QualMIP Week 3: protocol testing and “qual is everywhere”

February 8, 2016 – 3:38 pm

Part of the QualMIP series, diagnosis  introduced here.

Part 1: Protocol testing

Today’s studio time started with a guest appearance by Elizabeth Doyle, more about who brought a rough protocol draft for her capstone project. Our mission: split into pairs and stress-test the protocol, and trying to misinterpret questions in as many ways as possible. By doing this, we were trying to look at what makes a protocol robust and mature (like last week’s “Life Stories” protocol) vs easily thrown off (which we’d expect from any protocol draft — this is why piloting is so important). Just like code reviews and editing writing are important, testing our qualitative research prototypes is how we iterate and make ethem better.

Part 2: Everything can be a qualitative research project

After a review of what we’ve learned from our experiences so far and a discussion on future project focus, I stepped back and asked the team: how have they observed me using the techniques we’ve been playing with inside our studio time itself — in other words, “if I (Mel) have been treating this engagement as a qualitative research project, what could you say about my study design?”

We discussed my study population and unit of analysis (the three of them, primarily as individuals) and data collection methods (open-ended, opportunistic, blended methodologies; echoing their language a lot, using concrete referents and artifacts to provide commonality) and research question (“how do Olin students experience qualitative fieldwork?”) alongside other things.

The point was to make visible that these techniques aren’t only for formal engagement, they can be used at any time and in any situation. Just like every movement is a dance even if it’s outside a dance studio, every conversation is an interview and every document can be analyzed, and so forth in daily life.

Preparing for next week

Paige, Cesar, and Emily are under instructions to produce at least 100 research questions for their space (“dance meetups”) in any Mel-consumable format, with some sort of organization.

Next week, Mel and Brittany will be on a plane to El Paso, so a scavenger hunt exercise in document analysis will be waiting in the office during our normal studio time.

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