QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS…..an approach towards developing a new insight…!

When I started with this course, it was absolutely hazy for me to see the reasons for learning the methods of research.

I was not at all able to connect the reasons to our course. We soon got linked to a government school which was mainly for the students coming from the families below the poverty line. We visited the school a couple of times before we had to choose and finalize our research questions. I chose to research on “Relationships at School”. My research question was framed like this – “What kind of relationships are formed among the students and in between the students and the teachers at school?” I felt that researching relationships was important because it helps in knowing what helps a teacher or a student react in a particular way (negative or positive), how they work together, how they store or share things. All this leads to the formation of a better education system. Also, all this was important for me because I was carrying out this research with a thought of developing a space for carrying out various activities and studies at a school. an

Before going out to the school for observations, we ready the texts from Paulo Freire and Gandhi’s Nai Talim to have a better understanding of the scholl and its traditional way of working and the view points of the different writers.

Every week, we visited the school, met the children, spoke to them and made various observations with the help of our various senses. We observed with eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the brain.

We made the field notes for keeping the observations collectively. After we had a little understanding of the school and its curriculum, we further disaggregated our research questions into various fragments that would lead us to the answer of the main question. These were the sub questions.

We further simplified our research by building mind maps or affinity diagrams that exactly pointed towards those aspects of research that were important for getting the answers to the sub question.

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After coming to the main points of the main question, we built our research plan, which was a document that included the sub-questions, the number of interviews that were to be taken for carrying out our research, the focus groups that were to be performed for getting the answers indirectly from the people of the school.

When we had finally prepared our research plans, we went back to look at the works and studies that have already been performed on the chosen topics. I chose to read – Exploring the bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools by Elspeth Page and Jyothsna Jha, Attachment theory and the teacher-student relationship by Philip Riley and Social Life in School by Peter Blatchford for knowing what had already been said about the relationships at school at various levels.

We further made the interview guides for interviewing the teachers and the students on the key points. We recorded the interview and later prepared the transcripts of all the interviews that were taken for our better understanding of their idea and thoughts.

Finally, when we had all the data in hand – the field notes of various days, the interview transcripts, the readings and their specific points and the data of the focus groups, it was time to analyse the data. It was time to come up with the basic analysis and taking any one observation further so that it adds to the information on that topic.

I analyzed the data and concluded that “Although the students are very friendly among themselves at school, they tend to develop misunderstanding if confronted by their own friends against their wrong actions” and “The student-teacher bond, although formal is very strong but the generation gap between the students and the teachers at school adds to the ambiguity of understanding relations at school“.

I am still thinking about that small point that I can take further and make a statement which adds to the existing theories of relationships at school.

After completing the research, we put up an exhibition at the school where we displayed the key points of observations and conclusions of our research. The management and faculty appreciated our effort and were looking forward to the changes that could be made to improve the school that were shown in our research reports.

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By the end of the course,I was very much capable of answering my own question of ‘What is the importance of research methods and why this course’. I discovered that for carrying out any new discovery, or for building anything new, it is very important to know what has been done already and how do the people and the things around you behave.

The complete methodology of defining the topic and question of interest, then dis-aggregating it for better understanding, then observing the elements related to the sub-topics, reading and viewing existing material, talking and listening to the people’s point of view and finally analysing the data, leads to a new discovery. It struck to me that this is what I was looking forward to do further – to have my own new ideas and methods of design. The process has finally defined the approach to carry on my desire of innovation in design further.

 

 

Gallery 2 – Identity with the sense of historicty!

In the memory lab gallery of the second movement, we shared stories of collective history, with a personal twist. These stories highlighted the influences that have been drawn from the ancestral reigns and recorded by the voices of the families. The underlying forces of history flew within these stories in a timeless way.

I worked on this project with my memory of my grandfather telling us the stories of his past experiences while we used to sit leisurely in the verandah and how I used to paint while listening to him and slowly joined the rest who were listening, leaving my canvas.

