THE SPIRIT OF WONDER

Community connections through storytelling; sharing of self-reflection, and personal narrative.

 

Email: drsls@bu.edu ​​

 

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Spirit of Wonder Small Research Team Protocol

The Spirit of Wonder; A Storytelling Project

 

Project Duration: Year Long, Fall Semester, or Spring Semester

 

Overview: The Spirit of Wonder project seeks to collect, analyze, and share individual life narratives to foster relationships with and among communities and different cultures, to support connectivity and to develop community engagement.

 

Storytelling is one of our oldest modes of communication. It connects communities, passes on knowledge, and brings people closer together. In modern scientific research, storytelling has been proven to cure trauma, resolve conflicts, improve self-understanding, and raise self-esteem. Stories connect, inspire, motivate, and move people to action. The Spirit of Wonder seeks to revive storytelling for all of these purposes and to popularize this approach of people connecting with themselves, each other, and their communities.

 

The Spirit of Wonder is a comparative cross-cultural study which examines the developmental trajectories of people in different countries. It seeks to identify the ways that people understand and act on the internal and external factors which influence them and their communities. Seeing each story as a true journey, and listening without assumptions can lead to surprises beyond our expectations. Beyond the project goals and interview protocols that enable academic research and anthropological study, Spirit of Wonder seeks to foster relationships and make earnest human connection possible through storytelling.

 

Preferred Skills  

 

  • Collaboration and the ability to work with diverse groups of people (ages, background, roles)

  • Reading and understanding academic research in social sciences

  • Analyzing documents for patterns

  • Ability to break down big tasks into small actionable steps

  • Awareness of own interests, culture and passions

  • Creativity and curiosity about others

 

Deliverables: In this section, you will find two things: A) a description of the final deliverables required by this project and B) the roles and tasks which will help you accomplish these deliverables.

 

A - The Final Deliverables of the Project

 

Audio/Video/Transcription of Interviews: This is a storytelling qualitative-data analysis project. The stories you collect either as videos, audios, or written narrative are your data. You will need to clean, organize and compile this data to present it as a final deliverable. The preferred data format are videos with complementary transcriptions.

 

Report:  The final report should be a qualitative analysis of the findings using standard methods outlined below.  An analysis of the findings should include insights within and between cultures including:

  • What are the common developmental challenges that arise as interviewees choose and pursue their personal life goals and professional aspirations?

  • What differences occur between cultures represented in your study?

  • What impact does the economic and political environment have on the design and accomplishment of life goals?

  • How have the respondents’ experiences influenced their life journeys and how have those experiences affected personal growth and/or change in their community?

 

See Self-Authorship and Adult Development materials on Page 20 in the Library of Resources.

See Guidelines for qualitative research papers on Page 20 in the Library of Resources.

 

Process/Protocol Recommendations: The purpose of this project is to:

  • Gather a small sample of recorded interviews

  • Test out a protocol for a larger-scale storytelling research project,

  • Practice using recorded material for comparative analysis of interviews.

 

Your insights will be incorporated into the next phase of the project. Your job is to pay attention to the insights, processes and the workflow which you used to execute this project. The best way to approach this task is to take notes reflecting on your steps. After completing the project, you’ll be asked to assess, analyse, and propose improvements for the next iteration of project design.

 

B - Project Roles and Tasks

 

Therese are 6 roles required to complete this project. They are synthesized below and fully described in greater details in this section.

 

Summary of the 6 roles on the project team:

 

  • Project Coordinator: oversees the execution of the project

  • Community Outreach and Communications Officer: connects with interviewees

  • Interviewer: collects interviews of participants

  • Data Manager: compiles interview materials in one place

  • Research Analyst: researches, reads, analyses interviews

  • Literature Review Agent: reads relevant studies and literature, informs the team

 

The roles are described in greater detail below. In general, roles provide each team member with a list of responsibilities s/he oversees. This does not mean that each owner of a role must take on all the role-related tasks. This does mean that each owner of a specific role ensures the completion of the role-related tasks. The roles are highly inter-dependent and require a high level of collaboration, self-management, and communication. Please see the roles and tasks below:

 

All team members: Review project documentation (description, roles, literature review, background research)

 

Project Coordinator

  1. Organize the team to identify who will take on which role (or roles)

  2. Understand all tasks required for project completion

  3. Ensure the team’s understanding of project themes, goals, and objectives

  4. Pick a target population(s) and topics (ex. unemployed youth, last year university students, or a specific geographic location (two neighbourhoods close to your university) and study its population and the themes which surface.

  5. Outline interview logistics and timeframes (time, duration, location, format etc. storing and organizing materials)

  6. Compose an introduction letter/script and release forms

  7. Support all team members by helping the group achieve goals and resolve challenges

  8. Ensure completion of all tasks which lead up to final deliverables

  9. Coordinate the teamwork around writing the deliverables:

    • Write a report on the findings and propose methods for displaying raw data, i.e. interviews or a website.

