Let's meet more often
A refreshing mix of "Old Hands" and "New Faces" met for the second event organised specifically for independent qualitative practitioners. You can recognise us a mile-off: relaxed style but taking the mobile office to extremes one attendee even responded to their phone and was heard, very professionally, offering a job cost from the cubicle of the loo.
The independents present reported that they genuinely appreciate an opportunity to meet others in the same situation, to discuss its highs and lows. It¹s good to know that September was quiet for the qualitative industry as a whole not just for those attending but that now business is frantic with the Christmas rush.
The event organisers had thoughtfully organised a guest speaker in the form of the multi-talented Joanna Chrzanowska, who discussed the topic "Reconstructing the Past new research on memory and its implications for qualitative research" . Joanna ran us through around a dozen key memory effects that operate in an interview situation. Personally, I found it extremely useful to be advised how any moderator can take these into account in planning the discussion guide, the stimulus, or by taking research out into the environment, in order to access different types and levels of memory.
To ensure an attentive audience Joanna set a task to commit about 30 words to memory at the start of her talk, then to recall them on paper at the end.. The twist was that some were asked to apply basic "rote learning" while the rest could adopt any strategy they saw fit. Despite some body language expressing reluctance at being asked to think during what was planned as a few hours rest and relaxation, attendees entered into the spirit of the occasion and proved many of the points that Joanna had made. For example, the Primacy and Recency effect that people remember things better at the beginning and the end (of the word list in this case) was especially noticeable for Rote Learners; while those creating stories or rhymes had more even recall across the list.
The lunch was an inspiring blend of thought provocation and social networking. I¹m sure others would share my view it should be annual not (almost) biannual.
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, February 2002
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2002