Learning Circle Reflections - December 2016


The session on Informant Groups, held on 13th December, was run by Paola Pedrelli.

The December instalment of 'Learning Circle Reflections' comes from Aline Cole-Albäck.

"At tonight’s Learning Circle, Paola introduced her research on Leadership Styles in Children's Centres and the role of an ‘Informant Group’ in the research process. To give a bit of context, Paola is looking at how the complexity of leadership life is navigated by leaders of Children’s Centres. All data has been collected and is now being analysed using 5 elements: 

1.Leadership styles
2.Emotional intelligence
3.Professional heritage
4.Leadership tasks and issues
5.Wider context issues

The concept of a prism or the ‘crystallization’ metaphor was mentioned as a way of analysing the data, as each of the above five elements bring out different aspects or facets of leadership. The central concept is that of a crystal with multiple faces reflecting and refracting different realities or points of view. For more information on crystallization see work by Laurel Richardson L. (2009) or Laura Ellingson (2009). Tony suggested that this could in effect be seen as a form of 'triangulation of analysis', or what Laurie (2011) calls ‘triangulation of data analysis techniques’ (see Papers on Social Representations, 20, pp. 34.1-34.15).

Integral to Paola’s research is its trustworthiness. To strengthen trustworthiness, Paola set up an ‘Informant Group’ in the summer of 2016. She invited six adults with experience working in the early years to be part of this group. Three participants are ‘insiders’; adults who have been involved in her PhD study prior to this point in time, and three participants are 'outsiders'; professionals who were not previously part of the research. The reason for using insiders and outsiders was to get different interpretations, different feedback loops, to further strengthen trustworthiness.

 It was acknowledged that our narratives in qualitative research can be very subjective, so building in an informant group in the research design can strengthen trustworthiness. Andrew K. Shenton’s (2004) work on trustworthiness was referred to (see Education for Information, 22(2), pp.63-75).

Apart from strengthening trustworthiness through triangulation, the informant group was also set up for peer support, to help develop thinking and help develop what Paola calls the ‘paperwork’ or framework for analysis. Paola said that the positive experience and dialogue with the informant group has led her to consider using this form of conversation throughout the rest of the research process.
When all the data has been analysed, the research will be presented in the form of four ‘portraits’, narratives of four chosen Children’s Centre leaders."


The next Learning Circle meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 17th January and will focus on Data Analysis.

The Learning Circle meetings are open to all with an interest in early childhood studies.

You can also request to join the Learning Circle Group on Facebook.


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