8.4 Carrying out research

During this stage you get down to the business of analysing and interpreting the meanings of all your primary and secondary source material (documents, reports, newspaper accounts, books and articles), in the ways outlined in the previous sections of this unit. As you do so you will be making notes towards your project report. In this connection, it is very important to write down full references for all the material you use as you read each item. Then you can easily find partic
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7 Beliefs and theories

‘Authorities’ – critics, historians, philosophers and so forth – of course argue from their interpretations of what a work of art, an event or an idea means. And their judgements are based on certain beliefs – about the nature of the objects they study and about what they themselves do as readers and interpreters of them. From our discussion of ‘Meeting at Night’ you have seen what my beliefs are: that people can reach some understanding of a text through the proce
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6.1 Making a convincing case

If you were talking to a friend about a picture hanging on your living-room wall, you might say: ‘I really like that portrait because the man looks so lifelike’. That is, you'd make some kind of judgement about the painting. (I've never heard anyone say ‘I really like that portrait because of that little white brush stroke in the top right-hand corner’.) So, in effect, you turn the process we have just been through on its head. When you are communicating your ideas to other peo
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5.3 A ‘circle’ of understanding

It may seem as if analysing, interpreting and evaluating a text are ‘stages’ we go through, one after the other. But it's nothing like as mechanical as that. You do not analyse a text into separate parts, then ‘add up’ those parts to produce some interpretation of the whole, and then evaluate it. Rather, analysis–interpretation–evaluation are overlapping processes. They are different kinds of activity, as we have seen by looking at them separately. But when you try t
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4.2 Meaning and ‘form’

The question remains, what is this poem ‘about’? Or, rather, we should ask, ‘what kind of poem is it?’ Poems (paintings, ideas, music, buildings, historical documents) are not all ‘one kind of thing’. As we become familiar with poetry we learn to distinguish between different kinds of poem, or between different poetic forms.

Epic poems, for example, are extremely long stories about the doings of a noble warrior, voyager, or similar ‘hero’. Other char
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4.1 Knowledge about context and author

After you had read the poem a few times, you no doubt pieced together that the ‘I’ of line 5 in the first verse, the speaker, is rowing in a boat at night. We probably realise that with the word ‘prow’. By the end of the first verse the boat is beached in a cove. The journey continues over the beach and fields to a farm (by foot, presumably, since we hear about no other means of transport). There the traveller meets someone. It appears that they exchange signals – the tap on the pan
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3.1 Why analyse?

Whatever kind of text you study, one of your main tasks is to try to understand it ‘as it is in itself’. That means analysing it. You have to examine it in detail so that you can see what it is made up of and how it ‘works’.

Just as you read, view or listen to different kinds of text in different ways, so you approach your analysis of them differently. In each case, you ask particular types of question using a specialised analytical language. We have
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2.1 Reading

Before you begin your interrogation of a text, though, you have to get to know it in a general way. In a sense, you can ‘see’ visual texts (such as paintings, sculptures and buildings) all at once; there they are before you. You can move around them, looking at them from different angles. But with written, aural and moving image texts – in which words, sounds or images follow on from one another – you cannot become familiar with the whole thing until
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1.1 Analysis, interpretation and evaluation

When you study a painting, for example, you take it apart to see how it ‘works’ as a painting. You analyse it ‘as it is in itself’, because this gives you many clues to what it might mean. But that analysis is complicated by the fact that the way we understand a painting itself changes over time. For instance, what a religious painting might have meant to the artist and his contemporaries in sixteenth-century Italy cannot be the same as it means to us now. We do n
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2 Relationships

In reality, a message like the one just referred to above is just one of many which forms part of the ongoing relationships we have with the people we work with. How we get on with each other can have a huge impact on the interpretation of a given message, and the subsequent effects that might have on their motivation or morale.

The next idea we will introduce is a framework for assessing how relationships are established and evolve, based on the states of mind of those involved
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1 Communication

The basis of good communication seems very simple, it is speaking or writing clearly such that any message you (the sender) intend to send to someone else (the receiver) is exactly the one which they receive. This means that as well as the detailed content of the message, we have to give some thought to the language we use e.g. ask ourselves if the receiving person might misunderstand any words or phrases we use. We must also be aware of the way we deliver the message –
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9.8 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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9.7.2 Assess the effectiveness of your strategy

When you come to make a final assessment of the effectiveness of your strategy, you need to consider aspects such as how progress was made, the quality of the work, the working relationships of the group members, and how difficulties and problems were addressed. If you have been able to maintain good records from meetings, progress reports, and your own reflective comments, you should be able to look back and be objective about the work and strategy that the group developed. Use the goals you
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9.4 Activity: Developing your strategy for using skills in working with others

Develop a strategy for using skills in working with others over a period of time. Your strategy should include:

  • an identification of the opportunities you can use to practise your skills in working with
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9.3.4 Plan work with others for achieving the quality outcomes required

If you are doing this to complete a project as part of your study, check if the work is going to be assessed, and make sure you know how marks will be allocated and what criteria will be used. Take time to read carefully any instructions you have been given on group work for the activity – ask your tutor for advice if you are unsure about anything, particularly if this is the first time you have been set a group task. Check whether you will be assessed as a group or as individuals. Will the
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9.3.2 Identify what you hope to achieve

It is a good idea to know not only what you are trying to achieve, but also when you have achieved it, so it is important that your goals are clear and that you can easily measure your progress against them. Setting realistic targets, planning actions and modifying those plans in the light of experience are all part of developing this key skill, but this time they need to be done and negotiated within the group.

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9.3.1 Establish opportunities for using skills in working with others

You need to identify activities that will provide you with opportunities for working with others over a period of 3 months or so. This could involve both one-to-one and group situations, such as working on a particular project at work, a group project as part of your course or e-conferencing on a group assignment.

Time out


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8.7 Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

This stage of the framework focuses on identifying what you have achieved and how well you have achieved it. It involves you in evaluating your strategy and presenting the outcomes of your work. As you evaluate and assess your strategy, identify aspects of your problem-solving skills that you want to develop further. At the end of this stage, use the records in your Skills File to complete the activity ‘Evaluating your problem-solving strategy and presenting outcomes’ and pull together th
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8.5.1 Generate a variety of ways of tackling problems

Where the best way, or, indeed, any way, of tackling a problem is not obvious, there are a number of tools and techniques which can be useful to stimulate ideas and different ways of thinking:

  • reasoning: reaching conclusions or deciding on paths of action by means-end analysis or critical-path analysis;

  • matching: recognising similarities with other situations, drawing analogies, adapting solutions that have worked or s
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