Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:10

    My name is Victoria Edwards.I've just finished my undergraduate degree hereat Cardiff, and I'm about to start my master'sin research methods.And along with Dawn Mannay, I published the SAGE Data Setof Visual Methods and the World Technique.I first encountered research methodsas part of the undergraduate degree module program.But I'd have to say for me, the real learningcame through doing, and Cardiff ran an undergraduate researchopportunity scheme.

  • 00:35

    And I was fortunate enough to participatein two of those, the first one being the sand-tray projectwith Dawn.And that really introduced me to the practicalitiesof doing research, and I found it an awful lot easierto learn through doing.

  • 00:55

    The sandbox method draws on techniquesthat are used in psychoanalysis, but in our project,we used it as a tool for visual data productionalongside an elicitation interview.So we gave participants a sand-traythat was purpose built for the project.So we invited participants to selectfrom a range of 129 objects.

  • 01:16

    So that's things that you would come across in everyday life,so figures, fences, signs.There were small stones, conkers,all kinds of different things.And invited them to make a representationin the sand of their experience as nontraditional studentsof higher education.

  • 01:37

    And this was accompanied by an elicitation interview.So once the participant had mapped out their sand scene,I invited them to tell me what they'd created.And this produced a really rich narrative,a stream of uninterrupted talks, so the participantsreally guided both the pace and the directionof the conversation that we had about the thingsthat they'd made in the sand.

  • 01:58

    So we were just talking about thingsthat they've made in the sand.And I was recording it, because they led the pace,and they led the style, and they led the content.It was just really an opportunity, not onlyto see what they'd experienced, but how they wantedto talk about what they'd experienced,and what felt comfortable ways to explore itwithout me saying, tell me how that was for you.

  • 02:20

    They were able to say, this is how it was for me.And I think probably if we'd gone in there with an interviewschedule, we'd have missed loads and loads that came upabout the kind of barriers that non-traditional students facein higher education.Especially for a lot of them, theywere the first members of their familyto experience university.So there were no tips, there wereno cues coming from anywhere else, and a lot of themhad young families, or other commitments thatmeant that this was one thing in a much morecomplex story of their lives.

  • 02:51

    And it really came through in the sand trays.They were either enrolled studentswho had come through the pathway Learn, whichis kind of a satellite that runs alongside the university.So students can do half of the modules for the first yearof a social science degree with other nontraditional studentson evenings and weekends, to get a taste of if they thinkthat they will like university life, and the pace of the work.

  • 03:23

    So they're identified when they come through as a networkof students.And we spoke as well to past nontraditional route students,and often to reflect back on that first year of universityas well.And they were identified through other nontraditional studentsand their cohort.

  • 03:45

    So it's kind of like a snowball kind of thing,that was how it worked.My first tip would be fairly obvious--follow your interests, and think about the kinds of researchthat you find convincing, or appealing.And ask yourself why, and try to be a little bitcritical about those things.

  • 04:07

    So if you're convinced by statisticsand numerical information, then take surveys,and ask yourself questions about the surveywhen you're doing it.Not only what that survey's finding out about you,but what it's not finding out about you, for example.So I found that really helpful, which kind ofleads on to my second tip, which wouldbe to try and relate what you are learningto your own experience.

  • 04:29

    Instead of thinking about methods as abstract,think about how they apply to your everyday situations,and the things that you're learning.Another top tip would be to seek outopportunities to participate in research at your university,to get involved, to look for job adverts,for research positions in the summer, or to just volunteer.

  • 04:51

    And if there's a lecture that you go to,and you're particularly interested in whatthe person's saying, ask them about it afterwards.Because it's my experience that peoplewho love the research they're doingwill want to talk to you about it, and to tell you about it.And if there's an opportunity to be involved,that's how you'll find it.

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2016

Video Type:Interview

Methods: Semi-structured interviews, Visual research, Planning research

Keywords: career development; life events; nontraditional education; personal experience; Sand play; Student attitudes; undergraduate education; visualization ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Victoria Edwards explains her experiences with research and advises students on how to get into the field. She used sand play, semi-structured interviews, and snowball sampling to explore the experience of nontraditional university students.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Learning Research Methods

Victoria Edwards explains her experiences with research and advises students on how to get into the field. She used sand play, semi-structured interviews, and snowball sampling to explore the experience of nontraditional university students.