There is lots of attempts to post this but I got there!!!!
As a reflective practitioner, my enquiry questions how I will refine my dance artistry to develop the lifelong learning of male dancers, after reflecting on effects of warmup protocols, action research and teaching styles.
The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) transformed Scottish Education by providing flexible and enriched curriculum from 3-18 (Scottish Government, 2009). CfE-dance was included as an independent subject and as a performance skill within Physical Education. The impact of curricular dance has become diminished nationally due to lack of teaching provision and reduction in timetabled subjects (DanceUK, 2012). Successful reform lies in engaging teachers and dance artists in shaping and evaluating change (Donaldson, 2015).
My research focuses on improving boys’ attainment as they remain under-represented in dance compared with related disciplines (Gray, 2007). Scotland’s attainment gap in boys is the highest in the developed world (Sosu & Ellis, 2014). Quality indicators focuses practice on closing the vocational attainment gap and equips learners with lifeskills (Education Scotland, 2015a).
In line with GIRFEC, my enquiry addresses learning barriers in dance training and investigates teaching styles. Boys tend to achieve where teaching strategies are strict but fair and use active thinking (Education Scotland, 2015b). Dance education currently adopts a process of create-refine-appreciate rather than physical dance technique (Smith-Autard, 2002). More male dance teachers will not solve the problem as it is the format and content that boys resist not the movement (Gray, 2007). Laban had a vision that everyone could access dance through exploration of intent using movement analysis (Redfern, 1973). Research was limited and never expanded to order movements in space to account for body structure. Research is required to determine if rebalancing the Scottish Curriculum on pedagogy and technique may engage boys in dance.
I envisage active involvement in measuring movement may provide alternative avenues to establish research-based dance artists and link with challenge of performance which draw males into sport. Athletic performance can be optimised with an appropriate warm-up (Guidetti et al., 2007; Jones et al., 2003). Within a warm-up, static stretches increase range of movement but decrease force-velocity and length-tension (Nelson, et, al., 2005) and nerve conduction velocity (Cramer et al, 2005) underlying muscle power and performance. Research is divided over the benefit of combined static-dynamic stretching and use sports specific movements to counteract static stretch effects (Morran & Redding,2013). Explanations for research variation include; context, stretch duration and participant fitness. Involving male dancers in measurement of performance will appeal to their competitive nature and problem-solving skills if guided discovery teaching styles are adopted (Fleetham, 2008).
Science is a major contributor to advances in sport training and performance. Progress in dance has concentrated on qualitative research rather than performance aspects of individuals and not been equivalent. A large-scale study using quantitative research methods in cyclical multidisciplinary screening programmes measured parameters associated with quality performance and well-being (Redding & Quested, 2006). Results showed that if appropriately disseminated dance-science methodology could be integrated into dance programmes to empower dancers, direct training and sustain efficient development of a different type of dance student.
My practitioner enquiry is planned to frame the research question and consider the collection of evidence. Increasingly researchers use eclectic approaches based on mixed-methods. I feel this suits my teaching-research context. Qualitative approaches will explore phenomenology and ethinography and quantitative scientific techniques will analyse data on movement hypotheses. Both approaches compliment the same question but validity depends on order and weighting (Patton, 1990).
Qualitative research is promoted by ‘constructivists’ and involves deep analysis of smaller sample sizes (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). I feel qualitative research gains most credibility from idiographic and informed descriptions. In my enquiry, initial research will involve dance observations, questionnaires completed by male/female students, lecturers or dance educators and interviews with 3 practitioners with different warm-up static and dynamic stretch combinations. To benefit from qualitative data, I will identify common themes and contrast male/female responses and context to give meaning to rich personal experiences. I expect interviews will generate more data than questionnaires. This generates ideas to overcome current problems in stakeholders environment but is time-consuming and subjective. Probability sampling is suited to qualitative research where bias is reduced by randomly sampling the cohort. I plan to conduct interviews with stratified sampling based on dance experience. This will enable different sampling approaches to address the research question. Multiple criteria cannot be examined with stratified sampling as participants would fall into multiple groups.
