Interview with Second-Year AAD Student Jamie Walsh/
AAD 630 Research Methods, Winter 2013
I interviewed Jamie Walsh about her research topic and methods. Her research is entitled “Access and Inclusion: Artwork by Artists With Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illnesses.” At this time last year, Jamie was researching funding issues in several art centers in the Bay-area. While she is still focusing on the same art centers for her terminal research, she has shifted her focus away from funding to an area about which she is more passionate: how art centers can be more inclusive of artists with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. She initially picked funding as a research topic because she thought it was practical, but ultimately decided that it would not sustain her interest for the duration of her research project.
Jamie’s terminal research will take the form of a project (as opposed to a thesis or capstone). Her research methods include: literature review (specifically, reviewing literature concerning the historical segregation of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, and the topic of “outsider art”); case studies of three art centers; interviews; and documentation and analysis. Jamie expects to end her paper with recommendations for other art centers that would like to be more inclusive of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.
Jamie’s research is positioned from social constructivist and subjectivist perspectives, as she is situating her inquiry in a historical and sociological framework. Since much of her topic involves the perceptions people have of developmentally disabled and mentally ill individuals, her research necessarily acknowledges multiple viewpoints and subjective truths. For this reason, I would say that Jamie’s epistemological approach is undoubtedly post-positivist.
As I undertake my own research this term in Research Methods, I hope to better define both where I fall on the positivist/post-positivist spectrum (is it a spectrum?), and what epistemology is appropriate for my research area. As I believe my terminal research will ultimately be based on case studies, I think my findings will be subjective by nature. As I explained in my Initial Research Idea post for this class, I expect that my research will also be explorative and descriptive, rather than geared towards testing a defined hypothesis. I think the results of my research will be, for example, transferable versus generalizable, and auditable versus reproducible. However, through this term in Research Methods, I also hope to discover a way to include surveying and experimental methods into my inquiry. I don’t know if it is possible to combine a more “hard science” approach with a softer social science approach, but both approaches to research interest me. My overall goal in my terminal research is to produce usable tools for venues or community music centers to enrich their offerings with more interactive, healing- or transformation-centered programming. Through this class, I want to learn the best way to design my research in order to meet that practical end, while working with concepts as subjective and slippery as “transformation” and “healing.”