Category Archives: autoethnography

Progress 21.03.16


Tapes In My Head.

This is an extremely slow and lonely process, even when I am working collaboratively alongside my students, as I will attempt to articulate. The other week I conducted a focus group (11.03.16) uncertain that participants are even bothered about identifying their skills (can be considered a low point); my drive to alter their thinking falls away like apple blossom in spring.


As I listen back to the audio, my voice is anxious, at times desperate. It is strange how I push on working with audio even though I am uncomfortable with my voice. Trying to unlearn those old voices that haunt me by learning to accept my voice is a personal thing, not really related to the actual project but integrated into my methodology nevertheless. It helps me to write this.

Time and gravity permit the data to fall away as I obsess with fear that I might have failed to document and capture the fall even. Did I think enough about my own coherency, delivery and presentation? No, I just pressed the record button and proceeded. I need to be more considered in future.

I am trapped in a DIY research prism-prison that circulates project intentions against and alongside the tensions of the potential for failed planned interventions time and time again. The tensions of process are central to this struggle and working through the tensions part of the process.

I am moving forward and unexpected interesting things are happening. I recall fragments of what was said by some participants but don’t fully grasp them until I playback the audio. Listening to the conversations remind me that it happened, data was collected. Playback stops me from feeling lonely. It’s slow because I have recorded everything on a hand-held camera, then I extract audio using Final Cut software, then I export as an AIFF file, then I convert into MP3 – the plan is to collate eventually on SoundCloud as breaded trail. I should have just bought a hand-held dictaphone.

I still need to transcribe, analyse and make sense of the narratives…

I move rooms; the afternoon sun is blinding my concentration. The hall seems better. It has a walkway and a door.



Ex-Student Tapes (Audio Testimonies)

I have interviewed four ex-media students so far (since Feb) and recorded their testimonies regarding their thoughts on transferable skills having left college (in some cases many years ago) and having been in employment (various positions) having left education.

I intend to track down and interview an additional two more ex-students/ participants. The intention being that this information can then feed into and impact more purposefully on the action cycles I continue to carry out with my MED2 group of participants. At the very least the audio will prove useful for my current research participants to reflect upon in terms of ex-media student pathways.


For fear of data overload, I have decided to use MED1 and MUS1 participants to evaluate usage with minimal intervention from me just to see if any participants actively and independently choose to use the transferable skills tool.

Talking to the past whilst informing the future…

The focus group findings obtained (so far) already tell me the original devised tracker is too long. A list possibly so extensive that it would be unreasonable to expect participants to reflect with any rigor (taking into account the demands of the curriculum). So, we seek to collaboratively (discursively) reduce the list as a next action point although before I do so I think it important to discuss the skills identified by the ex-students so far as this might impact on what skills to go forward with. The ex-students informing the current cohort. A reflective dimension I hadn’t originally planned for until a Skype conversation with one of my supervisors at BU (Jenny Moon) in February. The condition of being open to change is essential as I continue to travel down my research path, carving (Sarte, 1963) ‘hodological’ connections wherever and whenever I can.

I am learning to enjoy the solitude of doctorate research, however lonely at times, it has become my friend. It grounds me and keeps me consistent (relatively speaking) through the ups and downs.


I look at the door as I remember it’s time to collect the kids from school. I might well exit through the doorway for pick up but won’t be able to escape the struggles of this doctorate as I think about what to have for tea.





JAN 26TH 2016 Progress

Beginning to collate data obtained so far after a two-week undiagnosed bout of ecoli and a visit from Ofsted after the new year celebrations (not).

Ethical/ Consent Note: Permissions have been granted by all participating students (18+) and for those who are 16-17 parental consent has been obtained and assent form signed also prior to any data collection taking place.

Progress so far with participants…

I have carried out short 1-1 interviews (audio transcripted) with Nicola Woodhouse (Employability Co-Ordinator at MCC) and Dr Pete Fraser (Media Educationalist) via Skype.

Group 1 (MED2): I will be continuing to work with participants (and who happen to be my own students this academic year) who took part in my original pilot back in April 15 and who have agreed to continue onto Phase 2 (11 in total).

Having already identified a top 10 cohort list of ‘transferable skills,’ this group of participants are currently using a devised tracking sheet in relation to their current production work (Unit 36 Interview Techniques on the BTEC spec). The participants will continue to identify, apply and reflect (audio) on a monthly basis on the transferable skills accrued from January through to June (when they exit the Ext. Diploma Media Production course and onto their new/ individual pathways).


