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Prue Holmes

Prue Holmes






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  • RM project has afforded me the opportunity to think more deeply about a process I observed and collected data on; but ignored it in the writing up. Describe my PhD research – purpose – to investigate Chinese (international and PR) students’ experiences in te learning environment. 18 month (ethnographic) investigation (observation and interviews), vulnerability of pps, For the participants, complex cognitive and affective processes going onFor the researcher, needs to ensure that participants can contribute in the interview (understand the questions, feel comfortable answering)
  • My engagement and communication with R participants in the research – a hierarchy The Ph.D student – the novice researcher (interviews, observation)Doing research (Chinese students in Durham, focus groups/interviews, case studies}Chinese employee describes miscommunication with NZ employeesA NZ employee describes miscommunication with a Chinese employeeSupervising researchChinese researchersA German RA researching migrant workersSupervising students doing researchMy focus?
  • A metaphorical use of “language” here – it is about using language to enable the research to work.
  • Although I personally identified all of the (initially) 15 participants in my study, they had their own reasons for wanting to engage with me.
  • giving baby a present“You also make some efforts beyond this interview to build this trust. Like when my baby birth, and you sent a gift and visit my family. It’s the same as in China, this campus outside, the events beyond the campus, also beyond the interview, also happen, also can help the trust within the interview.
  • “I think the researcher should be act as friends to the person being research, that’s one thing, and show concern for him or her. I think that is an important thing. Once you get trust from him or from her you can get the information.” (YR)WK said to me informally, “Don’t take too much notice of what I said in the first 6 months”.
  • And then she explained about trying to cook lasagne, and how her pasta “biscuit” wouldn’t get soft, and did you have to soak it beforeThe fact that, although I told them I was a student, in their eyes, I had an office, and therefore was a different kind of student. Also, older, mother.
  • M didn’t want to come, and I forced her. She kept avoiding me. Later she thanked me for “taking care of her”.M scared of talking to the machine, disliked it, but said she got used to it.After YR, SX talked about the difficulty of expressing his answers to these abstract questions about communication experiences. He knew in chinese, but couldn’t find the words in English.WKs long-winded explanation – on the need to change in any way in order to communicate with NZ students:P: “Have you had to change in any way to fit in here, to survive here, for example, ways of behaving or speaking?”WK: I mean, like the life outside is like, change, it’s like….for me I think like you do have to change if you want to like talk to the Kiwis. It’s like the way you talk is sometime like, I mean it’s like…(WK is having trouble explaining. He stops the tape.)P: Say things in a different way or relate to people in a different way than you would in Malaysia. WK: Oh like, here, it’s like, they are always ask like how are you, and all that stuff. Here is like they ask how are you and then, you , I mean, you can just say yes, or no, I mean like, you see that if you don’t to interact with them like you talk more. Like you just say, oh, like I mean, school isn’t that good and all that sort of thing, you ask them, and just interact, and yeah I mean, does that answer your question?
  • PPs beginning to think about their intercultural experiences through the research process. (Julian Edge – bilateral reflexivity)WK: These question that I mean would think anything of. I mean the question are important, but you don’t really think, you can’t get the answers.P: They are not things you think about everyday, things that are happening to you.WK: Yeah, things are happening to me everyday.P: So what’s your response to having been forced to think about these things:WK: It makes me think whether I value, [whether] coming here has had any impact on my life or not, yeah.
  • Checking transcripts: Member checksTo make sure delicate matters were not reported (one person’s escape from involvement in Tiananmen Square; another’s concern at my supervisor, her lecturer, reading about her learning experiences in his class)Researcher’s cultural misinterpretation“I’m quite interested in what you are thinking and doing and also I am…I want to give you some help if you…because, you know, the culture is very complicated thing so maybe you’re not very…although you stayed in China or in Hong Kong for some…for a few years…but maybe I think you’re not very well understand..you’re not well understand about the culture in China, but I think the understanding of the culture is quite important in your research. So I think if I know what you are thinking and you are doing, maybe something I know, maybe you are not right, so I can tell you…” (KZ)KZ went on to say that he had read some books written by famous Western authors on chinese values and culture, “but they don’t really understand some simple things”. Interest in outcomes of the RAS The research is important as I am finding out what international students are saying and thinking; therefore more people understand the problems, difficulties, or good things, - what they want to say, but don’t say.
  • “language needs” – metaphorical and linguistic.Were pps taking part out of politeness and obligation? I felt that the participants did not want to engage with me in this topic or these conversations, but made them come. (e.g., V, and YR, giving up her time – which she confessed she did not like doing, especially when I failed to record an interview with her and asked her to do it again.)PPs’ final comments:“Initially like, just like obligation, because I agreed, but now I feel it’s a contribution, it is a sort of pleasure, no[t] say it’s a pleasure, but its good. I don’t mind, I like, I like it.” (WK)M: “I never think about, what’s the value of my culture and what happen, because it’s, I think it is very natural, I never think about the value, cultural value, in New Zealand…how they influence me. After the interview I think about this question. This is my first time to think about it.”

