Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Learning welding #4 - Deconstructing video data

We are now in the process of transcribing relevant video data. At present, doing this by watching and then coding snippets which we have identified as of relevance to our study. We are following steps suggested in Erickson’s (2006) recommendations for the steps to take when analysing video data and Jae Major’s advise. Snippets are tracked by recording time code. The columns in our transcript table are to record the time code, transcribe any conversations / interactions / verbal outputs, record activity being undertaken and record any non-verbal actions.

The next step is to study the above for patterns. Time codes can be matched to verbal transcripts, activities and non-verbal actions. Frequency of activities / non-verbal actions may provide some patterns. Verbal outputs are studied for themes. We have started to match activities and non-verbal actions to verbal themes. This provides for a better representation of the ‘whole’ picture of how interactions take place.

There will be a need at some stage to break the above down into more precise categories. In non-verbal activities, there is a need to code for the various forms of kinesics and haptics which are the predominant non-verbal activities.

Transcription of the video data takes an inordinate amount of time!! My speed is around 10 minutes for each minute of video. Flip, who is learning the process, takes double my time. In comparison, I usually take about 2 to 3 minutes to transcribe each minute of interview audio recording. This warns us about the need to be very precise as to our overall purpose for using video for gathering research evidence. Not that serendipity will be ignored :) but focus will be important in order not to be bogged down with large amounts of evidence and too many disparate themes to follow through. With the welding class in recess, we will have time over the Easter to re-evaluate our research question / purpose and begin next term with a better focus on the types of activities we will record.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ako Aotearoa - Spotlight on tertiary teaching in Canterbury & beyond

The Ako Aotearoa Academy (Canterbury chapter) organised a 'Spotlight on Tertiary Teaching' funded by Ako Aotearoa and Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub.  Over 160 tertiary educators from Universities (Canterbury (UC), Lincoln & Otago), Polytechs (CPIT, Nelson, Southland) and various provide providers attended the event.

Ako Aotearoa was also represented by Dr. Peter Coolbear & the academy represented by president, Donna Buckingham.  The event was fully sponsored so there were no registration fees, which assisted many part-time educators and teachers working in private training institutions to attend.  In all, a grand celebration of the diversity of educational offerings available in NZ plus a showcase of educator's student centred teaching philosopies.The event was opend with a welcome from Ngahiwi Apanui (Kaijautu Maori for Ako Aotearoa) & Dr. Juliet Gerard representing the organising committee.

Dr. Tim Bell and Dr. Angus McIntosh convened the first session which was a dual stream session of presentations.  I attended the sessions in Stream A which included Derek Chirnside's entertaining presentation on Vygotsky: A physicist encounters the world of educational research. Dr. Ruth Zanker from CPIT on immersive learning environments for Broadcasting communications students, Dr. Ben Kennedy from UC using clickers & presenting on Carl Weiman's science education iniative, Haani Huata's (CPIT) wonderful presentation on using song and dance to 'transmit' intergenerational knowledge and Carol Acheson (Otago) on academic skill development for mature post-graduate students.

In the other stream, there were presentations from Dr. Niki Davis (UC) on using blended learning, Dr. Catherine Moran (UC) on tertiary teaching from classroom to community, John Grant on tertiary education opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities, Dr. Glen Koorey (UC) on engaging the engineering industry as students and teachers  and Dr. Simon Kingham (UC) on service-leanring.

Dale Sheehan and myself then faciitated a sesssion on 'lifting your game' which focused on unpacking individual teachers' philosophies on teaching.  Dr. Marjorie Manthei (retired from CPIT) provided the background.  Four panel members provided examples of their teaching philosophies.  They were Dr. Tim Wilkinson (UC) on teaching doctors, Phil Healey (tutor of the year for the NZ private education providers association) presented on teaching digital literacy skills, Te Rita Paphesh presented a good overview of Maori pedagogy and Stephen Byers (CPIT) on teaching level 2 students on a pre-trade electrical industry supply programme. The audience then worked in groups to distill and discuss their own philosophies.

The last session was a panel discussion brought together by Dr. Eric Pawson & Dr. Roger Nokes. Each panel member responded to a question which would then be discussed by the audience.  A summary of responses will be collated & sent to CEOs of the institutions represented by the participants to the event.  Anna Boyd (student at UC) responded to the question ' what should a student-centred institution look like?', Alan Walker (principal of Early Childhood School) responded to the question 'what would you do to enhance teaching with a large financial windfall!' Dr. Jan Cameron (UC) presented a thought provoking response to 'How should we incentivise teaching?' & Mary Kensington (CPIT) responded to the question "what do you do to lift your game as a teacher' with examples of how midwifery had to work to incorporate distance/flexible delivery into their programme.