A quantitative ‘positivist’ approach tests objectives by altering one dependent variable and measuring numerical change in an independent variable (Schrag, 1992). I plan to randomly select three groups of 4 male first year BA Modern Ballet students at RCS with BMI 20-22 and age 20-24. Each student will attend four 1 hour trials, involving Teacher-led and Teacher-facilitated warm-up protocols involving 30 second static, dynamic or combined stretches of 4 body parts. The control group participates but do not record partners. Temperature, pulse, balance, peak flow, movement and balance are measured. Video analysis programme ‘Tracker’ will model pathway. Graphics programme ‘PRISM’ will simplify percentage calculations and statistical t-tests when using large participant numbers.
I plan to minimise variability using non-probability sampling to investigate effect of warm-up and teaching styles on a cohort of male dancers. Random sampling reduces bias from self-selection and patterning. Reliability in quantitative human studies is limited by uncontrolled variables (Nagel, 1986). Quantitative data leads to a formal scientific writing style. My conclusions and evaluations will be based on qualitative and quantitative results.
Practitioner enquiry involves collecting or using participant data for continual professional development and positive change. Investigative inquiry requires a pre-planned ethical approach to retain fundamental moral principles and intrinsic balance between investigation and participant confidentiality (Cohen et al, 2004). I believe effective enquiry can follow ethical protocols and form unbiased conclusions without inadvertently suppressing moral dimensions of education (Carr & Kemmis, 2005). I acknowledge unique and fluid educational issues have no simple solution.
Guidelines set out principles and support the aim of ethical research based on the individual, knowledge, values, quality and academic freedom (BERA, 2011). These principles constitute a persuasive argument for ‘voluntary informed consent’ based on clear understanding of research purpose (Baumfield et al. 2013).
Before enquiry, my methods must be approved by RCS Ethics Committee and abide by Child Protection Legislation. I will gain consent from school management, parents, colleagues and students. Gathering data on behaviour and perspectives requires participants to understand the intent and their role in the inquiry (UNICEF, 1989). Their feedback strengthens result validity and forms an important part of the enquiry cycle but, I need to ensure stakeholders’ opinions are not influenced by dissemination or my reflections.
I must disseminate and store findings in a confidential manner that recognises individual contribution but prevents distress through identity disclosure. I will ensure anonymity when referring to individuals or their institution and confidentiality of data collection. Unethical approaches include reduced academic freedom and omitting to state research position, bias or findings (McNiff, 2013). My transcript of responses will be made available to the individual, blog entries will be secured to enquiry members and my final report will be made available to stakeholders. As participants retain the right to withdraw at any stage, my approach must encourage without guiding responses.
Effects of research on stakeholders should be considered in terms of the process and future actions (Burton & Bartett, 2005). I will design warm-up protocols to measure performance indicators without physically exerting individuals. Using random selection and alternate control groups will minimise targeting and educational disruption.
A democratic approach requires all backgrounds to be treated equally. Educational researchers work with parents and young people to gain consent, relay research and ensure contribution (UNICEF, 1989). I feel a feedback loop progresses ethical enquiry throughout data collection, interpretation and reporting without losing objectivity or personal involvement. To encourage sharing of findings, all stakeholders should be credited as co-producers and plagiarism avoided during discussions or writing. Effective educational researchers supplement the values in ethical standards based on personal philosophy, culture and experience (AERA, 2011). Principles of ethical practice are integral to pedagogy, inquiry and dissemination.
I believe practitioner enquiry fosters lifelong professional development by acknowledging practitioners as successful professionals and building on their strengths by encouraging reflection on practice in relation to educational complexities. Practitioner enquiry provides scaffolding for teachers to perform essential roles in leading educational change (Donaldson, 2011). Professional growth and transformation of practice, planning development through experimental and collaborative learning and cognitively challenging assumptions to deepen understanding cultivates a progressive standard of Scottish teaching professionalism.
