Thursday, 16 April 2015

PV, research and data

One of the aims of the pilot study was to explore the range of data that can be derived during a participatory video process.  While I'm becoming more interested in the visual and narrative analysis that can be done on the media that PV produces, my main interest is the opportunities to engage in research through the process side of PV - something I've been talking up for a while.  It's a been a great opportunity to play with this without the pressure of a full research project and to start to learn how to engage with people's world views while working with them on a film.

No pretty pictures for this post, but based on the experience, I'd suggest this (probably non-exhaustive) list of data types and opportunities one can expect from a PV process.  The ones in italics are ones we have examples of from this pilot, although without much analysis to date.  The rest are ones I think there is potential for.

Participant observation
  • Notes on facilitation
  • Autoethnography from participants
  • Behind the scenes filming of crew discussions
  • Screening observations
  • Notes on critical decision points
  • Walkabout observation
  • On camera, participant led interviews
  • Vox pops
  • Behind the scenes interviews
  • Parallel semi-structured interviews with individuals
  • Parallel photo-elicitation
  • Parallel self-recorded interviews
  • Peer interviews from workshop exercises
  • Recorded group reflection and discussion
Documentary analysis
  • Production documents - scripts, workplans, storyboards, interview schedules etc.
  • Briefings
Visual/narrative analysis
  • Main film - discourse analysis, thematic analysis, micro-expressions, spatial relationships
  • Training exercises - ditto
  • Photos - ditto
  • Rushes - ditto
  • BTS scenes - ditto
Two particularly interesting observations come out of the project for me, when thinking of it as a methodological pilot.

- Spatial, visual and verbal data sometimes highlighted quite different things.  For example, we started work at each of the schools with a walkabout - an opportunity for the host teachers to show the visiting teachers and ourselves around.  I took notes on what the group seemed most interested in.  At both schools there was little obvious interest in classrooms, and instead lot of attention to the schools as places to live and work the land, with some later interest in facilities and their relationship to donors and partners.  Verbal data in relation to this threw up spatial comparisons too, but much more related to teaching practice - noting how school gardens are laid out, and shopping corners inside classrooms. It could relate to the difference between observing what a group does (coarse grained), and what individuals pick up on (harder to do by pure observation).
- There was a very neat demonstration of the differences in the theory-in-practice of pedagogy at the local heuristic level, compared to external and more formal conceptions of it.  One of the key themes in the film was active learning, which our in-team educational experts related to particular mode of working with learners in class (for example, setting tasks for groups to work out rather than individualised rote learning).  Our teacher participants included this in their description of active learning, but drew the boundary much more widely to include sports, the school feeding programme, community relations, and so on.  At one stage it felt like it covered everything and was fairly naive and meaningless.  However, following it up I'd say that it's a robust conceptual structure (there's a good internal logic, and it was consistent across both schools even though they've little to do with one another), it's at the core of these teacher's practice and values, and it's much richer than the formal theoretical notion.  It seems to relate to an holistic idea of learners and creating the best environment for them to take active part in learning.  This covers things like engaging their interest and incentivising their participation in school, as well as working with the community to provide a good social context for education.  It's practical and relates directly to retention and completion.  I'm hoping to get a chance to build some cognitive maps from the interview data to be in a better position to describe it.

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