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  • 00:01


  • 00:05

    KATE WALL: I'm Kate Wall from Durham University. [Dr. KateWall, Reader in Education, Durham University]I'm interested in how teachers workwith kids to look at learning.

  • 00:14

    ELAINE HALL: I'm Elaine Hall, I'm at Northumbria University,[Dr. Elaine Hall, Reader in Legal Education Research,Northumbria University] and my main interestis in professional learning.[What is practitioner enquiry?]

  • 00:25

    ELAINE HALL: Practitioner enquirycomes from a tradition, which is often conflated with actionresearch, so action research and practitioner enquiryare often used interchangeably.We would say that the way in which we do practitionerenquiry is less about particular methodological forms,and it's more about a stance, it'smore about the practitioner, whether they're the researcher,whether they're a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor,a social worker.

  • 00:50

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Taking a particular curious and systematic viewof their practice.

  • 00:55

    KATE WALL: So it's basically about teachersasking questions, and being exploratoryabout what goes on in-- the practitioners, lookingat their practice, and what goes on, and think about howthey can make it better.It's about that process of tinkeringwith what they do every day, and tryto improve the outcomes for whoever they work with.[How would you define practitioner enquiryfor a student?]

  • 01:17

    ELAINE HALL: Practitioner enquiryis not so much a method, although it's often associatedwith action research, because action research isa common methodological approach within practitioner enquiry.Practitioner enquiry is about the practitioner,whether they're a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor,or a social worker, thinking about their workin a very curious, but also very systematic way.

  • 01:40

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it might be that it follows the cycles of enquiry asin traditional action research.It might be something that looks more complex and organic,from general tinkering in the classroom, or in the office,to something that's an in-depth case study, or autoethnography.So it's-- practitioner enquiry is actually quite broad.

  • 02:01

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Most of our work in practitioner enquiryhas been quite closely liked to action research methodsbecause we've been working with large groups of practitioners,and providing a particular kind of structure.

  • 02:12

    KATE WALL: So we're interested in practitionerswho are questioning, and are wantingto think about how they can make their practice better.And that's by enquiring into, in-depth, eitherwhat's going on, or what happens if I change something.And so you see different scenarios playing out,and how they explore what's going on.

  • 02:33

    KATE WALL [continued]: it's about thinking about evidence,and the evidence they can collect,to know whether what they're doing is making an impact.[What are some of the research projectsyou have been working on?What research methods have you used?]

  • 02:44

    KATE WALL: The most substantial projectwe've worked on for the last 10 years it was a product called,the Learn to Learn Project.And that was a community of enquirers, practitionerenquirers, that included mostly teachers, but from nurserythrough primary, secondary, special ed,FE and HE, so practitioners across the board,all interested in learning and making better learners.

  • 03:07

    KATE WALL [continued]: And what was fascinating was that that communityof enquirers, was very mutually reinforcing in exploringthe learning and learners, and actually ended upwith the practitioners exploring their own learning, almost asmuch as the students in their care.It was 10 years, longitudinal study of everyone exploring.

  • 03:32

    KATE WALL [continued]: And we explored, too.So we were also exploring our own learning, and the learnersthat we were working with.

  • 03:39

    ELAINE HALL: So one of the key things about a practitionerenquiry is that it's collaborative.One of our heroes is Lawrence Stenhouse, and he says,people can think for themselves, but not by themselves.And what we found is that networks, and the kind of talkthat happens in there, was particularly--if you've got very little kind of context in common,you can't complain about the new assessments thatare coming for Key Stage 3 geography, if you're sittingnext to somebody who teaches about hairdressing,and somebody else who teaches nursery kids.

  • 04:09

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: You have to talk about pedagogy, youhave to talk about learning.And that means that the kind of depth and curiositygets opened up necessarily through that dynamic.And we learned a lot about what we thought was important,actually being sort of academic noodling,really, because what people actuallywere interested in emerged from those conversations.

  • 04:32

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So that's the way in which we were kind of forcedinto being learners, even if we hadn't been up for that.I don't think you can run that kind of a networkwithout doing it.And Learning to Learn was so successful in termsof what we were interested in, and enjoying it so much,that really almost everything else that we'vebeen involved in since then, has hadsomething of that flavor to it.

