Summer School on Doing and Communicating Qualitative Research

Mid July, Diane Golay and Christiane Grünloh attended the summer school on “Doing and Communicating Qualitative Research” at Kingston University in London. This summer school has been offered already before and the main organisers are Evanthia Lyons and Adrian Coyle, authors of Analysing Qualitative Data in Psychology (Sage).

The summer school offered various workshops per day, from which the participants could choose. The workshops attended by Diane (DG) and Christiane (CG) were:

  • Principles and Practicalities of Qualitative Research (DG)
  • Doing Thematic Analysis (DG)
  • Doing Interpreative Phenomenological Analysis (CG)
  • Doing Narrative Analysis (CG)
  • Qualitative Interviewing: Individual Interviews – Focus Groups and Beyond (DG & CG)
  • Keys to Publication: Writing Qualitative Research (DG & CG)

The participants were quite active on Twitter during the week, using the hashtag #KUQRSS (Kingston University Qualitative Research Summer School).

Keynotes

Celia Kitzinger gave an inspiring keynote on “Making a difference with qualitative research”. Her current focus is on “exploring the cultural, ethical, legal and social dimensions of coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state”, which you can learn more about on their website.

Reflecting on research and the “impact” we want it to have, one might wonder: How do you make a difference when you only have a small sample? Celia shared an example from her research, which was really powerful. They had interviewed relatives from patients in a vegative / minimally conscious state. Afterwards they gave them postcards, on which the interviewees could share something that they wanted the doctors and lawmakers to know. These postcards were then later made into an exhibition that doctors and lawmakers attended. Pictures from, for example, one doctor reading the postcards in that exhibition were then shown to the relatives. For these relatives, it made a big difference that the doctors had read their postcards. This showed us that with relatively low-key and simple tools, it is possible to make an impact – make people’s voices heard and establish a communication between groups of people that otherwise do not come into contact with each other (like for example in that case, lawmakers and patients’ relatives). Inspiring!

Celia had scheduled some tweets that were published on Twitter during her keynote, for instance this one:

Dariusz Galasiński gave a keynote on “Qualitative discourse analysis and psychology: Extending the possibilities”. As a linguist he shared interesting experiences, for instance, from an study on questionnaires. They used the “Think aloud” method while participants completed a questionnaire, because they were interested in how people interact / cope with questionnaires, their construction of their choice, and what did people say about the choice they were making. This was really interesting, as some of the questionnaires put a number to an emotion. He gave “despair” as an example and that you cannot have “little” despair, because being despaired is always “big”. A participant said, that he felt not despaired, but a little bit weak, so “let’s put a little 2”.

He also presented some very interesting findings from his research on men’s suicide notes, which led him (with some help from his daughter) to define the concept of “long suicide”. (He made this research into a book, which was recently published.)

Workshops

The workshops proved to be extremely helpful and relevant for our research. They provided theoretical background which we could then apply in hands-on exercises. We got many practical advice during the week, which are also relevant for experienced researchers. For example, in the workshop on IPA (Interpreative Phenomenological Analysis), it was recommended to conduct the first 2-3 interviews, transcribe them and then have a supervision and discussion with someone. The supervision focuses then on questions like: Do they really talk about things that you want them to talk about? It was also said that sometimes you notice small things; for example that you ask a lot of closed questions. The lecturer was then asked, if this supervision is also needed if the researchers is very experienced. Yes indeed, as it is unlikely that they have worked with these population group or asked these interview questions before.

The hands-on workshop on interviewing, already mentioned in a previous post, was definitely a highlight. It covered all the most significant aspects of designing an interview schedule and actually conducting an interview. At some point during this second phase, Diane was given the opportunity to put herself in the shoes of the interviewer for a while, and received valuable feedback on how to improve her interviewing skills. A very instructive experience!

Consultation Clinics

Every day, we had the opportunity to attend a consultation clinic – an hour of discussion in a small group with an experienced qualitative research, during which we could ask questions related to our own projects. This was an excellent opportunity for us to get expert advice on our current and even future research endeavours. Getting a fresh perspective on our projects, from people who did not belong to the same field as we did, was extremely interesting. It led to very constructive and creative discussions – so much so that the time always seemed too short, even after a whole day of active mental work!

