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Transcripts: A Useful Tool in Systemic Inquiry?

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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As a Senior Lecturer in Social Work undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice, my inquiry is situated in my teaching role. I commenced this role at a time when reforms were introduced into social work education in the United Kingdom related to the need for social workers to be able to develop effective relationships with service users and professionals. In response to this, I chose to inquire into how I would become a relationally responsive educator. The underlying premise to this was twofold: first, to be relationally responsive required me to develop relationships with my students; second, I intended to build these student/teacher relationships using a conversational approach in my teaching, creating a collaborative learning environment. My teaching was recorded over two semesters and the recordings transcribed.

In this case study, I explore my first and crucial question, “Is transcribing a method that ‘fits’ with the principles of systemic practice?” I consider how the interpretive and descriptive aspects of transcribing can lead to a reduction in the lived event recorded. I look at some issues that arise from self-transcribing and having material transcribed by someone external to the research and reflect on the ethics of using a transcriber who is not part of the research inquiry. I draw on Shotter and colleagues when exploring the non-systemic aspects of transcripts as they discuss relational responsivity—one of the areas I hoped the recordings would capture.

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