation on Sunday, I would like to share my experience with each tool in relation to my research.

#1 - Class observation:
Before I began my data collection phase, naively I assumed that class observations would be the most useful tool and that they would provide a substantial amount of information. They did not. I found it incredibly difficult to remain subjective and not let my own biases or thoughts get in the way while I was observing. As well, what I wished to find through observations was rarely present. I gained permission to sit in on all of the ballet and modern classes that included my student participants, who we call our Vocational 2 students. I chose this group in particular as they consist of students ages 12-17 (at the beginning of the research, now 13-18), which is the exact age span that is considered by most as adolescence.
As well, another obstacle that I faced with class observations was that in all 3 weekly ballet classes, the students were working on set exercises from the Intermediate RAD and ISTD syllabi, in preparation for examinations. So there was a sense of structure and urgency that I had not anticipated, as well as a fixed structure that did not give much room for other things to take place outside of syllabus work.

One highlight of observations was the ability to spend concentrated time as an outside eye in class. As a teacher I never seem to make time for this. Moving forward I intend on making this a priority in my own practice. I think there is so much value in not only learning from other's teaching practices but also seeing my students in other classes revealed strengths, weakness and much more, that I have miss when I am teaching them in my own class.

#2 - Open Interviews
I conducted 1 group interview with 4 of the instructors from my studio who were participants in my research, as well as individual interviews with each of them and 3 other peers in the community.
These interviews were brilliant! I loved this experience. It was so enlightening sitting down for 1 hour with each teacher, digging into my inquiry and learning from each of their experiences. This was a very enriching process not only for the data I collected by also for my own professional practice.
I recorded each of these interviews and transcribed them verbatim. This was a VERY long process! But extremely beneficial! I tend to forget things easily when hear in conversation. So taking the time to sit down and type out each interview helped me retain more of what was said and hear things in a new light. Also, then once I began data analysis I had tangible paper to look through and highlight, underline, star… etc.
The only issue I became aware of during the data analysis process was that I wish I would have allowed more time for response. Listening back, I noticed that either myself or the others would cut off the other persons though with a new though or question. Or if the participant was taking too long with a question or thought I tended to move on to another thought. If I were to do this again, I would slow down, allow time for the question or thought to sink in to the participant and really allow space for a full response. I would hold back and try not to jump in as often.

With the students I conducted 3 group interviews. Originally I chose a group structure for these interviews because I felt it took into consideration their comfort with each other and potential willingness to share amongst their peers. Through this process I gained loads of incredible information from my students own experiences and thoughts that was influential in my research. However, looking back and now having a great understanding of the development they are going through, I would reconsider the group structure. Adolescence is a time of identity building in which they have a lack of confidence and shaky self-esteem, and most importantly they become fully aware of others and compare themselves to others much more often. Now that I am aware of this and have gone through this experience with them, where I have seen some students become very quiet and hesitant to talk, I would consider doing individual interviews with each student. It would take more time, but I feel it may be a safer more ethical approach to take.
Again, I transcribed each of these interviews verbatim.

#3 - Surveys/Questionnaires 
Another tool that I used that was very useful was surveys or questionnaires. I guess mine were more of a questionnaire. I gave my teacher participants 1 and my students 2 (the second was a follow up later on in my data collection phase when I had more questions for them). I gave the participants 2 weeks to complete the surveys in order to keep their busy schedules in mind. This process worked very well and I gathered some great information.
Through analyzing the forms I did notice that some of the more quiet students in the interviews had a much stronger voice on paper. They seemed more willing to share their thoughts and experiences through this means of communication. I am not sure if this was because they were more comfortable with writing, because they were not being judged by peers, or why… ? But I felt it was an interesting note to make. And again, if I am ever to do this again, I would keep that in mind and maybe offer opportunity for either an interview or questionnaire depending on the students comfort level.

I am going to continue to reflect on this as I tackle the 'research context' portion of Critical review tomorrow. If I have more thoughts I will post them!
But for now I am off to bed so I can get an early start writing tomorrow!

Less then 1 month to go!!!! Yikes…..