I was able to recall one of his experiences which was related to the 1984 riots between the Sikhs and the Hindus. He told us that after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, the prime minister of India then, there was a retaliatory violence all over the country. Everywhere the Sikhs and the Hindus murdered each other. That time, he gave shelter to four/five of his Sikh friends in our house and for a week looked after their food and clothing before transferring them to a safer place.

Remembering his memory, I developed my artwork where I intended to portray how at the times of these conflicts, there must be chaos and violence outside the house to the contradictory calmness and fear inside the house. I incorporated my images of my grandfather’s story onto my canvas. Thus, I used the canvas as my archival object.

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After knowing what I had to portray and make the people feel, it was a little difficult for me to figure out how should I execute what I was thinking. A couple of days went by. And suddenly, while discussing my concept with someone, it popped in my head, why shouldn’t I create a house? A human-scale space which can be thought of a house. That would be the best way to make the viewer feel what my grandfather must have felt then. Bingo! 

I immediately started to think over the constructional elements and the materials that I would use for creating the house-like space. Initially I had thought of using mount-board sheets but as soon as I went to the market for purchasing them, my eyes rolled over the thermocol sheets. I don’t remember what went wrong in my head when I purchased a huge bundle of thermocol. Maybe the size carried me away. I never thought initially how trouble-some it would be to work with thermocol. Apart from that, I didn’t even think how the structure will be made to stand thermocol….the lightest material. 

After discussing the structure with a couple of my friends, I decided to create a wooden-frame skeleton and then covering the frame with thermocol sheets.

On the day of the exhibition, I started working on the wooden framing on site. within a span of 3 hours, I was able to complete the structure.

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 Then I started placing the thermocol sheets on the frame with the two-way tape.

 

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I soon finished the structure. Placed the table and chairs inside the space and the canvas and the related things outside.

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My idea was to project the video of the events that took place back in 1984 on the backside of the house and on the opposite side, that is on the entrance side, I placed the canvas outside and let people enter inside after gazing at the image. 

Although the idea sounds complete, it did not work out. When the visitors came in to visit the exhibition, they could not relate to the outside and the inside. Apart from that, they were unable to point that the video was a part of my artwork. The first day of the exhibition turned out to be pathetic for me. As my idea was not being conveyed to the viewers, the thermocol pieces were repeatedly falling off their places and I didn’t even work on the element of light inside the house. It never occurred to me that as the exhibition was to be held in the evening, light would be important. I gave up for the day and had made it a point that the next day  I will definitely fix everything and make my presentation better.

On the next day, I went a couple of hours earlier to the gallery as I was prepared to see my structure naked. I was ready to make the changes that I had thought of initially.

First of all, I turned my piece at an angle of 180 degrees, so that the entrance of the house was at the same side as that of the projection. I then put all the thermocol sheets in place by binding them together with the packing tape so that they stay intact and do not fall off. I placed the canvas inside the house and added certain other elements to give it a homely feel, like the eatables and the tea pots. I lit the house by adding candles to the place. And last, but not the least, I had already changed the sound of the video which was now different and in contrast to the sound inside the house unlike the day before. Everything fell in place the second day.

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The viewers could now clearly see what I wanted them to see. They could connect the inside and the outside. They could feel the coziness of the house an the happenings outside the house.

One of the visitors added a different meaning to my concept. As the structure of Jaaga was made up of waste materials and mild steel framing, the floor trembled while anyone walked on it. So, the viewer felt that the shaking of the  floor was the violence outside and one could feel the tremors inside which added to the fear.

While working in the memory lab for this project, I went through and experienced all the steps of execution of any idea very deeply. The project was interesting and stressful at the same time which made it more challenging. I dealt with a comparatively new material this time – thermocol, and now I very well know where to use it and how to use it. 

I was able to notice advancement within myself in terms of new ideas. Finally, the exhibition ended well because I was able to achieve what I wanted to