  • 04:55

    KATE WALL: The anecdote I would giveabout the power of that network was a nursery teacherfrom Cornwall-- so teaching three,and four-year-olds-- standing in the lunchqueue next to a chemical engineerfrom Newcastle University.And a chemical engineer was saying,you know what, my post-graduates can't problem solve,and they come into my classes, theywant me to give them all the answers,and they don't think for themselves.

  • 05:25

    KATE WALL [continued]: And then the nursery teacher say,you know what, my three and four-year-olds comeinto my class, they can't problems solved,they come into my classroom, they'vehad everything done for them by their parents.And then they work together to come upwith the scenarios of what they could do to make it better.And the message to take is learners look remarkablysimilar, whether they're three, or whether they're doingtheir post-doctorate study.

  • 05:51

    KATE WALL [continued]: But exploring that together was a very productive space.[What does it take to get practitioners to researchthemselves and be researched?]

  • 05:59

    ELAINE HALL: To begin with, there'sa real developmental curve, so some peoplecome in with some research knowledge and background,or with a particular idea about what counts as evidence.But most people, we find, come into these sortsof networks curious, but not research savvy.So we put a lot into the early parts of the relationshipin terms of basic research training and researchsupport-- now, how can we ask questions in a manageable way?

  • 06:25

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: How can we use data that already exists?So we do a little bit on traditional research methods,but we do mostly work on reexamining environmental data,because most workplaces are incrediblydata-rich environments, and that data is used managerially,but not to ask research questions,and it already been collected, so why would you use it.

  • 06:47

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And then, because we've been working mainly with teachers,and also with some very young children, or childrenand young people who have literacy issues,or English as a second language, westarted to develop a range of catalytic tools,as we talk about them, because they have a pedagogical role.So something like a pupil views template,which is Kate's particular area of expertise,you can use that in a lesson to give youfeedback about how the learners are doing,and how they're thinking.

  • 07:15

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it's a pedagogical tool, but it's also a research tool.Helps you to reflect, and to use this data over a numberof periods of time.So lots of things like that were developed through the project.Often sometimes, through happenstance, again, peoplewere using things, and saying, with this kind of datawe've come to the point where we think,everything counts as data?

  • 07:37

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: In a lot of learning situations, portfolios of evidenceare collected for assessment, for example,and it took quite a lot of convincing, I think,for some of the teachers in our projectto recognize that these were data that were answering,not just attainment questions, but also dispositionsquestions.

  • 07:57

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: The learners' orientation to learning,how they were feeling about themselves,the complexity of the language that theywere using in pieces of written work that were being stored.That might not have been the criteriaon which that piece of work was marked,but it could be used in a secondary analysis of childrendeveloping more science language, for example the workof Paul Black, for example, looking at children's talkand writing, to see how those concepts get embedded.

  • 08:25

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So, it was very fertile, we just think everything is data now.

  • 08:31

    KATE WALL: So we work hard to try to demystify the researchprocess, that it is something that can be useful,and is not just for clever people in universities.That it's for clever people in schools and workplaces,as well.There are useful tools that we can bring from academiainto the practice, but they're also good practice toolsthat we can take into academia, which is why we'vemoved into visual methods.

  • 08:57

    KATE WALL [continued]: These are tools that primary teachers use all the timeto get-- to elicit responses from children,and academia just starting catching onwith visual methodology.So it's about thinking about tool evidence thatwill support their enquiry, what is enough evidenceto convince you that you've foundan answer to your research question?And that might be evidence that comesfrom a very traditional form of data,like an interview or a questionnaire,but it might also be evidence that is much morepractice-based, so work samples, or mind maps,or video of classroom lessons or practice.

  • 09:34

    KATE WALL [continued]: So therefore, it's just trying to openteachers' and practitioners' minds to it being somethingmuch broader, and useful.Useful is the key word, in this, to them and thinkingabout what they do every day.[What would you expect a new teacher to do as part of thisresearch?]

  • 09:51

    ELAINE HALL: So the first thing we would want to know would be,what's your question at the moment.And you might not have it in the form of a question,so we would say, what's going on in your work at the moment?What's bothering you?Either because you're not quite sure whysomething's going wrong, or has ceased to work,that used to work.Or because something's working really, really well,and you're not quite sure, how did it all go so right--is a question that quite a lot of teachers sometimes have.