Ainsley :)

Sunday, 6 March 2016

March Skype - Professional Artefact


That is best way to describe where I am at right now after our Skype yesterday. Thankfully I have come to this same place of "ummmm……." many times throughout this MA journey, so I am not freaking out (this time at least). I thought I was doing so well and on the right track - finally starting to narrow in on the main themes appearing within my data and dreaming up ideas for my Artefact. However I am now afraid I don't fully understand the intention of the Artefact, or that what I thought it was is not actually what it needs to be. If that makes any sense?

My understanding was that the Professional Artefact is a visual representation of the data. Something that you created once you had analyses the data, found the overarching themes and began to summarize it all into written form. And since dance is a visual art, a written paper probably not best depict the research process or findings - so a visual representation is created along side the written. Some one, I can't remember who, within the past year and a half mentioned on one of our Skype calls that the Pro Artefact is something that could be shown to an outsider and after observing they would have a pretty good idea about the research as a whole.
This has always stuck with me.

However now I am lost and am trying to sort out my own thoughts to figure out if my ideas for an artefact are 'wrong', meaning I don't understand it (the Artefact) properly, or if they could work but need more thought put in to them.

In yesterday's Skype Adesola mentioned that it would be good to look back over blogs of past MAPPer's and the advisors. So I did that last night. I found a blog on Adesola's page from Nov 2, 2014 titles "An Artefact of the morning Skype session!!". In it she gives a definition for what the work Artefact means… "Artefact means an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest - the culture being your work culture." In this blog she gave a few examples of Artefacts - an instillation, choreographic process/method or children's book. Adesola then went on to explain… "In making your artefact you should find deeper meaning to your research because just as you writing it for the University Artefact you become clearer about what it is so too as you make your work place artefact young find new ways to look at the research and become clearer about it." 
I also found a post on Amanda Tooms-Peel's blog about a revelation she had after teaching one night. She had been encouraging her students to "think about your presentation as being something of a lesson to the audience, remember that not everyone in the audience will know what you've been steadying or working on for the whole term and they won't understand unless you tell them the ins and outs of it all." This comment revealed to her the purpose of the oral presentation and professional artefact.

These two blog posts got me thinking. I now feel the artefact has two main purposes - to clarify my findings and to make them teachable to someone removed from my research. I am also reminded that as the researcher I am completely embedded within my own research. By the end of this I will know my research in and out!!!! However, no one else will know my research like I do. So when creating the written portion, oral presentation and professional artefact my job as researcher is to make my findings digestible for everyone else.

This being said…. where do I go from here?
I feel a sense of urgency - with spring break just around the corner, my trip to NYC with students happening the week before the deadline and I fly to the UK, recitals to prepare, only 2 months left in the term and a deadline looming…

I understand Adesola and Helen when the say not to rush this process but to really absorb the data before deciding on an artefact. However I am worried I will run out of time! As much as I want to just go full steam ahead - I have to trust that in waiting the answers will come. So for now I will push pause on the artefact, stew in my data and begin formulating my thoughts into written form.

Well, I hope that was useful or entertaining at least! haha :)  If anyone has any frustrations, thoughts or brilliant ideas about the artefact I would love to hear them! Share away!!!


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Skype chat - Get moving!

Hello all!

Well we are officially back at it! And for many of us we are heading towards the finish line.

In today's evening Skype group chat there seemed to be an overall consensus that getting back into the swing of things is a challenge this time around. Although we are all at a different stage of the journey - some beginning Mod 1, some moving on to Mod 2, some moving from Mod 2 into 3, and others getting back into Mod 3 after some time off - we seem to all be experiencing the same struggle - getting moving!

Hayley mentioned that coming back from having time away from her data and research she is coming back into Module 3 with evolved thinking and a new out look on her research. This comment made me recognize my own evolution of thought and understanding as I have progressed through this MA. I now more then ever understand Helen and Adesola's comments from the beginning of this process, explaining that this MA is about opening doors, broadening our perspective and extending possibilities RATHER then re-affirming what we already know or trying to prove a point. I think I have mentioned this before - but the more I learn and experience, the less I feel I know and the shakier my ground feels! While this can be frightening and unnerving, it is refreshing in away. I don't always have to have the answer. And in terms of this MA, I won't have an answer, just thoughts… an outlook… a perspective… some revelations towards my own practice possibly?

