Walking the moderating talk
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." And attending AQR's mod skills course is guaranteed to underline that difference.
Since deciding to make the leap away from excel to the world of qual, Ive been trying to be as sponge-like as possible, absorbing as much as I can from my quallie colleagues. But as I found myself continuing to watch in awe as they calmly get groups of strangers to discuss their lives with one another, I thought a bit of training from the AQR might be just the ticket to build my confidence.
While I turned up on the day slightly unsure of what to expect — and perhaps slightly sceptical towards the idea that moderating skills can be taught rather than acquired through experience — by the end of day two I was stunned by how much we had covered. Not only did the course cover a huge amount of theory on the psychology of group dynamics, and more practical tips, we also had the opportunity to moderate ourselves and get play-by-play feedback.
As painful as it may sound to watch a video of yourself and analyse your moderating performance with a room of people you barely know — I cant emphasise enough how useful it was. Not only does it give you the opportunity to get group feedback on every part of your performance, you also get to watch other inexperienced researchers moderate which was very reassuring.
To top it off, Ruth and Emilys kindness and enthusiasm, combined with such an interesting mix of fellow attendees, made for an incredibly fun and supportive atmosphere. It was great to see that everyone has those nerves at first, irrespective of age or where you come from (we were joined by employees from research agencies, strategy and media agencies, clients, and even a couple of research executives whod come from Ghana).
I would highly recommend this course to anyone with minimal experience who is expected to moderate groups — it is a fantastic environment in which to both learn the essential theory, and get that essential practice.
Research Executive, Razor Research Ltd
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, May 2017
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2017