  • 10:14

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So we work very much on refining a questionfor a first cycle of enquiry.And then say, OK, so how can you answer that with the datathat you already have?So we really start from not making it burdensome,not making it overwhelming.And sometimes people are able to answer questions perfectly wellwithout doing additional data collection.

  • 10:36

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: But on the whole because they've been longand they've had a day out of their work context,and they've met some other people, and they kind-- sothey want to do something else, as well.So they normally adds another layer of data collection in.And that again provides them with a bitof reflective space-- I'm doing something different,I'm doing something consciously, and thatgoes back to what I was saying about the practitioner enquirystance.

  • 10:57

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: It is about moving on from just doing my work,to kind of being, and thinking in my work.

  • 11:03

    KATE WALL: It's very inherent to being a professional, I think.A professional should always be tryingto update their practice, and think about howthey can make it better.And so thinking about how you can do that,and that the tools that can supportthat sort of professional updating, and improvement,is really fundamental to what we do.

  • 11:24

    KATE WALL [continued]: I mean, if you go back to Schon's work on,what is a reflective practitioner, that'swhat we're talking about.I would add that a reflected practitioneris part of the story.What we also need is a reflective and strategicpractitioner, so someone who does somethingabout those reflections.And I think finding the space to dothat is what we're talking about in these projects.We are supporting teachers and practitionersin finding the space to change something,to do something about their hunches,about what happens in their classrooms and workspace every day.

  • 11:57

    KATE WALL [continued]: So it's just about being a professional, would be my--

  • 12:01

    ELAINE HALL: And there's this sort of contradictory elementto that because, at one level, what somebody choosesto enquiry into, it's absolutely up to them.And there have been for us serious conflictswhere somebody wants to investigate into somethingthat we've actually done primary research,and we think that's actually a waste of your time.There is no there, there.You're going to spend six months looking at learning styles,and it's not going to help you, really.

  • 12:27

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: But if that's their question, we've had to let go of thatbecause if that's their question,that's their question.And we have to let that go.So we will let the content aspect of it go,but the process-- so they have to come to the meetings,they have to submit reports, they have to engage with us,and there's a really strong contract around that.

  • 12:47

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Because otherwise, the space that's neededgets pushed in by the immediate practice concerns.So whether it's children, or clients,or whoever they're working with, the immediacy of those peoplemeans that the space for research just gets crushed in.So we have to be very, very controlling in some ways,and very, very liberal in others.And it's an interesting paradox for us,because it tends to be a flip to the waythat traditional research projects work, in that,the content is normally set by the researchers.

  • 13:17

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: You know, you go into a community and say,we're going to do some work on forms of assessment,would you like to join in with us?We actually going to say, we're going to do some work,and we're going to do it in a particular way.It can be about whatever you'd like,would you like to join in with us?And so that's what's different about the way we work.[Would the methods you have described be usefulfor a researcher who is just starting out?]

  • 13:37

    KATE WALL: I think you have to rememberthat a lot of, particularly in education,a lot of our students are part-time,and they are working full-time.And so these kinds of methods fit very wellwith their studies and their practice.And for the majority of my students,who are working part-time-- studying part-time, workingfull-time, it's about making a Venn diagram,and the closer they can get the two to overlap, the more likelythey are to be successful.

  • 14:05

    KATE WALL [continued]: So these kind of approaches open up the ideathat they can support their practice while studying,and that the two should not be a separate sort of indulgencethat study could become.And that opens up doors for them.And that's very different to what maybe theyexpect when they come to university to domaster's study.They expect to do master's study, which is somethingthat you do in the university, which is very separate.

  • 14:30

    KATE WALL [continued]: But by joining them up that gets mutual benefit, I think.

  • 14:34

    ELAINE HALL: And I think that's definitely the path that we'vegone from our projects to our part-timers,but actually I would say anybody who works with menow, full-time or part-time, I offer them these on the menu.And maybe that's not what they want,but I offer them because there is somethingabout working in this way that opens up thingsthat traditional research methods don't do.

  • 14:58

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: I'll give you an example, one of my colleagues is a dentist,and he teaches the module where studentstake teeth out of a real person for the first time, which,as you can imagine, is a lot of fun for everyone.But they write a reflective piece about it afterwards,but it's several months down the line.