Ok, back to getting moving. Personally I have found that digging into my data - reading the surveys and interviews - has allowed me to get re-immersed in my research. However, I almost feel as though I am downing in data!!! I wonder what the average amount of data is for Module 3? I am feeling like maybe I have too much? Can others in Module 3 share about how much data they have collected for their research?

Cathi Ingram posted a blog a few weeks ago celebrating her finishing her MA and encouraging the rest of us to keep going! In her blog she mentioned that in Module 3 her husband became her gate-keeper, fending off family, friends etc that may pull her away from her research. As well, she came to realize that she may need to miss dinners, events etc in order to remain focused on her MA work. While I do not have a gate-keeper, I used this idea and in red ink wrote MA beside free days in my diary - agreeing with myself that I will commit each of these days to my research. And I have told myself that I need to start practicing saying "no". This is hard for me, especially when it comes to socializing! But for the next 2-3 months school is priority. The gate is closed! At least just for the time being :)

As I continue to analyze my data I am beginning to notice that I am struggling to organize my thoughts, remain critical and avoid projecting my own assumptions and ideas on the data/research. These are 3 main areas that I need to focus on while continuing with analysis and beginning to formulate my thoughts into writing.  Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions regarding this? Especially how to be critical but still get the work done and not allow your thoughts and ideas to get away from you?

Merde everyone! I look forward to reading all of your thoughts as well and meeting some of you in May :)


Monday, 11 January 2016

Data analysis, Coding etc…. Help requested :)

Hi all!
I am beginning my data analysis and coding and would love some advice, input or ideas on how you went about doing this. My plan is to go through all of my data first, then take note of common themes, ideas or findings that pop out at me and consider those as categories. Then from there try to narrow them down to a few main categories. Does that sound about right?

Sarah, I am not sure if you will see this, but I tried printing out your Rhizome and it was quite blurry. I would love your feedback and input on how this worked for you. I would really like to give it a try!

Thanks MAPPers!
And congrats to those who have completed Module 3! Merde for the presentations! Wish I could be there in person :(  But will be in May!    


Monday, 7 December 2015

Data Analysis and other things...

Hello all,

 I felt that yesterday's Skype session (evening) was extremely informative. Having decided to take a step back and defer my submission to May, I am a step behind most who are in Module 3. So hearing about where each of you are at and the experiences you have had with data analysis and writing really helped me understand what lies ahead. I took many notes during our Skype that I am sure will be useful as I move forward through Module 3. So thank you everyone :)

To be honest, amongst the hustle and bustle of life I often forget about our blogs and Linkedin. However when I do take the time to sit down and read through each of your blogs, I become inspired and motivated not just about blogging but about our MA and the dance world in general. It is refreshing reading blogs of people I have never met, yet seem to be living very similar experiences to myself. That is the beauty of dance, I feel it is a thread that ties people together into a community of similar thinkers, movers and feelers - even if these people never meet. Does that make sense?

Feeling like I have nothing to say in my blog, I decided to read through everyone else's first. I was pleasantly surprised to read that many of you have had the same feelings towards blogs that I have. What is this? I don't know what to say. Why do I need to do this. I loved reading Sarah and Suzy's blogs about their process of overcoming these thoughts and realizing how liberating blogging can be. And that writing can be an extension of our thoughts, discoveries and experiences. I believe it was Sarah who said she doesn't consider herself to be extremely creative. I feel yah! I say the same thing about myself. Which I have come to realize is a lie. No, I may not seem as creative as some of my peers, but I am creative in my own way. And I think it is lies like this one that stop us from doing things that we are not comfortable with or feel we have nothing to share. This is my experience with blogs. I often feel as though, "Why would anyone want to read about…?" So I don't share. But a big part of this MA is reflecting, sharing and encouraging others. Actually not just this MA but life. I also think that the stigma of over-sharing opinions online has hindered my desire to want to blog. So I am continually having to remind myself that this is different. This blog is for those who are walking through the same journey as myself and it actually can be a useful tool for both myself and other MAPPers.

