Using ethnographic approaches with multiple methods to investigate a complex and dynamic social process within a real-world context

Leslie, Pippa (2020) Using ethnographic approaches with multiple methods to investigate a complex and dynamic social process within a real-world context. In: LED Showcase Conference 2020, 4th December 2020, Online. (Unpublished) Full text not available from this repository.

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Abstract

This talk focuses on evaluation of ethnographic approaches applied in a recent case study research project, and aims to provoke a wider discussion around research in real-world, social contexts. Sustained immersion of the researcher in the field using participatory observation is a hallmark of ethnographic studies. However, contemporary ethnographic studies also often combine methods that focus on social interaction, maintain iterative interaction between differ-ent parts of the research, and acknowledge the role of researcher as a primary instrument in the research process (Walsh and Seale, 2018). I set out to design a flexible, qualitative approach that would offer opportunities to deepen understanding of the dynamic and complex interactions in a social context through richly detailed descriptions and explanations. I incorporated these reflexive, educational ethnographic approaches into a case study design to investigate the dynamic nature of the social and physical learning environment in a single primary school setting.
My research was of a case study primary school that had been working to develop children’s beliefs about intelligence for several years prior to my engagement with them. The school staff were trying to develop an approach to teaching that encouraged the belief that intelligence is malleable (Dweck and Yeager, 2019). Problems that ignited my interest included possible misinterpretation of theory and the complexity of the influences of the social learning context. I intend to focus this talk on three methodological aspects of my experience in developing ethnographic approaches within this study; combining multiple methods, ethical challenges and reporting a non-linear research process.
First, I will explain how I adopted a multimethod approach, to bring together information from a variety of sources in the real-world context, to investigate these problems from various angles and perspectives. However, there is a danger in this type of iterative, multimethod approach that the volume of field notes and other data can become overwhelming. I will share how I learned to create some order in this complex, problematic and sometimes contradictory process. I will then go on to highlight some of the other challenges that sustained engagement, developing relationships in the field and the fluid nature of the research design offered. I will share some of the complex ethical implications, in terms of both procedures and practices, that were provoked by my decision to adopt these ethnographic approaches (Guillemin and Gillam, 2004) and some of the strategies that helped me to navigate this terrain and report my findings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Departments: Research Centres > Learning Education and Development (LED)
Depositing User: Christian Stretton
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2020 09:49
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2021 10:19
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/5803

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