  • 15:19

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it's all kind of evened out, and flattened out, and yet,as an observer in that room he knows that peoplego really up and really down in their emotional stateduring that process.So we ended up using a primary-school thinking skillstool called a fortune line.And the students filled those in as theywere doing the extractions, so after every pointin the instruction they would be marking their emotional level.

  • 15:46

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Now that's-- when he first took that to medical dentalconferences people laughed openly at him.But actually what it is, it's a pain graph,it's the same kind of thing.You can measure the area under the curve,you can produce all kinds of regression analyses and datasets from it.But in terms of connecting peopleto a simple, how am I doing in this moment,it does things that a more sophisticated looking tool justdoesn't do.

  • 16:11

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: It gets right to the knot of the question.And I think that's what a lot of our visual methods,and the methods that have evolved after these projects,do.So I think it doesn't matter what kind of a studyyou are doing, I think there's something in here for peopleto use.

  • 16:24

    KATE WALL: It's the creative thoughtaround these-- what comprises evidence, which opens up.So, in terms of what we've taken from practitioner enquiryinto other areas of research, it's thinking about these toolscreatively, and trying not to be epistemologically boundedby their traditions.So thinking about how a tool can beused in the most practical way, but also in the most useful wayto answer the question.

  • 16:50

    KATE WALL [continued]: So taking a pedagogic tool, and taking it to a dentistry painconference, and thinking about how that can be quantified,the space into the graph.But also thinking about visual data, for example,and how you can use them in an RCT,a randomized control trial, to measure changesin metacognitive awareness.So I have very, very large visual datasets that I am analyzing in a very deductive way--because it's so large, 3,000 pieces-- butthey are still visual.

  • 17:24

    KATE WALL [continued]: But by not being epistemologically boundedwithin a qualitative tradition, weare able to open up to the mixed methods,sort of, side of things.And just trying to use them in the most practical waythat we can to answer the questions that we needanswering.

  • 17:39

    ELAINE HALL: And we've been really, really influenced,I think, by the colleagues in America,who-- people like Teddlie and Tashakkori and [INAUDIBLE], whoare part of the Journal of Mixed Methods Research,and the way in which mixing methods occurs rightthrough the design.I think we came to mixed methods in a very sortof small-p pragmatist way, at firstwe just like-- we need different tools for different jobs.

  • 18:04

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: But actually now we're thinking much morein terms of qualitative and quantitative approachesto elements of design, elements of recruitment,as well as analysis and display.And I think that again is another oneof those things that means that when we've got these very, verydiverse networks that we're working with,everybody feels that the kind of knowledge that they're bringingis valued.

  • 18:26

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And that it has a place in the process.[What does introducing visual formsof data gathering involve?

  • 18:32

    KATE WALL: The first thing there is probablythat we're both primary teachers by background.So we come from classrooms where wehave worked with children for whom literacy is probablya problem, either developmentallyor because they have special needs later on.So thinking about different ways that wecan elicit their responses and get them involved,and mediate learning experiences isbeen part of what we did as professionals.

  • 18:60

    KATE WALL [continued]: And when we came into the research domainwe carried on working with, and wantingto support children in giving voice to their experiences.And so that was an immediate transferof these visual approaches into our practice.What we were surprised about is the factthat the academic domain had not probablyadvanced as far as the professional domain hadin using this type of approaches.

  • 19:26

    KATE WALL [continued]: And so we have become advocates in supportingthese new creative approaches to supportingfor research methods.And what's interesting is talking to teacher colleagues,they get the visual data.They get it immediately, they get its use,they can see the potential of it,they can see the transfer from researchinto pedagogy, and back again.

  • 19:50

    KATE WALL [continued]: But talking to our academic colleagues,they are much more restricted in how they see its use.And so going back to this idea of epistemologicallyboundedness, the visual tools are oftenbounded in academics' heads within the qualitative domain.And, as I said before, we are tryingto move and open it up into the mixed methodsort of approaches.

  • 20:16

    KATE WALL [continued]: So the visual comes from our practice as teachers.But it's made sense in our work, particularly talkingto practitioners and students.

  • 20:24

    ELAINE HALL: And I think, again, the placeof it within the design is importantbecause sometimes the visual is a way of mediating another kindof data collection.So it may be that we all sit around something,and interact with it, and draw on it, or annotate it.And while the finished part of thatwould be a research outcome, actually it'sa way of mediating, moderating the conversation.

