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Levelling up? …. perhaps not. March 12, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in research, TELIC.
Tags: , , , , , ,
I’m at the point in the research for my dissertation where I’m starting to raise some of the initial codes from pupil feedback to conceptual codes. These initial codes are ‘in vivo’ codes i.e. they are not my interepetations of situations or comments that participants made, they arose from the comments themselves.  My next task is to try to ascribe meaning to what these codes are telling me.  One way to do that is to create lots of sticky notes, pop them on a wall and begin to juggle them around into different configurations until conceptual categories begin to emerge.  Actually since this is a study following a social constructivist grounded theory approach, it might be more appropriate to say that I’m working with those codes to help them tell their story and that of those who produced them.

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I thought using LinoIt might provide a more efficient way of storing my changing thoughts, adding to them and allow categorising in different ways. (They also might be less likely to get blown off the wall when I open a window!)  Not surprisingly, there’s also a LinoIt app which allows me to download my walls onto my iPod Touch and view and think about them whilst I’m out and about.

Well what have I come up with so far?  My first impressions are that pupils don’t seem to think about learning consciously; there’s little evidence of metacognition. When charged to do so through these interviews, using photographs as stimulus material, they tend to associate learning with other activities i.e. it happens as a result of doing something else … reading, making notes, listening, discussing etc. They also feel they are engaged in those processes whilst involved in a range of tasks which can be practical, physical, interactive etc.  There’s also some recognition of activities which support the learning process and somehow supplement the primary activity.

I wonder to what extent this is indicative of the way we do things in school. We may say we’re going to learn about the different styles of WWI poets for example and then go on to undertake a sequence of activities which will allow our students to do just that.  But maybe we then get so involved in comparing and contrasting, and all the other elements of language and literature, that the act of learning is forgotten; consigned to the ‘Learning to learn’ lessons they had two years ago in Y7.  So when the students are asked to describe the learning they see going on in photographs, they simply see the activities they associate with learning.  There’s no idea what was going on whilst they were ‘discussing’ that resulted in some change or other … or perhaps I simply haven’t dug that deep in the interviews as yet?

The next step for me is to produce a similar pinboard with the codes *I* produced from the interviews, rather than the in vivo codes of the participants. Will I see similar patterns? Am I seeing these things because of my preconceptions?  My grounded theory approach will require me to take these initial concepts back to the data and explore the degree of fit, bearing in mind those concerns. I’ll also be comparing the two sets of codes and whether the conceptual codes apply equally across them all – these are elements of the constant comparative process.  My next interviews will be focused on testing these emergent ideas, exploring their boundaries and seeing whether what hasn’t been said is simply because I haven’t asked the right questions, we don’t have the images to hang explanations on or that my notions of what is missing simply shouldn’t be there anyway.



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