The analysis of the projects

Ok, so I have gone through the projects/artefacts following the chunks process. Now, I am looking at taking a step back in terms of working towards a structure and analytical framework for the writing up the projects in the exegesis. Returning to the article, ‘Content, structure and orientations of the practice-led exegesis’, the authors raise some interesting points in relation to a discussion on how the ‘researcher’s creations’ are theorised in the exegesis. They point out this analysis links back to the ‘practical contexts’ and ‘orientating concepts sections’. I am interested in avoiding to much frontloading by reducing these sections, which means some of these sections need to be integrated into the analysis of the projects. Therefore, I need to keep this in mind as I bring the chunks together to define the structure.

They also discuss the issue of integrating aspects of the ‘context model’ and ‘commentary model’ (p.6) approaches towards writing up the projects. The context model relies heavily on using a pre-existing theoretical framework to discuss the creative works produced sometimes to a point that bypasses any discussion on what is made. In contrast, the commentary model can become too introspective and lose site of contextualising the research practice – i.e. The writing/analysis is done in a silo. What is more important, focusing on connecting the practice externally or writing from a personal internal perspective? The Schon model of the reflective practitioner I would argue follows the internal, more personal perspective. Thinking about the reflective practitioner model in relation to my own research, external factors here include the affordances and constraints that are inhibiting finding a solution to the problem. Examples in this research could also be things like analysing other practices like videoblogging to get ideas to move the design inquiry onwards. Others, conducting interviews with other practitioners and presenting the artefacts at public forums for critique and feedback.

The authors advocate a ‘connective model’ that brings the two together. They argue that a researcher could draw from both of these models and set a particular perspective towards the approach taken towards the writing. A poly-vocal approach of different writing styles that addresses the issue of contextualising by having the ‘practical contexts’ and ‘orientating concepts sections’ up the front before the internally focused ‘researcher’s creations’ section further into the exegesis.

In this analysis of ‘messy problems’ as supporting material for honours students research, a similar issue of the context model emerges, in regards to the theory drowning the practice. The theory takes over and becomes primary, the practice/artefacts secondary. Following a hermeneutic framing, in this proposed model, an understanding of practice and how it contributes to knowledge is taken from the personal – what is known and understood, as stated ‘a horizon of understanding’. For example, the analysis of this research problem may be conducted from the tacit knowledge I have built up over the years around documentary production, in relation to what I know. But, how is this progressing the practitioner as a key objective of practice-led research? Instead the author argues here that there has to be an extension beyond what the researcher already knows, which is achieved by engaging in two-way dialogue with the problem that is being investigated. The exegesis and the analysis of the artefacts produced becomes within this approach a dialogue between the two models above ‘context’ and ‘commentary’. This is not applying the theory to the practice. Instead it is about what can potentially emerge out of bringing the known understanding of the practitioner together with theoretical concepts being referred to, as a type of ‘conversation.’ I see the practice and the tacit knowledge taking the primary role in this approach. The practitioner refers to theoretical concepts in order to understand in more depth the problem they are researching, along with using theory to extend and progress their own practice. The practitioner in this approach, controls the use of theory for his or her own means.

Then there is how this could work in the writing. In ‘Helping doctoral students write pedagogies for supervision’ in the chapter ‘Reconsidering the personal’ (p 59-80) the authors provide some examples of how writing in the first person integrates theory from a ‘reflexive’ position. Reflexive in this context is about using in the approach towards the writing, the same critiquing and questioning that is used in this case, the research practice as the principal mode of data collection. Theory in this writing does not take a primary position. Instead, the writer engages in a conversation with ideas from the theory and dictates how that conversation will be shaped. (p. 72) In the example provided the writer, writes out a very personal analysis from a first person perspective, first to develop thinking and ideas around what is occurring in a real world situation (a project, field research some type of creative practice) . This writing and thinking is then translated into a conversation type framing, with some specific theory that both contextualises what is occurring and develops the researchers understanding of the situation being explored.

References:
Hamilton, J & Jaaniste, L 2009, ‘Content, structure and orientations of the practice-led exegesis, Art.Media.Design : Writing Intersections, viewed October 20 2010, .
Kamler, B & Thomson, P 2006, Helping doctoral students write pedagogies for supervision, Taylor & Francis Ltd, Hoboken. (extract ‘Chunks, moves and choreography’ p 90-94)
Adrian Miles, Messy object of Study, Labsome research workshop http://labsome.rmit.edu.au/courseware/3/MessyobjectofStudy.html, 2010.

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