Using the 'Life Grid' methodology as a qualitative research tool. Presentation Transcript
Transitional activities for widening participation: Exploring a “Life Grid” approach in understanding the early HE experiences of students in one institution RESEARCH TEAM Dr Linda Murray - Director of Academic Practice Development Unit Dr Julia Stephenson - Research Fellow Anu Sharma and Natalie Parnis - Members of the Learning and Technology Advisory Team
Overview of our Workshop Project overview Introduction to the Life Grid methodology The Transitional Experience Life Grid Fishbowl Life Grid demonstration Life Grid activity Discussion of the methodology in practice Method of analysis Outcomes of the project so far
The e-Transition Project Objective To facilitate the transition of mature students and those with non-traditional qualifications into Higher Education. Preparatory Programmes - ‘E-Welcome’ and ‘Higher Education Preparation’ ‘GetPROGRESSive’ – e-portfolio PDP activities Research study. Interventions
The Research Aim To explore factors that impinge on students’ lives as they adjust to studying at University.
Introduction to the ‘Life Grid’ method History / background Prior uses include the work of: Odette Parry, Carolyn Thomson, Gerry Fowkes (1999, 2001) David Blane & Lee Berney (1996, 2003) A method for collecting retrospective data Participatory interviewing technique Sarah Wilson, Sarah Cunningham-Burley, Angus Bancroft, Kathryn Backett-Milburn & Hugh Masters (2007) Allows for the construction of a visual temporal framework.
Berney & Blane, 2003 Life Grid Structure Parry et al, 1999 Bell, 2005 Parry et al, 1999
Critical Advantages of the Life Grid Good aide memoire Stimulates accurate recall Visual and interactive thus engaging Facilitates discussion Improves rapport between interviewer/interviewee Facilitates the asking of difficult questions Generates an informal atmosphere Decreased eye contact puts student at ease.
Berney & Blane (2003) “The lifegrid approach is extremely flexible and allows for the subject to determine the recall cues. The researcher can quickly identify those areas which assist the recall process whilst simultaneously developing rapport. This should not be understated.” (page 19) Berney , L. & Blane, D. (2003) The Lifegrid method of collecting Retrospective Information from People at Older Ages. Research Policy and Planning, 21(2), 13-22.
The Transitional Experience Life Grid Flashbulb column X axis: different life areas Y axis: weeks in Term 1 “Interviewer and/or interviewee completed the grid” “Interview duration approximately 45 minutes” “One grid per interviewee” “39 students were interviewed” “The grids were A2 in size” “Interviews were audio-recorded”
Nature of the Life Grid Interview OVERVIEW LOGISTICS Need physical space to accommodate size of grid Interviewer and respondent often sit in close proximity/adjacent so seating arrangements are important Use of small post-it notes to avoid grid space constraints. Semi structured qualitative conversations were supported with the Life Grid Students were encouraged to bring diaries to aid in recalling dates Grid completion was a joint endeavour between researcher and interviewee Note-taker was present to take additional notes Conversations were recorded Students were encouraged to work chronologically, but not stopped if deviated.
Work in Waitrose (12 hrs a week) Visit London every 2 wks to see girlfriend Car Family Brunel acceptance letter Attended Library tour Met with personal Tutor Visits Library 3 x week Money Cooking Cleaning Washing Enrolled at Gym Moved into Halls Birthday The Transitional Experience Life Grid
Life Grid Preparation and Considerations Please arrange into groups Each group with: ONE interviewer Simulate a short interview ONE interviewee ONE note-taker Remaining participants as observers During your activity consider the following: Evaluate the technique Is it suitable for use in your context? Consider other innovative ways in which the methodology may be deployed within the institution.
Life Grid Activity MATERIALS: Life Grid poster, pen, Post-it notes, biro, interviewer questions, note-taker document, tape-recorder, consent form.
Data collection and analysis “Data analysis was an exploratory, confirmatory and iterative process” Research outcomes including visualisations Joint thematic content analysis
Examples of Visualisations non-HEP cohort non-HEP and HEP cohorts combined “Also, a written report representing the HEP cohort was created.”
Research Outcomes An example of a visualisation Someemergent themes Evaluation of the University provision
Visualisation – One Student's Life
Some Emergent Themes Complexity and Flexibility Social Integration Timely, targeted and tailored support
Emergent Themes Complexity and Flexibility ” Timetable seems to favour people who live on campus...I’ve done what is best for me and making progress” Worst moment: “Probably the jobs...spending ages going through the timetable and not being able to give me the job because I am not available enough basically.”
