19 SES 01, Paper Session
In the academic year 2012-13, I carried out the fieldwork for my doctoral dissertation with a group of six secondary students and one fellow researcher in a school within the metropolitan area of Barcelona. This process unfolded within the national research project Livingand learning with new literacies in and outside school: contributions for reducing school drop-out, exclusion and abandonment among youth (MEC EDU2011-24122), and proposed to accompany the participating young people in a collaborative ethnographic inquiry (Heath, Brooks, Cleaver & Ireland 2009) in order to study “learning in and outside school”. During sixteen sessions carried out from October, 2012 to March, 2013 my colleague and I guided the young people in their inquiry into their learning practices, and as a group we experimented with ways of documenting and articulating the research project.
Now, for my doctoral dissertation, I am currently reflecting on this experience and confrontingthe methodological puzzlethat emerges when attempting to piecetogether the ethnographic account in a way thataccurately representsandrespondstothe process and the themesguiding myresearch.This communication, therefore, is a reflection on the work of writing the ethnographic account andwill serve asa spacewithin whichI interrogatethe relationship betweenmy developingnarrative and the research questions I am trying to address.
My dissertationfocuses on describing and documenting thelearningexperiences (Charlot 1997; Hernández-Hernández & Padilla-Petry 2013)that occurred inthe collaborative researchenvironmentthat my fieldwork produced. It questions how collaboration supports learning andattemptsto trace theexperience of “learning together” and “becoming researchers”,two activitiesthat often feel intangible,andemergeasrelational, in-between eventsthat prove difficult to capture.Because my study is attracted to seemingly invisible (non-empirical) learning practices, the role of methodology and thetaskof extracting and making meaning come to the fore.
The first step in my analysis entailsan act of framing: I adopt the key phrase from the national project—the concept of “in and out”—to use as a reflexive framework for thinking about the dynamic of our group. This frame is a way of acknowledging the limits regarding how much I can come to know about what took place during the fieldwork (i.e., recognizing what remains “outside” my knowledge...) and foregrounds my own gaze within the process. The next activity, sifting, describes the coding process I have used, developed after John and Lyn Lofland's (1995) list of codes for studying human interaction, and comments on the obstacles I encounter while attempting to code around the empty or stuck moments of our sometimes tense group dynamic. Third, I look at the layering that results when bringing together the coding process and my field notes, and I study the relationship between each method of analysis. Finally, I discuss spiralling which is an interpretative strategy; once I recognize that I cannot approach the concept of learning experience directly, my narrative adopts a circular nature, spiralling outward and adding resonance as my understanding of the research topic develops and expands.
ANDERSON, L. (2006). Analytic Autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 35 (4): 373-395 CHARLOT, B. (1997). Da relaçâo como saber. Porto Alegre, Brasil: Artes Médicas. CONNELLY, F. M., & CLANDININ, D. J. (2006). Narrative Inquiry. In J. Green, G. Camilli & P. Elmore (Eds.), Handbook of complementary methods in education research (pp. 477-487). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. FENDLER, R. (2013). Becoming-learner. Coordinates for mapping the space and subject of nomadic pedagogy. Qualitative Inquiry 19 (10): 786-793. DOI: 10.1177/1077800413503797. HEATH, S., BROOKS, R., CLEAVER, R. & IRELAND, E. (2009). Researching Young People’s Lives. London: Sage. HERNÁNDEZ-HERNÁNDEZ, F., & PADILLA-PETRY, P. (2013). Cuestionar el éxito y el fracaso escolar [Questioning school success and failure]. Cuadernos de Pedagogia, 430, 56-59. LOFLAND, J., & LOFLAND, L.H. (1995). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing Company. ST PIERRE, E. & PILLOW W.S. (2000). Working the Ruins: Feminist Poststructural Theory and Methods in Education. London / New York, NY: Routledge.
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