  • 20:49

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Again, taking away the thing that you and I do now,where we're gazing at one another,and it's actually quite awkward in some ways.But if we're both looking at something elsethen that's very freeing.And particularly where there's a power imbalance, whichthere always is one kind or another of power imbalance,but particularly when you're working with children, havinga visual mediation is incredibly important.At other times we're asking peopleto tap into something that they find hard to express verbally,so using drawings, or photographs, or 3D sculpture,to express something that actually they can't necessarilyput into words, and then using that as a jumping off pointfor-- because eventually everythingends up as text, of course, as a publisher you know this.

  • 21:34

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Sooner or later we have to find a wayto describe this verbally, but it'sa really good way of getting more complexity and nuanceinto a traditional interview, or any kindof collaborative enquiry.It's very engaging, which makes it problematic ethically,because people want to join in, and in their desireto get their hands on the fun thing to do,they may not be thinking as much about,do I really want to be involved in this, whatare the implications for me.

  • 22:04

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it's one of the things that we'revery keen on is to think very, verycritically about the ethics of visual research,in terms of recruitment.But also in terms of ownership of whatfinally comes out of the encounter.In the end it's the academics on the whole whotake the drawings, or the photographsaway, and make meaning with them.

  • 22:25

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And we think that's really problematicbecause the children, or the young people,whoever you're working with, don't oftenhave enough of a voice in that analytic process.

  • 22:39

    KATE WALL: I think has been a major preoccupation in both,the vision methodology and the practitioner enquiryapproaches, that we do.And we are very-- obviously we are tied by the universityregulations around ethics, and making sure that we anonymize,and-- the accountability side of things.

  • 22:60

    KATE WALL [continued]: But within a practitioner enquiry approach,or within visual methodology, there's also the ethical waythat you go about research.And I think that that is much more embeddedin the epistemology that we're espousing,rather than it being something about removing people's names.

  • 23:20

    KATE WALL [continued]: That's very difficult with a photograph, anyway--people's identity there.And we use the example of the news and reports on obesity,and the fact that the news uses images of peoplefrom the neck down, as an anonymized versionof a fat-- for the obesity.

  • 23:41

    KATE WALL [continued]: But that's not anonymous.If that was me, I'd know it was me.If that was me, my friends would know it was me,it is not anonymous.Just by chopping the head off, and removingthat sort of symbol.But similarly, within practitioner enquiry,it's-- and if you look at the work of SusanGroundwater-Smith, she talks about the ethical prerogativeto enquiry, and how it is actually an ethical principlethat these professionals need to work to get better,and work to improve their practice.

  • 24:12

    KATE WALL [continued]: And I think that's very telling thenin how we use these sort of ethical principlesin thinking about visual methods.It's about an ethical way of doing things,rather than the accountability structure.And I think that's really important.

  • 24:26

    ELAINE HALL: I think that traditional ethics structuresdon't think of people as co-researchers.So we think about our practitioners,we think about the kids that we work with,on the whole as co-researchers.My preference is for people to benamed if that is their preference, that'sthe struggle that we often have.And if somebody has done an enquiry,I don't want to gray out their schoolname, and their name in the book that I write about-- knowabout their work with them.

  • 24:54

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: They should be acknowledged.[INTERPOSING VOICES]--they did the work, we didn't, so therefore--

  • 25:01

    ELAINE HALL: And equally, a child-- I'mthinking about the children at Deborah's schoolat Willow, who did incredibly complex work on mind maps.They got to this method where they were making mind mapsabout how mind maps work-- this is children in year two,so six, seven-year-old children-- and theywanted people to know that they had done that piece of work.

  • 25:22

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: If we were going to put that in a journal,they wanted to know that it was Hollie, and Becky,and Susie, from Willow school, who had made this.And you know, all researcher committees would say,well, you know, participants need to be anonymized.And we struggle with that.I think that the whole structure of practitioner enquirycalls into question these power relationships,and we just-- it does no good, therecan't be blanket rules about this.

  • 25:46

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: It needs to be a negotiation and a proper contract.[What does it mean when analyzing a visual creationas a way of eliciting information?]