Emergent Themes Social Integration Best moment: “When a girl told me she didn’t care about my age.” “..I also had to get to know everyone from scratch.. I lost a lot of friendships and ties that I made over the years.” “You try to spend as many hours on campus just to feel involved but you still won’t be able to say ‘I’m from Mill Hall!’”
Emergent Themes Timely, targeted & tailored support “It would have been nice if I’d got it sooner… by the time I’ve handed in my 2nd assignment so that I‘d know what I was doing wrong”. “I email lecturers fairly often if I don’t understand something. Usually, when I have an assignment to do.”
Evaluation of University Provision “I use u-Link for everything...everything that goes on, goes on u-Link.... I am on it constantly as it’s got everything on it... It is hugely valuable” “I was not aware you could do anything with it” “ u-Link (Virtual Learning Environment) Higher Education Preparation (HEP) course / Intro ULL “Mature Students that I know that did not attend that course have really felt like a fish out of water and would really have benefitted from it.”
Don’t have one Getting feedback for first assignment (x2) Argument with flatmate Living in halls Feels safe here, no bullets Going out with friends for birthday Chosen to be a Widening Participation Officer Worrying about memory issues and confidence Bike stolen Enrolment Best and Worst Moments HEP ULL week - priceless First outings with TROGS Freshers’ week Meet new people and expand social network Falling behind with probability Getting no sleep because of friend’s party Dad visiting Ensemble performances Working with friends Sitting in canteen among friends, eating high quality food and feeling high quality Stressing about submitting an assignment on u-Link as they put up the wrong date Standing with friend at the Hamilton red wall checking out the guys Missing part of Man U match during enrolment CD player stolen Girl telling student she didn’t care about his age Non-HEP Timetabling issues and hence declining 2 jobs Meeting horrible guys who turn out to be immature Man U winning 4-3 Meeting the girls on OT course Selling car 2nd week of lectures, course felt established BBQ week 1 First mock test Getting assignment in on time Monday is a really long day Moving to halls Freshers’ ball Personal tutor giving excellent feedback and being told had promising start Going to Tiger Tiger Everything - loads of bureaucracy slowing student down Library quiet area – not quiet Parking ticket
University Expectations Yes, and a bit more. We were told at college that we would be on our own. Actually it’s not like that – really supportive Yes, down to earth Uni, ****** teach you in a stuck up way because they want you to be stuck up…..**** mother you Yes (x2) Yes, enjoying Uni life Thought course might be more practical, but that might come in time No, thought would have more lectures Pleasantly surprised Easier than expected Pretty much Uni / course expectations met? Had no expectations Balance about right, but not happy with 7pm lecture Everyone made out it would be a shock, but it wasn’t Not sure how I was going to find it Yes, a bit fast paced, but coping well Did a lot of research, Brunel gave more information No, thought course would start slowly, but you have to put in a lot of work Were a high quality standard Yes met expectations, wouldn’t expect anything less. But it’s still early on in the term
New Year Resolultions Try and plan assignments in advance and keep on top of it and to eat healthier None To chill out, took Uni too seriously (was overwhelmed) Resolutions to be decided after January exams Find time to read more Keep an eye on deadlines and get a better calendar None New Year’s Resolutions for the second term None – hoping the foundation year will prepare me None To be on top of work None To organise notes and use diary better Resolutions depend on outcome of exams in week 10 Do exams/tests as soon as they are set None – its being going well so far Do more reading and prep material None To try and keep on top of work
References Bell, A.J. (2005) “Oh yes, I remember it well!” Reflections on using the life-grid in qualitative interviews with couples. Qualitative Sociology Review, 1(1), 51-67. Berney, L.R., & Blane, D.B. (1996) Collecting retrospective data: Accuracy of recall after 50 years judged against historical records. Social Science and Medicine, 45, 1519-1525. Berney, L.R., & Blane, D.B. (2003) The Lifegrid method of collecting retrospective information from people at older ages. Research Policy and Planning, 21(2), 13-22. Parry, O., Thomson, C. & Fowkes, F.G.R(1999) Life course data collection: Qualitative interviewing using the life grid. Sociological Research Online: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/2/parry.html Parry, O., Fowkes, F.G.R., & Thomson, C. (2001) Accounts of quitting among older ex-smokers with somking-related disease. Journal of Health Psychology, 481-493. Wilson, S., Cunningham-Burley, S., Bancroft, A., Backett-Milburn, K., & Masters, H. (2007) Young people, biographical narratives and the life grid: young people’s accounts of parental substance. Qualitative Research, 7(1), 135-151.
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