    • Debrief about the procedures which you used to execute the project

    • Document recommendations for future project implementation

 

Community Outreach and Communications (Reach out to target population to schedule interviews)

  1. Identify “hubs” where target populations live, gathers, works etc. (churches, community centers, adult education centres, libraries etc.)

  2. Pick 15-20 people you want to talk to

  3. Invite them to participate by phone or email

  4. Share the vision of the project and their role in it

  5. Brief on what to expect (time, duration, location, format etc. storing and organizing materials) Ask for a release form to be signed.

  6. Confirm their participation and schedule a time to interview them

  7. Inform the interviewer and introduce the interviewer with the interviewee (by phone or email)

 

Interviewers: (Conduct interviews)

  1. Meet the interviewee at the set time and location

  2. Introduce yourself and the project

  3. Ensure that release form is signed

  4. Remind participants of expectation

  5. Conduct the interview using the interview protocol:  See strategies for Conducting qualitative research here: https://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/files/sociology/files/interview_strategies.pdf

  6. Ensure you recorded (preferably by video) and saved all materials

  7. Be aware of time and the person’s schedule

  8. Allow for time for follow up questions

  9. Thank the participant before and after the interview

  10. Organize, clean, transcribe, translate etc. data and field notes

  11. Look for expected and unexpected patterns and themes (see table “Point 11: Expected and Unexpected Patterns” below*)

  12. Submit summary and the materials (interview file: video, audio, writing, release form, notes and reflection)  you gathered to the data manager.

 

Point 11: Expected and Unexpected Patterns*

 

Expected patterns/themes: Capture the narrative of the interviewee’s life journey with the rising and falling of moments of inspiration, desperation, and aspiration. Internal and external factors that help or hinder the person from achieving their goal.

 

Unexpected Patterns/Themes: Monitor other themes and unexpected topics that surface across interviews relating to moments of inspiration, desperation, and aspiration.

Internal and external factors that help or hinder the person from achieving their goal.

 

  • Aspirations and sources of inspiration

  • Challenges (internal and external)

  • Approaches to overcoming challenges

  • Cultural influence for life goals: the meaning of the goal to you, your family and your community.

 

Data Manager:

  1. Communicate with Interviewers to understand their findings from the interview.

  2. Collect organized, cleaned transcribed, translated etc. data, the release form, and notes

  3. Ensure all data is well organized and clearly labelled and sorted

  4. Read through the compilation of data to ensure that it is complete

 

Research Analyst:

Identify and Analyse patterns which you’re seeing (ex. All storytellers mention “X” in their interviews. Many storytellers have a problem with “Y.”  2 of 15 storytellers said Z is…etc. )

 

Step 1 Expected Patterns/Themes: Capture the narrative of the interviewee’s life journey with the rising and falling of moments of inspiration, desperation, and aspiration.

  • Aspirations and sources of inspiration

  • Challenges (internal and external)

  • Approaches to overcoming challenges

  • Cultural influence for life goals: the meaning of the goal to you, your family and your community.

 

Unexpected Patterns/Themes: Monitor other themes and unexpected topics that surface across interviews relating to moments of inspiration, desperation, and aspiration.

  • What do you notice?

  • Keep broad themes that surface in each interview.

  • Do patterns emerge across interviews?

  • Synthesize your learnings (about interviews)

 

Literature Review Agent:

1. Understand Literature Review Process - “How To” Resources:

See Guidelines for conducting a literature Review http://library.bu.edu/c.php?g=708805&p=5043942

https://guides.library.harvard.edu/literaturereview

 

 

2. Compile a “digested” body of literature relating to:

See Self-Authorship and Adult Development materials on Page 20 in the Library of Resources.

See Guidelines for qualitative research papers on Page 20 in the Library of Resources.

  • Conduct qualitative interviews (ex. Best practices of talking to interviewees to create a specific comfortable atmosphere for interviews etc.)

Strategies for Conducting qualitative research here: https://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/files/sociology/files/interview_strategies.pdf

  • Conducting of qualitative research analysis (ex. Best practices on coding qualitative data

See Guidelines for Qualitative Papers  https://www.journals.elsevier.com/social-science-and-medicine/policies/guidelines-for-qualitative-papers

 

3. Communicate findings to all team members - ensure all team members are clear about the underlying theories of the project and approaches to collecting and analysing data.

 

4. From gathered data, crosscheck patterns with literature (ex. Literature says that people in this age group experience X commonly)

 

5. Review relevant literature on key concepts and related theories related to expected and unexpected patterns

 

6. Research the literature regarding specific topics/themes that arise in the interviews

 

 

Metrics of success for the whole team

 

Your insights will be incorporated into the next phase of the project. Your job is to pay attention to the insights, processes and the workflow which you used to execute this project. The best way to approach this task is to take notes reflecting on your steps. After completing the project, you’ll be asked to assess, analyse, and propose improvements for the next iteration of project design.

 

  1. Gather a small sample of recorded interviews

    • Interviews assembled in an organized database with transcription

    • Analyses by one or more teams looking at within and between group comparisons of findings

  2. Test out a protocol for a larger-scale storytelling research project,

  3. Practice using recorded material for comparative analysis of interviews.