  • 25:52

    ELAINE HALL: There's a really good example,which we used yesterday in a session that we did.It's from an Australian project about children's useof their leisure time.And they were given cameras overnight to go and takea picture of what they did when they were out of school.I think it has to be done collaboratively.We always used the example, when talkingabout this, of a study that was done in Australiaabout children leisure.

  • 26:17

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Children in schools were given camerasovernight to go and take a picture of somewhere thatrepresented how they spend their leisure time.And some fantastic, fantastic images, most of whichwere relatively easy to interpret,there were kids playing tennis, therewere kids jumping up and down on trampolines, kids fishing,surfing.

  • 26:39

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And there was one picture, which is a picture of an empty field.And I showed it-- not that image,but I showed a stock image to the group yesterday, and said,we can interpret this in so many ways, you know,this lovely field, it's enclosed by trees.We could think about safety and security,and a place to play in a rural environment.

  • 26:60

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: But actually that's not what this picture is about.This is a picture of some horses.It's just that on the night she hadthe camera the horses weren't there,but she took a picture of the field,and that's what it meant to her.Now, because in this piece of researchthey followed up that data collection, with interviewswith all of the authors of the photographs,they knew for sure, at least how to categorizeat the first level, the meaning of those photographs.

  • 27:26

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Yes, of course, you can then go into all kinds of imagegrammar, and the semiotics of the image,and those are legitimate and interesting waysto analyze visual data.But if you're going to make any claimfor co-constructed meaning, or for participationfor your research, then you need a collaborative analysis,as well.

  • 27:47

    KATE WALL: I think there's a real big questionmark over visual methods, and the link with participationapproaches.So there is some presumption that by doing visualyou're being participatory.And I don't think that's right, the visual methods are justtools, and they are wielded by researchersin a variety of different ways, some of thoseare participatory, and some of them are not.

  • 28:09

    KATE WALL [continued]: And the fact that a child has done a drawing with youas a researcher does not make it participatory.So thinking about how you look at different elementsof the research process around that drawingto increase the participation and the involvementof the children-- whoever's done the drawing--is really important.

  • 28:29

    KATE WALL [continued]: So I think that that's one area that we would question, or puta question mark around.But I think that the other way that wewould think about visual methods and analysis, particularly,is thinking about what you want to know from that visual data.It's like any data set, whether it'sinterview transcripts, or a big spreadsheet of numbers,you need to think about what you want to know from that,and then using the most appropriate analysistools for that.

  • 28:56

    KATE WALL [continued]: So you can do semiotic analysis, you can use the work of Derridato explore an image, but you can alsodo participatory approaches, to go and validate backwith the participants that have done the image takingin the first place.Or you can think about counting, and do a thematic explorationin the tradition of Glaser and Strauss,to think about how what themes emerge from this data set.

  • 29:22

    KATE WALL [continued]: But it depends what you want to know.So you've got to be clear in your researchquestion in exploring the way that you need to gothrough this research process.

  • 29:32

    ELAINE HALL: And, of course, we've had to put our hands upand say, we didn't always know.So one of the advantages that we had,because we had regular meetings with the peoplethat we were working with, is that sometimes wedo a primary analysis of a data set, and wedo a bit of counting, and we use a coupleof different thematic frames, and wedo a quick first-level analysis of,OK, so if we look at these-- what do we have,300, 400 cartoons of when children had learned somethingwell-- we did a lot of counting of what sorts of thingsthey were learning, and what sort of environment.

  • 30:05

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And also, how many boxes on the cartoon format they'd used,just to see if any of those thingswere interesting to the participants.We used the seven basic plots as a wayof looking at the different kinds of narrativesthat were told.We used a number of frames, and we took those backto the people we were working with,to say if you were going to get into this datawhat kind of frame would you use?

  • 30:29

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Do any of these actually make meaningto you, or again, does it just look like academic noodlingto you?And that's been-- we've had really, really robust feedbackwhen we've been noodling, we've been told, haven't we?

  • 30:40

    KATE WALL: Yes.[If someone produced a picture that you were interestedin interpreting, how would you go about havinga conversation?]

  • 30:45

    KATE WALL: I think it depends on how you start,how you prompted the taking of that image,or the drawing of the image, the production of the--how did-- what was the prompt?So if you've asked and given children a disposable cameraand said, take-- fill this camerawith pictures of your school, for example.