We found the consultation clinics so helpful that we made use of them even on days where we did not have a particular question ourselves, because it was very valuable for us to get the opportunity to learn from the projects of others and the recommendations they received.

Visit at Hampton Court

On the last day, we visited Hampton Court Palace, which you can see on the picture accompanying this post. We were a surprisingly small group visiting, but we very much enjoyed both the visit and the company!

We wholeheartly thank the organisers – especially Prof. Adrian Coyle – for this fantastic week and highly recommend this summer school to everyone interested in qualitative research!

“The digital development has changed the core of working life” according to professor Bengt Sandblad

Our work environment is more and more digitalized. Many of us use a large number of IT systems in our work every day. Dysfunctional computer system becomes a work environment problem.

Professor Bengt Sandblad from the HTO group has done a report for the work environment authority in Sweden, He is also working on a book and he is also working on a book on the digital work environment. The book will appear around Christmas.

This week Bengt Sandblad is interviewed in Universen and some of the key ideas in the article are:

  • The potential benefits of IT systems is often lost due to usability problems.
  • The digital development will not to slow down. On the contrary:  it will move faster and faster.
  • Often IT systems are not adapted to the needs of people, or the organization.
  • Information overload is a crucial problem.
  • We need to design systems that are made for human cognition.
  • We have a tendency to build systems based on what computers are good at. Not what people are good at.
  • There is a risk that work is what is left when the computers have done what they aren’t good at doing.

For more information read the full article 🙂 

 

 

Singing Mice doing the Digital Transformation

Romantic mice actually do sing. This was but one message from the conference Gilla jobbet (“Enjoy Work”). The event is a joint venture including a number of central actors on the Swedish labour market, who focus on workers’ health and safety. The conference itself had four major tracks: health promotion, the digital work environment, assessment and retention. If you missed it, it will go on tour in spring 2018. (Edit: some seminars were video recorded and you can watch them here.)

One presentation in the health promotion track–by Frida Fossland and Sara Leijonqvist–related to work life balance. Frida Fossland’s message was that we need to be observant of the more subtle aspects of flexible work. Sure, hyper connectivity 24/7 can be a striking aspect, but flexible work also creates tensions between employer and employee that needs to be taken care of–as traditional modes of management by walking around no longer apply. To support this, Prevent (a Swedish health promoting agency) has developed Balansguiden (“The Work Life Balance Guide”). This is an online tool supporting both the employer and the employee with the ultimate goal of facilitating discussions in the workplace relating to policies and strategies for flexible work. It is quite an impressive product and it actually was awarded first prize at the International Media Festival for Prevention in 2017.

One of the main sessions was a joint presentation on the topic of digitalization and the work environment. Sweden’s digitalization champion Jan Gulliksen introduced the topic with an emphasis on the societal aspects of the digital transformation, though with many examples from everyday work. He also promoted a book on the subject that will be released just before Christmas, a book where our colleague Bengt  Sandblad is one of the co-authors.

This was followed by a presentation by Jonas Söderström, Sweden’s usability guru. He is the author of the book Jävla Skitsystem (Stupid **** system!) and is a key figure in establishing public awareness around the topic. He did a great presentation and the figures really brought home the message. Finally, Anna Pramborg from Sunt Arbetsliv ended the session with a preview of a new framework–aimed at municipalities and counties–also related to improving the digital work environment.

The main event at this session was nevertheless the presentation by Fredrik Beskow of the new online tool Inför rätt IT (“Do IT right”) from Prevent, aimed at supporting organisations during digital transformation. This tool in many ways represents Swedish state of the art in this respect, as the team behind it included among others aforementioned Jonas Söderström as well as our own Bengt Sandblad. Fredrik Beskow did stress that this was the first version and that the team were hoping to get lots of  feedback so that the tool could be developed furher.

The day ended with a brilliant piece of entertainment. Stand up comedian Måns Möller and stress researcher Dan Hansson (an Uppsala University alumni) successfully combined humor and science in their show Öka livet! (“More life!”). And yes, it was in this show that the singing mice were introduced. It turns out that mice actually court by singing and we got the opportunity to listen to a smal serenade.