Prue Holmes Prue Holmes Presentation Transcript

  • Prue HolmesDurham University
  • Language and interpersonalcommunication in the research site The research participants are negotiating  The language  Their relationship with the researcher (power)  The research topic  The research vis-à-vis their own experience The researcher is negotiating  The language  Her relationship with participants (power, building trust)  Getting data to achieve objectives
  • Researching multilingually:A hierarchy of access and engagement The Ph.D student novice researcher Doing research Interviews Focus groups Case studies Supervising research Supervising students doing research
  • The language of the researcher-participant experience Motivation for participating in the research The experience of being a research participant Building a relationship with the R (or not) Building trust Negotiating the language of the interview Positioning and power Interpreting and representing the data
  • Motivation for participation To learn about the process of researching “I learned how to ask questions, how to make a rapport with the interviewees from you” (YR) To practise English To make friends with a NZer To learn more about NZ To find out what the R wanted to know about the PPs To behave responsibly (in a research environment) “I should be cooperative, whatever difficulty I had, so that is why I never refused you…but I thought, oh maybe waste my time!” (YR)
  • Building a relationship“Initial data might not be very accurate because we were…self-conscious, getting the right answers for you.” (WK)“I don’t think there are some very ??? effect or difference in ??? our culture, but I think it’s true that I feel much better and better when I communicate with you. Yeah, I mean much more comfortable. When I first talk with you, probably because of my language problem. Probably, we don’t know each other, you know, but today you can understand, get a far insight of my thought. You understand me now, to some extent. It’s getting better and better.” (LJ)
  • Building a relationship…or not!“I have been here almost three years, so all of my feeling is the same I think.” (V)And later…V: Sometimes it’s very boring. You ask me the same question, and I answer you the same answer as well, similar answer. I told you already.P: A bit different, because you didn’t mention about all those Kiwi friends you mixed with. That must have made a difference to your life.V: Mm, but not too much different.
  • Building trust“The more we talk, the more I can…I know your personality. The most important thing is the personality, so I know you will not do some harm to me and so I can trust you.” (KZ)“So like slowly your influence, that I don’t need to be afraid of you.” [And later] “I don’t know who are you and what are all the kind of, you know, like, when I first came here…I don’t trust you.” (WK)
  • Positioning and powerAS: It’s just good to have a meeting time, lecturer, like you.P: I’m a student.AS: No, you are lecturer before, so it’s a good experience I think…P: To get to know a lecturer, a student, more, a NZer, more closely…AS: Yeah, more closely…And as I told you, I do well in this research and you try to look after all the research participants very well I think. Contact very well, and especially the dinner, is unforgettable.=> “The Godmother”
  • Minimising power distance to encourage engagementFrom passivity to creativitySX: At first, when you talked with me and I think, oh, you are a lecturer or you, I mean, you’ve got a high position and I yeah, I should I mean to follow you at every aspect. But gradually, gradually, I mean, yeah, this, I mean, something has been changed and now I mean, I know that’s what I say at first I think I’m just a passive passive role, and finally I know actually both of us are…P: Creating…SX: …are creating, yeah, so it’s different.
  • Language of the interview“I’m quite slow thinker, I mean I need time to think of the question. If interview straight away the question, I sometimes, when I the answer that I give have to justify or change later when I think more about it. Or I might have something to add. Because maybe its just I prepare.” (AS)“I don’t like to have interview because I feel uncomfortable, you know, because I have to speak English…Sometime we have interview, I have, I don’t understand. I think that difficult question also good for me, to think about it.” (M)“Sometimes the language, I haven’t been thought about that, and sometimes, for example, the value, the community, I haven’t used that. For Chinese that’s a strange word…I learn the words in “Intercultural Communication.” I also feel the word is quite strange. “ (FX)“This question is quite abstract now!” (YR sighs with exasperation!)
  • Language of the research topic:reflexivity“You has given me some information how to communicate with the other people. It’s what I did not think before you we made this programme. And after you talk with me about this question of course it forced me to thought about that, to think about that.” (SX)“Some questions I never thought about it, and when you ask me and I will start thinking about, yeah, it’s a kind of self value…I quite enjoying this sort of self-evaluation.” (KZ)“ Through this interview I can clear my mind and I’m thinking, “why I’m different from the other people, and why I come here, and I can explain to you and I can also explain to myself as well.” (LJ)
  • Participants’ concerns about datainterpretation Checking transcripts  Member checks Interpreting the data  Researcher’s cultural misinterpretation  Interest in the outcomes of the research Writing up the study  Sanitising the language and “story” for the supervisor
  • Conclusions: Building a multilingualresearch contextMultilingual researchers must… Understand participants’ language needs Recognise their responsibility towards the participant (as a cultural informant) Problematise language when abstract concepts like culture, values, social experience are foregrounded Consider providing questions in advance Seek to minimise power distance Build trust Acknowledge and accommodate bilateral reflexivity