Writivity Essentials #2: Researching for the Reflective Journal (Pt 2)

Part Two – Applying the Simple Research Process to the Reflective Journal

In Part One, we offered a simple definition for the term ‘research’ and outlined an approach to the Simple Research Process. At the end of Part Two, you should be able to use the Simple Research Process to gather, organize and assess the information you have accessed for your Reflective Journal. In preparation for this, we advise you (student) to do the following:  

  • Read through and familiarize yourself with the list of headings or sections for the Reflective Journal, outlined in the CXC Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate Visual Arts Syllabus.
  • Make notes on a sheet of paper or notebook listing the main pieces of information which you believe are necessary to complete each heading or section. 
  • Share the list you have made with your teacher and discuss with him or her if there is any information you need to add or remove.

If you have done that, we can get started!

STEP 1 – Develop Research Questions

Following the discussion with your teacher, write down each of the following words:

  • Theme
  • Technique
  • Artist
  • Works of Art

Under each word, write a list of questions to be answered and/or problems which may need to be solved, in order to generate the information that will be needed to complete each section/chapter of the reflective journal. Please see the examples below, using the words ‘Theme’ and ‘Artist’:

STEP 2 – List Information Sources

With your research question(s) and problem statement(s) listed, your next action is to list your sources of information. These will help you to answer the research question(s) or solve the problem statement(s) you had listed earlier. Sources of information can be a resource person, an organization, a publication (eg. Book or magazine) and online sources. Please note that all sources of information can be placed under the categorical headings such as Organization, Publication, Resource Person and Online Source. See example below:

STEP 3 – Share the Information you have gathered with your Teacher

Once you have listed who you need to interview, which institution you need to visit, which books you need to read and so on, make sure to share all of that information with your teacher. This is important as your teacher’s feedback will more than likely contain advice that will be helpful to you. This can guide you in identifying sources you may have overlooked as well as the over or under-use of information sources you have found. You should also take the opportunity to talk with your teacher about the potential execution and completion dates which need to be set for engaging with each source that is. You can find a general list of online sources of information for Jamaican visual arts here

From the discussions with your teacher, you would begin to realise that some of your listed sources may be more important than others. However it is not until you reach this third step that you are able to confirm which sources are most useful versus those which are only slightly useful. The reason such a decision can be made at this point is because at step 2 you were just listing, and speculating about sources, but at step 3 you begin to use and access sources to collect information.

STEP 4 – Using and Accessing Information Sources

This means that you will be doing specific tasks such as:

  • Taking notes
  • Conducting interviews
  • Visiting and viewing locations
  • Searching online databases and other such activities

As you do the above-listed tasks, make sure that you carry out the following tips and recommendations below:

  1. All information collected for your research must be properly labelled. Therefore notes or photocopies must be labelled in such a way that the title, author/editor, year of publication and relevant page numbers from the document they come from can be easily identified.
  2. If any audio or video recordings are done by you, its label should include: who was interviewed, and who asked the questions, the date of the interview, the location of interview and the length of the interview.
  3. Whenever you are using printed materials like books and newspapers for example, never photograph the pages of these items while using them, especially in a library, as such an act without the permission from the author is illegal, request a photocopy instead.
  4. As much as possible use only local and regional artist and government online sources to find information about artists, their work and their themes as non-regional websites and sources may prove to be inaccurate. 

STEP 5 – Double-check Your Information

Make every effort to double check the information which you have collected to answer your research question(s) or problem statement(s). You double check your information by looking at what you have written down or typed to make sure that it reflects  what was discovered in the source that you took it from. In addition, you also double check by seeing if you can find the same information in more than one source, for example, if you find information in a book that an artist was born on a particular day, see if you can find the birth date of the artist in another book or a online source as well. By so doing you can be more confident that you are using reliable information.  

After doing that, another double checking action which you can perform includes emailing and or handing in to your teacher all the information you have found for him or her to examine it. To make this hand in easier for your teacher to interpret, under each question or problem make a comment about what you have found or just write out/type out the answer. Once your teacher has read through what you have presented, arrange a meeting with him or her to discuss their general comments, recommendations and or directives. At the end of this step you should be able to confirm that the information you have collected is accurate and can be used to answer your research questions and solve your research problems.

Step 6 – Presenting your Research Information in the Reflective Journal

At this step you are now ready to organize all appropriate information collected via research or generated through the development of personal art works, into a set of written paragraphs. These paragraphs are then to be used to complete each section/chapter of the CSEC visual arts Reflective Journal. This completes our focus on the role and related activities of research for the Reflective Journal. We hope that the information will be useful not only to students but also to the teachers who are, or will be leading these activities with their students. Look out for the final instalment of Writivity Essentials which will be focused on developing the “Art Analysis for the Reflective Journal”.

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