The concept of teachers as reflective practitioners at the centre of enquiry promotes interconnection between analysis and self-evaluation, professional review/update and positively impacts on school improvement (Donaldson, 2011). Career-long professional learning (CLPL) extends CPD established by McCrone by exercising increased professional autonomy, enabling practitioners to embrace change and meet learners needs (SEED, 2001). Some practitioners find readdressing long-held practices disconcerting along with developing new skills in an overstretched workload. I envisage collaboration will motivate practitioners, sustaining a committed workforce and directing learning and teaching. Practice-based enquiry is modelled on a reflective cycle of analysis-synthesis-dissemination to continuously develop knowledge (Healey & Jenkins, 2000). This philosophy links to four connected elements; reflection, experimental learning, cognitive development and collaboration needed to influence school policies (GTCS, 2016).
My practitioner enquiry has moved successively through Blooms Taxonomy by encouraging skill development in observing, analysing and evaluating (Bloom, 1956). By being curious and looking closely at literature and my practice, I identified teaching styles/strategies needed to nurture in students the enquiry skills which support my professional development.
I explored experimental learning by reflecting on interviews with stakeholders and analysed stretch protocols. This has tested my enquiry questions and explored their implications on my practice. Self-evaluation has enhanced my teaching by refocussing on pedagogy and curriculum issues to benefit Science and Dance students.
The enquiry process has challenged my cognitive development when seeking new ideas and practices. I have investigated questions through critical thinking on relevant issues and verified new evidence and subjectivity of National policies. During enquiry, I used six action tools to stimulate independent thinking to create perceptual frameworks (De Bono, 1985).
My enquiry process has been sculpted by collaboration during workshops and online communications. Constructive feedback from my peers and tutor directed planning. The process enabled me to link my community and school-based dance teaching and lead to unpredicted collaborations and professional dialogue between fitness, dance and science.
Teachers adept at adjusting their practice will overcome systematic problems, generate new questions and gain most satisfaction to enthuse others (Haberman, 2005; Hattie, 2003). Evaluating my enquiry will consider how well experiences have linked my professional learning, the school and national priorities to student learning. This can be achieved by collaboration based on dissemination of my findings.
Professional dissemination provides opportunity to share my enquiry to raise awareness and inform the practice of a wider audience. Passive dissemination of my findings in writing or verbally allows self-evaluation against current literature and analysis of different viewpoints. This strengthens my professional judgement and provides a tangible artefact evoking further learning. Writing forms part of the enquiry cycle (Timperley, 2011). Although the number of enquiry projects increase year after year, without robust methodologies small-scale enquiries have little impact on policy, practice or research (Finfgeld, 2003).
My enquiry aims to combine robust qualitative and quantitative methodologies required by policymakers and dissemination of findings needed to inform stakeholders and enhance dance teaching. Multifactorial dissemination requires researchers to select presentational styles that fit research purposes (Sandelowski, 1998). My aim is to choose the most appropriate communication to displaying my research findings (Saldana 2003); and to suit the intended audience (Nutley et al., 2002; Walter et al., 2003).
I will use visual displays, posters, powerpoints, blogs and videos to raise awareness of dance-science methodologies used in my enquiry and encourage boys to engage in technical aspects of dance. Providing opportunities for staff/students to engage in the experimental aspects of my research and discuss finding should encourage participation and progress research. Peer observation will provide time for colleagues outwith my enquiry to observe and try new strategies. Practitioner feedback can help refine strategies.
Enquiry and evidence-based decision making are key to internal capacity building in schools. Placing practitioner enquiry in the agenda at staff meetings and the school handbook will integrate enquiry into the school culture and raise expectations of teachers and students as researchers.
Participation in CPD conferences can encourage cluster secondary schools to participate in similar research. This will prove powerful in sharing learning/teaching. Gradually involving other institutions, student researchers, parents and local communities can drive forward interlocking circles of enquiry as required by HGIOUS-4 (Education Scotland ,2015a). By collaborating between secondary school and KA Leisure I aim to foster practice-based learning. Together these stages fulfil the model of reflective learning (GTCS, 2016).
I believe sharing practice promotes a common network with educational identity in different contexts and reenergises enthusiasm for learning and teaching by fostering different perspectives. However, scientific rigor can be lost when systematically accumulating knowledge through public analysis (Locke, 2009). The most successful educational systems invest in developing teachers as enquiring professionals who do not simply teach but have capacity to be pivotal in shaping and leading educational change.
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