  • 31:08

    KATE WALL [continued]: So that means the kids have been very much involvedin the taking of the photographs,they're very invested in them.So therefore, how you go about analyzingthose would be a conversation where theyintroduce those photographs.So that would be one starting point.If you as research, however, have brought the photographsin, then the children have-- and the participantshaven't seen those before, then itlooks a very different starting point for the data collection,and therefore the analysis.

  • 31:37

    KATE WALL [continued]: So getting the participants to explore those images,and to get to know them would be the first point.And then doing some kind of activitywhere you sort those, and organize themin some way, shape, or form, and thatwould be the starting point for your analysis.And then talking about, well, let's look at other groupsand see how they compare to yours.

  • 31:59

    KATE WALL [continued]: So I think it's very much part of the dialogue.It's not something that stilted, it's part of a process.And you're trying to be-- again do this as ethically aspossible, as transparent and authentic, in the waythat you are working with those participants.Either presenting yourself as a learner alongside them,not as the expert-- you know, I don'thave the answers about this, I'm learning just the sameas you-- is a very important stance.

  • 32:24

    KATE WALL [continued]: It's about the process and the involvementof the students in the process, and thinkingabout how we present ourselves in that dialogue.So it's having a dialogue about the visual pieceswith the participants, and puttingourselves as equal to them.So whether we're doing visual methodology, or practitionerenquiry, it's often us as a learner alongside them.

  • 32:47

    KATE WALL [continued]: We're not the researches and the participants,it's the co-researchers, the co-learners,in producing knowledge from these artifacts, whateverthey might be.[What advice would you give to new researchers as to the kindof attitude and skills they should possess?]

  • 33:02

    ELAINE HALL: It's really importantto be able to say that you don't know.And that's actually the starting point.If you already know this, then you'rewasting yours and everybody else's time.If you feel like you've got to goin as a researcher who's already the expert,then pick another topic.You know, it's really, really importantto be ignorant in this situation sothat you can ask people from a genuine position of enquiry.

  • 33:27

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: I'm not trying to catch you out, there isn't a right answerthat I've already decided.I genuinely want to know your experience, whatyou think, what you feel, what goes on here.And that's actually, if you can accept thatas a researcher, that's a great positionas a neophyte researcher, because you don't actuallyhave to know anything at all.You just have to shut up and let them tell you.

  • 33:49

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And that's why actually doing this workis quite hard if you've been a teacher, because that'sreally not how teachers are supposed to be.That we are supposed to know what we're doing,and what the outcomes of something should be.But clearly there's a reason why we're no longer in classroomsbeing teachers, and we're doing this instead.Because actually that's quite frustratingif at the beginning of the day you knowwhat's going to happen all day.

  • 34:12

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And we never know that when we do our work now,and that's what's so brilliant about it.So flexibility isn't difficult if you justdon't worry too much about what's going to come out of it.It does make managing a data set more challenging.You know, if you go out to do a structured questionnaire,or even a semi-structured interview,you pretty much know you're going homewith answers to specific questions that you can encode.

  • 34:40

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: We tend not to have that, but it is so much more fun.And it's more, I think, helpful to the peoplein the field, who are actually doing the work.

  • 34:51

    KATE WALL: So I think that one of the key changes,when working with a student coming in from whereverin the world, and they're coming to work with me on the team,it's about that link with real life,and so placing a real importance on the usefulnessof the research.

  • 35:13

    KATE WALL [continued]: I have strong affiliations to the ideathat research is a learning process.And we have a strong affiliation between research and learning.We're very open that we're pedagogues, we're teachers,we're about learning.We're interested in learning, we'reinterested in the learning process,but we're interested in how research cansupport the learning process.

  • 35:34

    KATE WALL [continued]: So student as researchers-- supporting studentsin actually researching their own learning,and the teaching a learning processis a really good way of doing that.I think that thinking about how the learning process canbe made better-- that professional stance,that ethical stance-- and all comes to marry in this approachthat we're talking about.

  • 36:04

    ELAINE HALL: There's a really good example of thisfrom Amble First School.

  • 36:07

    KATE WALL: Oh, yeah, the Learning Detectives.

