If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Directions

Tonight was the 2nd event hosted by my practicum class. It was a panel discussion with two groups of experts discussing a topic important to the relationship between the two parties. The topic and how it plays out between the two groups is central to my research.

Since there is a power differential between the groups I was concerned the experts representing the subordinate group would be "shut down" in a public venue. So last Saturday I videotaped representatives of the subordinate group (no one that was actually on the panel) and then very quickly edited into an 8 minute videotape. I screened the video at the beginning of the event and then we held the discussion. The dominant group dominated but I believe the voices of the subordinate group were heard by the audience.

The video came out well for a first attempt. I obviously have much to learn but I like the possibilities and would like to incorporate more into my research agenda, especially in terms of dissemination.

I've also been creating poems out of a series of transcripts from this same research project. I started with a narrative analysis and found as I dug deeper and deeper into the participants' words that they worked as poems. I then applied this poem technique to transcripts from both parties and paired them for comparative purposes. The poetry really works well as a analytic technique. They strip the transcripts bare but leave a really clean and stark representation of each participant's main issue. The voice of the participant is strong and their story is revealed. This makes it easier to see both commonalities and differences within and across groups. I'm really digging this.

The class wants to do a reading of the poems and create a podcast that could be used for dissemination as well as in future programs. They have all picked the poems they would like to read.

Both the videotape and the poem analysis are new directions for my research. They are allowing me to understand the topic at a different level and to interact with both participants and audiences (end users of scientific knowledge) in new and interesting ways. I like the idea of making research more accessible and I believe both these techniques can help with that. I also love making research accessible to my students and working with them on ways to incorporate research and practice so they are not residing in different spheres.

I've "grown up" in my field hearing about the need to "bridge the gap between research and practice." Most solutions treat them as separate entities, with researchers needing to learn how to (1) translate findings and (2) listen to the expertise of practitioners, while practitioners are supposed to learn how to (1) understand some of the scientific jargon and (2) appreciate the answers science can provide (or as I like to say--learn to pray at the alter of science).

To me the concepts of research and practice are co-mingled along with issues of advocacy, creativity, and empowerment. I don't buy that they have to be different locations that need bridging.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

That sounds like an awesome idea! I like all of those. They sound so creative.