All in all not a bad day at work

“For a Healthy Digital Work Environment”

NIVA provides “Advanced Education in Occupational Health” and Gerolf Nauwerck and Åsa Cajander from the HTO group were lecturers in one of their courses last week.

Digitization and the transformation of society and work

Many of the problems related to digitalization and work were discussed during the first day of the NIVA course. We will only present some of the highlights of the course in this short blog post.

Jan Gulliksen presented how society has transformed by digitalization, and he gave examples from different areas such as school and health care. The school setting with a teacher standing in front of a class that listens has not changed in many years, Jan Gulliksen described, and perhaps it about time it changed?

There was a vivid discussion related to what jobs will disappear due to digitalization. According to a study the most likely job what will disappear in the future is being a model. In fact we already improve photos so much that soon we will not need the human model any more in the future. One of the jobs that will not disappear is being a “Beach Body Coach”, so if you are thinking of a possible future career that is a good option 😉

Cognition in the digital environment

Day two started with Sara Thomé who presented the area cognition in the digital work environment. Some of the problems areas that follow with digitalization are:

  • Information overflow
  • Communication overload
  • Flexible and boundless work
  • Usability problems
  • Technostress  

Flexible work

Christin Mellner was invited to the NIVA course to talk about the challenge of flexible work and boundary management. She gave an interesting talk on the perception of people’s different behaviour when it comes to setting boundaries between work and private life. If you choose to not answer emails out of work hours, or participate in social media outside of work you are seen as a professional and reliable person. However, some would also see you as rigid and non-flexible. If you choose to answer emails etc outside of working hours you are seen as very flexible and adaptable, but at the same time you risk being exhausted and being perceived as always being in a hurry.  

By the end of day two Åsa Cajander gave a lecture presenting our work with creating a good work environment in the collaboration programme with Region Uppsala and also with the university administration.

Gerolf Nauwerck gave a lecture presenting the different charting tools available on the market today. We were allowed to try a few questions in one of the tools, and also discuss the problems with the questions asked. This was a very appreciated lecture, and we all learned a lot.  

Visit to the DISA Project

Vivian Vimarlund who is a full professor in Informatics at Linköping University is one of the senior research advisors of the DISA project. Last week she visited us, and we went through the plans ahead for the DISA project. She asked many good questions related to for example publication strategy and theoretical framework. Based on her long experience as a researcher in informatics she also gave us advice on how to proceed with our work, and some ideas on follow up projects for this work.

We are really grateful for this outsider’s perspective on our work in DISA and we got good input for our current and planned activities as well as inspiration to continue the work ahead.

We will have a DISA conference again this fall, and then we’ll have a chance to discuss things with Vivian Vimarlund and the other members of our reference group.

IT and Society class: first try at a crash course in interviewing

Since the beginning of the term, I have been involved in a class called “IT and Society” as a teaching assistant. The class is the product of a collaboration between Åsa Cajander and Mats Daniels at Uppsala University and Cary Laxer at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the United States (IN). It differs significantly from other courses at Uppsala University in that it revolves around a real-life issue provided by an external client (the EPJ department in Uppsala County) and, maybe most importantly, gives the lead to the students. (I invite you to check out this post by Åsa if you are interested in knowing more about what makes the course special. Mats Daniels has also been blogging about the class – you can find his latest post on the subject here.) Those are indeed expected to work together in an autonomous fashion throughout the whole course, from deciding on how to structure the project and distribute the work among them to delivering a formal project report to the client. The role of the teachers and mine as a teaching assistant is thus first and foremost to provide students with the means to work in such an autonomous way and offer them some guidance and support when and where they need it.

This year’s class is dedicated to investigating different aspects related to the tracking of people and equipment within and outside of the hospital, and is expected to result in a systems definition report. Next week, the students studying in Uppsala will be given the opportunity to go and interview different healthcare professionals at the University Hospital in Uppsala in order to gather additional information on the topic, as they now have been working on the project for several weeks. As a way to help them in tackling the challenge of conducting successful interviews, it was decided at the beginning of the course that I would hold a two-hour crash course in interviewing for the Uppsala students. Last Wednesday, the D-day had arrived.