Group 2 (MED1): Participants who agreed to take part in my research are enrolled/ part of the new intake for the 90-Credit Media Production (8 in total).

The participants have identified key word/terms they believe to represent their understanding of the term transferable skills at this point in time. See ‘Photos MED1’ tab for photographic documentation of this data (this took place on Fri 15.01.16).


Group 3 (MUS1): Participants who agreed to take part in my research are enrolled/ part of the new intake for the 90-Credit Music Production (8 in total).

The participants have identified key word/terms they believe to represent their understanding of the term transferable skills at this point in time. See ‘Photos MUS1’ tab for photographic documentation of this data (this took place on Fri 22.01.16).

3 MUS1 students could not attend the visited RBL session due to either Maths tests or other personal issues so I hope to pick up on this outstanding data this coming Friday (29th Jan 2016). Once I have obtained that data (outstanding MUS1) I will mirror exactly the same procedure as I will with MED1 (see below) but a week later.

ACTION: Obtain outstanding data from absent MUS1 participants = COMPLETE 2.2.16.

What next…

I will now collate (talli) in a list all the words put forward by MED1 in preparation for integrating that data into a SurveyMonkey questionnaire, when the participants will reflect on data produced and be given the opportunity to then rank those key words during our next research session.

ACTION: Collate/ Talli Data (MUS1 and MED1) + upload onto Flickr = COMPLETE 2.2.16.

Research Narrative: This is intended as a starting point and the research is focused on how meaning, interpretation and application of the original words identified change/ develop (if at all) across a 6-month period. It is also of interest to see if participants use the tracking sheet independently and how often, if at all.

Homeward Bound – Bournemouth to Manchester 9.10.15

IMG_0456IMG_0455IMG_0454IMG_0453IMG_0452Boarding Passes

Bit jaded from a late night celebrating our transfer viva successes but returning with inner positivity as I actually managed to present to other doctoral students and members of the CEMP team with confidence and clarity.  Massive step change for me.  I hope I have unlocked a metal block/ fear that has lived with me for the last 3 decades. I know the support of the CEMP Team at BU helped me get there/ here. Education really does have the power to affect change.

Post-Transfer Thoughts

Went well, I got through. The experience has made me feel more confident and focused.

Felt unexpectedly quite emotional but then very drained afterwards. After my third excuse for a celebration and a bit of shopping therapy, I decided it was time to regain my focus as there is still some way to go.

Currently, I am putting together a hand out to accompany my story post-transfer presentation in Bournemouth next week at the residential. I have decided to revise my title too. It’s sharpens my focus and would help me communicate my project more effectively as an elevator pitch but will need to discuss with my new supervisory team!

Flying to Bournemouth not Southampton Airport this time. Hope it was a good decision.

The Night Before the Transfer Viva 16.09.15

First day at school,

first day in high school.

Heading to the hospital to give birth (twice).

Starting a new job,

attending an interview.

Now middle-aged, few things in life evoke that gut fear, the fear that makes you feel sick in the stomach and when life becomes very real somehow.

More real than normal.

My flaws, my strengths, my contradictions and ambitions.

Feeling fragile and vulnerable and four again. The unknown.

Do I know what I think I know?

Countdown to my transfer viva at BU.

Defend position but not defensive.

Meditate and believe.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 16.02.04 Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 16.02.57 Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 16.05.44

23.06.15 Transfer Report Map for BU – Done and uploaded onto forum.

The slightly chaotic tones expressed in this very simple but manic children’s song relates to how my mind has been recently, swirling in very direction except the one that commanded assertion and decision – the need to produce my transfer report map ready for my tutorial later in the week! Got there in the end.

Recently,  I have been busy writing/ finalising my new chapter for (forthcoming Autumn 2015) ‘Making Text’ book/ digital project which I am very excited about. Sent final version through to my editor yesterday. Just need to devise the digital companion to accompany it now over summer.

Doing a Doctorate obviously involves focus and discipline but even the publishing opportunities it brings usually equate to just doing more work!

The actual final Transfer Report is due 13th July so head down between now and then to get that to a stage I am happy with and submitted on time.

Viva: 17th September 2015.

Better get back to it.