  • 36:09

    ELAINE HALL: Yeah.This is a really lovely thing, set up by a teacher,she had her Reception kids become learning detectives.So it was one of the activities they could choose in the day,they would put on the hat-- they did actually start outwith a slouch hat, but there was a nits issue,so they all went to wearing a tiara.

  • 36:30

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Anyway.In order to be the detective you wore the signifierof being a detective, and you had a clipboard,and you collected evidence of learning.And she started off with a number of categoriesthat she explained.And then, again, they were represented visuallyas symbols, so helping had a hand,and reading had an image of book, and talking to oneanother had a little image of two people talking to another,and so they were spotting other children learning.

  • 36:57

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And then they were debriefing and talkingto the teacher about-- well, I saw so and so learning,they were doing this.But what happened is they were doingis that the children themselves, reception-age age children,were generating categories and saying, that's learningand it's not on the list, we need a category for that.And that's what we're talking about.That actually when you get people involvedas co-researchers, when they get to wear the slouchhat or the tiara, and to develop the categories themselves basedon their experience, and they genuinelyfeel that they've got a voice and a role in that,then you come up with all sorts of thingsthat you could never do on your own.

  • 37:30

    KATE WALL: The conflict, I suppose,between research and teaching and learningwithin our project, it didn't matter at a certain level,whether the research that the teachers, or the practitionersdid, was flawed.Because in the end they learned something newabout their practice, and that has got to be a good thing.

  • 37:54

    KATE WALL [continued]: You go back to the work of John Hattie,just teachers doing something differenthas an effect size of 0.4.So therefore, we are encouraging teachersto do something different, and think creativelyabout what goes on in their classroom.The research practice is slightly less so.However, if they're doing a master'sthen that becomes more and more important alongside.

  • 38:14

    KATE WALL [continued]: And that's where you get this conflict between the researchand the practice.So if you are a teacher and you do something that doesn't work,you change it, and you change it very quickly.If you're doing a master's and the practice is not working,but your researching it, how far do you have to continue withthe research to make sure you get a master's.

  • 38:36

    KATE WALL [continued]: And particularly in a subject like educationwhere it's very difficult to admit you failed, and to say,I actually abandoned the research halfwaythrough because it wasn't working.So it's those kinds of conflicts that we're dealing with.It's not an easy route to take, this practitioner enquiry,because you're always balancing the dual prioritiesof the teaching and learning, and the research process.

  • 38:57

    KATE WALL [continued]: And they will have more or less prioritydepending on your circumstances, I suppose.But I think that fundamentally is that it's alwaysabout making better learners, that'sbetter professional learning, and better student learning.And that goes back to us as teachers, that'swhat we're interested in.

  • 39:17

    ELAINE HALL: I think, also, what you'll-- heading towardspractitioners is that, this processes in inherentlymetacognitive.So the teachers themselves are getting in touchwith their own metacognition, and in that waymodeling it for the students.So there is, I think, a long-term benefitand a self-awareness, a self-regulation,and a strategic quality to what comes out of it.

  • 39:43

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: And those schools who were in the Learning to Learnproject the longest, you did start to actually see that,playing out in terms of performance.But certainly in terms of this incredibly confident,articulate young people.Thinking about the sixth-formers at Cambornwho had been in a Learning to Learn schoolfor their entire secondary education, who were really,really interested, both in their own process,in other people's processes, in the tradeoff in lessons between what they wantedand what the group's as a whole needed,and what constraints were on the teacherbased on-- just a sophistication that sadly lacking,I think, from most policies.

  • 40:22

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: But you know, these kids were able to say,I really recognize why my geography A-level is like this.And that sort of awareness, those peoplegoing to the workforce, how amazing is that?And that's from years and years of the teachers modeling--I'm not sure how this works, I'm justgoing to have a bit of a look at it,and what you're telling me is helping me to reshape howI work strategically with you.

  • 40:47

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: You know, these micro interactionsquite hard to track, but when you get a big dataset it starts to emerge.[MUSIC]


Dr. Kate Wall and Dr. Elaine Hall discuss their work in inquiry-based research, particularly using visual methods. They teach professional educators how to examine and improve their own practices.

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Kate Wall and Elaine Hall Discuss Visual Methods

Dr. Kate Wall and Dr. Elaine Hall discuss their work in inquiry-based research, particularly using visual methods. They teach professional educators how to examine and improve their own practices.

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