As I attended an excellent daylong workshop on qualitative interviewing during a Summer school at Kingston University earlier this year, I decided to try and emulate some of this workshop’s activities with my students. I thus had them create a short interview schedule (about a fictional topic) and conduct a live interviewing experiment. Ida (Löscher, a fellow HTO group member) kindly accepted to come by and play the role of the interviewee, while one of the students volunteered to be the interviewer, and another slid into the shoes of the note-taker. The remaining students and I settled into the role of the observer. Once the mock interview was terminated by the interviewer, I asked both interviewee and interviewer to share their experience with the group: how did they think it had gone? How had they felt? What did they think was good, and what did they think could be improved? This opened a short debriefing session during which each participant came to word – either to make comment or to ask a question. I then wrapped up the course talking briefly about the analysis and reporting of interviews, a topic Åsa had wished for me to take up with the students.

It is of course hard to say whether this small crash course will be effective in helping students making the most of the interview opportunities they have been provided with (especially since everything did not go as smootly as I hoped…). However, I strongly believe that experiencing and reflecting on a real-life interview, even staged, can be very helpful in order to understand what interviewing is all about – what makes it so challenging, and what tips and tricks can help. In any case, I hope that the students have appreciated the experience and will enjoy conducting their upcoming interviews.

INTERACT 2017 in Mumbai – Part 2

As I wrote in the previous post, I recently had the opportunity to attend and present at INTERACT which took place in Mumbai, India. In this post, I write about two posters & demos. The Poster and demos sessions took place in every coffee / tea break during the whole conference, giving the attendees plenty of opportunitities to visit the individiual demo booths.

HeartHab

Supraja Sankaram presenting her HeartHab application

Supraja Sankaran (Hasselt University, Belgium) demonstrated a tool to personalize e-coaching based on individual patient risk factors, adherence rates and personal preferences of patients using a tele-rehabilitation solution. In their abstract, she and her co-authors Mieke Haesen, Paul Dendale, Kris Luyten and Karin Coninx describe, that they

developed the tool after conducting a workshop and multiple brainstorms with various caregivers involved in coaching cardiac patients to connect their perspectives with patient needs. It was integrated into a comprehensive tele-rehabilitation application.

Supraja was one of the participants in our EIT Health / ACM SIGCHI eHealth summer school (see here, or here), so it was really nice meeting her again at the conference. Supraja was born in India, and she went out of her way helping us Non-Indians, for instance explaining the food or local practices to me. It was really fun!

Mind the Gap

Another extremely interesting demo was the game “Mind the Gap – A Playful Take on Gender Imbalance in ICT” by Max Willis and Antonella De Angeli (University of Trento). I had met Antonella already on Monday during the field trip and she introduced me to Max (her PhD student) during lunch. Thus, we already talked briefly about the game and I couldn’t wait to play it. They outlined the aim on their poster:

Mind the Gap is a provocative, playful intervention and a research tool that illuminates players’ attitudes and experiences concerning gender privilege and discrimination in ICT. It initiates a structured social interaction around gender issues driven by role-play and participant authored texts.

The gameboard charts a typical technology carreer path. Female Player Characters (PC’s) roll a 4-sided die, male PC’s roll a 6-sided die. Players advance and draw a ‘privilege’ card describing a scenario which is scored to reflect a penalty or an advanage according to the gender of the PC.

During the game, players an author their own privilege cards, add decisions, or create new rules and add them to the game.

Playing this game was really fascinating, but also reading the cards authored by previous players. It didn’t take long for me to pick the card which you see in the picture below: “Congrats! You will have a baby!” As my character was female like me (the character is drawn at the beginning of the game), I had to leave the career path and go on the family path.

“Mind the Gap”  by Max Willis and Antonella De Angeli

Later I drew the card “Change gender to female, if you are men”. Too bad – I might have wanted my character to change to male in that case 🙂 The game drew a lot of attention and it was really interesting. I am really looking forward to reading more about their findings in the future. For more information, visit their project website.

At the end of the conference, the organisers showed us the following clip they put together, which I think is really nice: