Discusssion – methodologies of research

Coming to terms with, and recognising, that ethnographic research places the researchers in a dual position – we are the subject of the research as well as the object – has been, and continues to be, a challenge.

There have been many variables including:

1. the tutors. Cathy, Yvonne and Mo have each arrived at the project with different experiences of both undertaking research and using technology in the classroom.

2. the students. The student groups used are all very different. The two 16-18 year old groups vary wildly – from a low level ESOL group to a E3-L2 (first language) group. The adult groups have been equallly diverse in backgrounds and needs.

3. comparing last year with this year. For last year’s project, Cathy reflected on the methodologies of the project but can clearly see where she was outside of the project (eg when interviewing the tutors and students). But this year, she is fully immersed as an object of the research. Yvonne is much more comfortable in accepting her dual role as subject and object as the research. Mo, joining the project later in the year, her role is a little more blurred. It isn’t clear if Cathy and Yvonne are the researchers, researching Mo’s experiences, or if Mo is an ‘equal’ researcher.

4. the data. Because the data has predominently come through our meetings, the reflective blogs written throughout the project and our discussions of feedback from the students it feels to be an ever-growing beast. When analysing the data we woud find ourselves creating more data – the ‘data’ was never a finished, it just kept growing. This is seen as a strength of ethnography but it can also be a key limitation.


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