Use of Audio Recordings

Posted on  by mjwright

There are few studies to be found doing survey work in precisely the way we are planning, particularly the use of a phone booth appears not to be found anywhere in the literature. When discussions of audio recording comes up, it mostly in contexts related to ethnography and interviews. “What are the ethical considerations of recording a subject for an interview?” is a needed conversation to be had, but not really the same as having our participants respond to the single prompt we give them in this study. However, using Audio Diaries for research has a lot of overlap methodologically with our approach. In studies using audio diaries, subjects are instructed to verbalize reflections that would usually take on a written format typically. We essentially are requesting students to do one audio diary focused on the topic of engagement and desirability.

In the report “Methodological considerations in the use of audio diaries in work psychology: Adding to the qualitative toolkit” (2016), the method of audio diaries is discussed at length and critiqued. This study intended to understand the benefits and problems of using audio diaries as a way of documenting workplace stress and the affective experience of such. This is not entirely related to our study, as students’ affective experiences within the institution are our key concern!

What the researchers found is that participants generally preferred taking audio diaries compared to writing, with less feeling of need for editing and change what they spoke. Researchers felt that there was more accuracy in the audio diaries, as due to the decreased cognitive processing compared to writing. Responses and feelings are spoken as they come about in someones mind and thus recordings had less structure but more depth in the kind of reflection that was had. This is very appealing to us, as we want to hear student’s feelings and experiences as they are, distilled through as few existing narratives of student experience as possible. By having them respond in this way, we may be able to access that. Additionally, there is an arts-based connection to this methodology, turning what could be just a written respond into a conversational performance. There is a participatory and empowering nature to the way it feels to take ownership over ones experiences through speaking of them and performing them. This combines both, and will hopefully lead to catharsis for some students.

However, something else researchers found was that participants usually felt uncomfortable during the first few sessions, and the feeling of talking to no one was strange and detached. Participants also really felt it necessary to be in a private space as it was uncomfortable to record when someone could enter at anytime. We have set up our study to restrict as many of these concerns as possible, creating a private space that will feel more conversational within the phone booth and still allowing students the option of writing their answer if responding through the phone feels too intimidating. In this way we hope to combat any uncomfortableness that could be felt by students and create a space of dialogue and revelation on campus during our study.

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