The event closed with a short summary from Dr. Peter Coolbear and a farewell song from Haani Huata.

All in, informal feedback indicate there is a space for this event on the tertiary teachers' calendar for next year (and for as long as funding is available).  I was especially encouraged by the many educators from private providers who attended. Many are keen to network and events like this provide a good opportunity for people from the diverse sectors of tertiary education to share ideas, challenges and solutions.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Visual sociology, anthropology and ethnography

A related research area to multimodal discourse analysis is the area of visual sociology. This is the study of various kinds of visual material and the visual social world. Other support sites of visual sociology approaches include a repository of research  materials. Other sites include one from Anna Pechurina and a survey of visual research methods by Marcus Banks. So of some relevance to our project but more as a sideline.

However, the above led me to the book by Sarah Pink "Doing visual ethnography: Images, media and representation in research" parts of which are available via Google books.   Which led on to the area of visual anthropology which has active Association providing access to papers on the topic.

Will file these into the interesting to know about folder and explore them in greater detail once we have more practice with data analysis methods for the video evidence we are collecting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Txtsys ehand - text messaging service for audience polls

From textually org comes news of ehand from txtsys, a local Christchurch company. The company provides a service which allows customers to text feedback / comments back to hospitality / retail providers. Obviously also useful for feedback from lecture / conference audiences.

Audience / users pay the usual cost of a text message and the company pays txtsys $65 a month for the service. So probably cost effective only for programmes with large numbers of students. Otherwise for small numbers (up to 30 text) poll anywhere provides opportunity for anonymous feedback from audiences/students. Twitter is the other tool which has similar use. All of these put the cost of messaging back on to the user.  Whereas the other technology used for this sort of approach, clickers etc. transfers all costs to the organiser / provider.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Learning welding #3: Analysing interpersonal communications and gestures

Doing a read up on ‘ body language’ as so much of the video data we are collecting on the welding project has limited dialogue or has dialogue which is highly contextualised to the practical task at hand. Not only is learning welding a very individualised pursuit, but interpersonal communications are hampered by high noise levels prevalent in the welding workshop. The young men in the welding class we are observing are also not normally very articulate or prone to chatter away. Therefore, voice recordings of individual students yield long minutes of recordings made up of the noise generated while welding and preparing metal for and after welding. So lots of banging and other industrial noise but not a lot of talk.

However, our initial concentrated study of a couple of our trial videos indicate many bodily gestures which tell us much about how the student is approaching and engaging with the task.
1) There is usually a pre- task check, indicating knowledge of the need to have tools, pieces of metal to be prepared / welded / cleaned up / cut set up correctly.
2) During welding, sawing or filing, students stop not only to catch their breathes :) but also to

make ongoing checks to ensure all goes well.
3) Checks can be observed via gestures like a cocked head and concerted peering at the article being worked on.
4) In some cases, there are physical gestures which indicate a need to relate mental images (size / shape) to the actual task. We see this as the use of fingers to estimate width or height while the student also turns his head in several directions in order to make the estimation from different angles. We will need to work out a way which is not intrusive to find out what is happening in the students’ heads as they ‘study’ their sample before they progress on to the next part of the process they are working on.
5) Other things observed include the use of touch to ascertain smoothness of metal surfaces being polished. This occurs regularly as students have to remove hacksaw marks from their work before they are able to check if their welds have been accomplished effectively. 
6) There is also decision making as when choosing when to stop a processes like filing to change over to a finer polishing ‘tool’ using sandpaper. Students may then revert from sandpaper back to file when the sandpaper does not make any inroads into their polishing action.
7) Frequencies of checks may be one way to compare various students’ improvement in recognising occasions for change in filing angles or technique. This may be something we could do as a preliminary data analysis exercise.

A trawl through the CPIT CPIT library came up with the “ Handbook on interpersonal communication’” second edition edited by M.L. Knapp and G.R. Miller (1994) with at chapter by J.D. Burgoon on non- verbal signals. Most of the chapter is also available on google books.