Ok, on to the part that I am supposed to be writing about. Data analysis. Having not officially begun my data analysis, I can not necessarily speak to my specific experience with it, but more to the advise and ideas that I received from others during our Skype call.
The reason I have not been able to move onto Data analysis yet is because silly me, I decided to transcribe all of my audio recorded interviews. Each is about 1 hour in length, which takes me 5-6 hours to type. I am down to my last 3 interviews, and am now realizing I really should have thought of a better way of doing this! hahah, but it is too late now. I am almost done :) Even though this has been an incredibly long and strenuous job, it has been very enjoyable. It is one thing to sit and talk with someone, but to then spend 6 hours typing out the conversation word for word is really eye opening and enlightening. I feel that this process will actually assist me when it comes time to sort through all of my data, because I will be able to recall and identify details from each interview. I read in Louise's blog that she is under the same stress with her video recordings. Good luck Louise!

I am curious how much data you each had? I am beginning to worry that I may have too much!!!

Analysis - In our Skype conversation we were talking about the need for being thorough when sorting data and selective or strict with ourselves when choosing which findings to include in our final project. I believe it was Mary and Cathi who were having the conversation about literature. Cathi was mentioning that the more she analysis her data and finds new literature to back up her findings, she ends up with new trains of thoughts and new information to add to her project. Mary reflected back on her experience with completing Module 3 and recommended that Cathi (and the rest of us) be selective and stick with the literature that first stood out to her. What first inspired, enlightened or confirmed the idea is the literature that one should focus on. Would this also be something to consider for data analysis, coding and selecting what to include in the final project? I am not sure. We did talk about the fact that as we sort through our data and create themes, themes may emerge that were not considered when the proposal was created or data collection began. And some of these themes may actually be more prevalent then others that were assumed to appear. This is the exciting thing about research! I have already noticed in my own data collection that there are ideas coming forth that I did not expect. I am excited to sit down in the next few months and begin analyzing my data. But to be honest, I am extremely intimidated about this process because I feel I may be inundated with data, thoughts and directions!!! ahhhh……   Any advise?
Thank you Sarah for sharing your Rhizome with us. I am definitely going to use that!

The last thing I want to share is an image I had earlier in November that led to my decision to defer. I had been dealing with a sever back injury, a completely full schedule and a brain on overload when one night in my sleep I had this beautiful image come to me. Here is what I wrote….

It is like I am scuba diving in the Caribbean - I am at the bottom of the ocean taking in the beauty of the coral reefs, fish, and amazing things. It is so beautiful and enjoyable that I don't want to come up - however my time and air is running out so I must begin to ascend. This ascension takes time, it must be a slow controlled and perfectly timed process or there are consequences. When I reach the surface I can breath again and consider all that I have just experienced! The make my way back to the boat and call it a day!

I feel I am still at the bottom of the ocean taking in the beauty, but I know that I am running out of time! However I need to take my time ascending - sifting through the data, really digging into the analysis process and literature. For me I feel this stage will be important in order to really look at my data and get the most out of it that I can. Then I can reach the surface and begin to formulate my thoughts. And finally, make my way to Middlesex to share it with you all. I was wavering back and forth between January or May and realized, I am in no hurry! I had planned this whole year for school anyway. I know that if I rush to finish in January I will not do anywhere near my best work, nor will I enjoy it! What I am learning is so incredible and intriguing, I want to continue to learn and grow and develop my practice. And I know that if I rush to complete, this will not happen for me to the extent that it could if I gave myself more time.

Merde everyone on this final push to the end of term! I felt a little sad yesterday during our Skype thinking that some of these familiar voices may not be around next term! So hopefully some of you will pop into our Skype calls from time to time. And I may be reaching out to some of you for advice on Module 3!

Best of luck with your final presentations! Merde :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Hello all,

As a follow up to our Skype this past weekend I have chosen to write about my understanding of literature and our research project. During our Skype we all came to consensus that we are struggling finding literature that is directly related to each of our topics, we are becoming overwhelmed by the enormous amount of ideas that come up within the literature, and we are finding that there are holes within the literature. It is these holes that our own research will help fill. By researching literature outside of our specific topic we can create our own thoughts and voice and use this to begin to fill these holes.

Understanding we will not find the answers we are looking for in literature, Helen gave us an image to consider. Literature is just an ingredient that is added to the bigger product that I am making. It will help add spice, making the flavour deeper and adding richness.

This image has helped me not feel as overwhelmed as I was previously. I am still struggling to find literature that related to part of my research, but will continue to see out sources that may be applicable even if not directly related. I believe this still has the ability to open up my mind and help me create my owns voice to eventually help fill in some of those holes within dance research.