In the above chapter, the 7 forms of non-verbal communications are summarised as:

  • Kinesics – visual bodily movements, including gestures, facial expressions, trunk & limb movements, posture, gaze etc. – as exampled in my above description in paragraph 2.
  • Vocalic or paralanguage – use of verbal cues other than words themselves including pitch, loudness, tempo, pauses, inflection which are studied using discourse analysis.
  • Physical appearance – includes manipulable features which include dress, hairstyle, cosmetics, fragrances and adornments (perhaps also uniforms) and NOT non –manipulable features like physiognomy and height. – perhaps useful.
  • Haptics – use of touch – something we will need to observe more closely.
  • Proxemics – interpersonal distance and spacing relationships – when we analyse group /peer / tutor interaction.
  • Chronemics – use of time as a message system, including code elements like punctuality, waiting, lead time and amount of time spent with someone – need to work this one out for relevance and to see if hesitancy or over-checking is a sign of a lack of confidence in students' judgement.
  • Artifacts – manipulable objects and environmental features which convey messages from their designers of users – we will need to code task & artifacts being worked on.
So we will need to do a deeper study of kinesics in order to deduce more out of our video data. 

The several hours of data we have collected so far has already yielded several items to follow through. These include a compartive study of frequency of checks students make while undertaking a tasks, identification of signs of hesitancy when decision making and the use of touch in checking on progress with certain tasks.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Books found at the Unitec library

Over the course of the last two months, I have put half a day a week to refresh my 'apprentices research' bibliography. The libraries both at work and at the university are still quiet as the students have only just started. Despite prevalence of on-line journals, google books & epublications, I still love browsing the stacks. Each trip always ends with a satisfying stack of books relevant to various projects, many of which would have escaped my attention by just relying on catalogue and database searches. Maybe I am not searching them correctly :( but I think not, as some gems are buried - say 123 out of 1000 hits! & I seldom get down beyond scanning the first 100.

While in Auckland last week, I managed to find a couple of hours to browse the 3 shelves of books on education in the library at Unitec as I was interview boating apprentices at Unitec. These include the following pertinent ones:

Understanding pedagogy and its impact on learning (1999) edited by P. Mortimore had a good chapter by Watkins, C & Mortimore, P. Pedagogy, what do we know, Young, M. & Lucas, N. on Pedagogies in further ed. New context, new theories and new possibilities and Griffiths, T. & Guile, D. on pedagogy in workplace contexts. First chapter on google books.

Also browsed through Classroom discourses by Cazden, C.B. (2001), a seminal book on studying class room discourse which provided many examples of discourse analysis techniques undertaken with data collected during class sessions.

Atkinson, T & Claxton. G. (2000) The intuitive practitioner: on the value of not always knowing what one is doing. A fascinating read which I will have to find another copy of.

Lastly, but by no means least, a book that provides inspiration for a longitudinal study. Levin, B. B. (2003) case studies of teacher development: an in-depth look at how thinking about pedagogy develops over time. Which is a 15 year project following 4 graduates of a pre-service teacher training programme and their development as teachers. The understanding of pedagogy was studied using Ammon & Hutchinson’s (1989) model of pedagogical thinking.  I will follow this one through in the next year or so as the CPIT DTLT programme beds down.  It will be good to be able to follow a group of new vocational educators over number of years as they move from professional / trades practioners to becoming teachers.

Research project progress

Last week was a busy week. My three research days are full of 'things to do'. Last week I was in Auckland for two days, doing focus group meetings with groups of Boating apprentices. A fine collection of energetic and enthusiastic young men, all bar one out of 23 made a concerted decision to enter the trade of boat building. It will be interesting to find out perspectives of apprentices from other trades as boat building seems to be one of the ‘trendy’ trades with prospects for good wages at the end of apprenticeship plus opportunities to travel, participate in international sailing races and opportunities to learn and practice a diverse range of skills.

On the third research day, Flip & I did our first ‘data collection’ session with a group of welding students. We accomplished a good morning of work to familiarise ourselves with the hardware and for the students to become acquainted with us observing / filming them. Six students were also issued with voice recorders which they put into their overalls chest pockets. Quality of sound from the recorders was good. Synchronising them to videos will be a challenge but we will work on time codes.

In the afternoon, we had a convivial and informative meeting with Jae Major at the College of Education, University of Canterbury. Jae provided useful tips about focusing on the research question and most importantly, how to organise video data using time codes, synchronising voice recorders to video and archival of the data. Also some good tips on how to go about doing preliminary and then more in-depth data analysis. Her instructions mirror some of the recommendations provided by Frederick Erickson in a chapter on research procedures and their rationales for dealing with the analysis of videotape evidence, in the Handbook of Complementary Methods in Educational Research (2006), much of the chapter available on google books.