Welcome back!

So, we had a major pause and rethink on how to deliver on this project due to Covid-19. Dan in the archive has done some work on changing the last focus group into a one to one interview protocol, so that we can still get the rich data we require, but in the safest way possible. I have just started re-organising my workload and outstanding pieces of work, and had a meeting already with Dan about the project. I am really excited we can continue with this piece of work! So, this week we are promoting our conference. Dan has sent over the publicity and I have started promoting to outside networks. I am starting now to really think about how the material we gather can inform our good practice guide. Time to start the research! 

Shaking off the snow and back to work

It has certainly been a long few months! The project went into hibernation during COVID as the University reduced on site operations and we were unable to hold the workshop or continue our focus groups or data collection (especially given that many of the groups we are especially interested in hearing from are vulnerable).

We are now emerging from that hibernation – the ILT have kindly given us an extension to the end of the year. Now I just have to sort out the budgets so we can get more data collection in. The workshop has been turned into an online event on the 4th of December – we have a plan! And the online nature lets us get a wider participation. So, here is hoping this will be a little later but an even better end to the project.

Preparing for Networking

It’s been a busy week – and I’m (Dan) taking over the blog for the week as we prepare for the networking event and post to reflect our progress.

The conference/workshop day is coming together well – we’ve got some really interesting people wanting to contribute from the Library Archive Museum practitioner side as well as from educators. There is also a good mix of different types of collection – which is great as one thing our survey of existing studies has shown once more is that there are not huge amounts done specifically on any one area, with the largest being examinations of collections around sexuality. So being able to collate together the best practice identified from these will be a huge help, and especially important in an environment where one of the big discussion points is decolonising the curriculum.

We have our evaluation forms done and signed off and will be using them with our modules to get back data from in-class users. We will also be using the forms, along with recording and transcription of discussion, to gather information from the focus groups, which are now all booked in and ready. Paul and Rachel are busy at work preparing the small taster sessions that form part of that, and creating a NILE example.

We are looking forward to engaging with the other projects at the networking event using teaching boxes created in previous projects with ILT, and trying to get other researchers to come up with questions, concerns and comments about teaching with this material which we can include or address within the report and guide.


— Dan

Promoting the focus groups!

On the 20th January, the whole team met to discuss the project aims and to decide on the conference date, speakers, materials and focus groups. We decided to hold the conference on 4th June, and have created a call for contributors, rather than a call for papers. We are doing this so that it opens up the type of professionals who may want to come and attend, so that we get a mix of archivists, academics and those interested in archival collections which are radical. The call has gone out on social media, and we have several new twitter followers because of this, which demonstrates we are reaching a larger audience. We are working on the leaflets for the two focus groups now, and we are expecting those to be on the 4th and 18th March. Once the leaflets are finalised, we will promote them to students and use our community connection via NREC to promote to the community. An exciting potential new collaboration may have come out of one of our new connections too, so this is shaping up to be an excellent project with new engagement…

Focus on the literature…

So today we are back researching after the Christmas vacation, and we are catching up with our project. Dan and I have taken a look at the evaluation forms we have previously used for archival projects. We recognise that we will need to revise these for both of our focus group interviews to get the best out of them. I will be meeting NREC (Northamptonshire Rights and Equalities Council) tomorrow, to discuss with them potential advertising for participants for the community focus group, drawn from their contacts with the community. We have also completed some planning on the focus groups and the conference. 

The rest of today has been conducting literature searches, looking at radical archive collections, BAME engagement and radical pedagogies. This literature gathering is to support the work to produce our best practice guide, which will be produced after the conference. We have also planned in a meeting with all the project group, to discuss the focus groups, teaching and teaching boxes from the archive and the conference overview for next week. 

Watch and wait…

Today has been an interesting day so far. Dan and I have been discussing and researching for our conference, which is part of this bid.  Our conference objective is to explore how other universities use Radical Collections. Through this, we will use the conference to inform the creation of a Best Practice Guide.  We have been researching suitable keynote speakers, and have come up with several across academic and work-related fields. We are considering two speakers, one from academia for the morning sessions, and one more practice based for the afternoon. In this way, we get the best of both worlds, so to speak. We have several excellent people to now contact.

Dan has also been working on the evaluation forms for the project. The evaluation forms serve two purposes. Firstly, we want to utilise them with existing student cohorts to find out their opinions using radical collections. This research is moving us on from our previous research held at Park campus. This research is also specifically targeting radical collections, and by gaining data, we wish to draw deeper conclusions from this. I have been researching radical archives, radical pedagogies across several themes, in order to provide a sound academic basis for our research.  So far, there is quite a lot of information found using radical teaching practices, so this work is ongoing.

Later in the week, I will also be chasing up last week’s emails to the faculties to see who engages with radical archives. This is important work, as it will be used as a basis for our radical database.

The project begins!

Good afternoon, I am Siobhan, the research assistant for the Searchlight Archive. I am very excited to be working on this project, which is to explore the impact of our teaching using radical and extreme collections upon BAME students. We want to find out whether teaching this material impacts upon module engagement and could therefore impact attainment. 

We recently came back from a conference at De Montfort University, presenting our work on radical pedagogies. Our work was praised as innovative and has spurred us on to research and showcase our radical collections. We are in a privileged position to hold a large and ever growing radical collection here at UoN, and it is important to share it as much as possible.  We do not take radical collections lightly, as they can cause harm if not framed appropriately. Dan and I manage these risks often, with outreach, conference papers and engagement, so will therefore keep this to the front of our planning. 

To kick start the project, Dan and I have been project planning. We have been working out key deadlines, and the setting up of focus groups for students and the community to input into our research. Our focus group work will begin in the next semester, as the rest of this semester will be working on finding out who already engages with radical collections, and creating a database of the findings. We will update the progress with this task in the next blog. 

The Reason Why

First of all, we would like to welcome everyone to this blog which will report back on and document the 2019/20 ILT funded innovation project examining how teaching using Radical Collections can impact upon BAME and other targeted groups, developing best practice and identifying both problems and opportunities in this form of pedagogy. This blog will primarily be updated by our Research Assistant, Siobhan Hyland, but will also feature content from our Project Lead, Daniel Jones, and our academic team members, Dr Paul Jackson and Dr Rachel Moss.

The idea for the project comes from several avenues. It builds firstly on previous work done by Dr Jackson, Daniel Jones and Siobhan Hyland, as well as former assistant Billy Mann, examining methods of using Radical Collections as ways to engage students with their learning and improve engagement, and therefore attainment. Previous projects also looked at the skills gaps that emerged from that which might hold students back from engaging with these enhancing activities. Since this work was carried out we have seen an increase in interest in this field with the University of London hosting a conference in 2018 on the impact Radical Collections can have on BAME engagement with archives and library studies, and the subjects that use them.

Discussing this with our new colleague, Dr Moss, we realised that there was an opportunity here to study these theories using the University’s position as an innovator in this area, but to take it further and consider whether there was truly an enhancing engagement effect to existing students, but also consider how it might be used with the wider community to commemorate and tell these histories. We also felt it was important to consider the potential negative impact that this material can have – it can be offensive to those not targeted by these groups, so could be more than that to people who engage and where that impact might resonate with personal experiences. it is assumed that these personal linkages deepens engagement, but does it raise safeguarding concerns, how should those be handled, and does it risk a trauma that potentially acts as a barrier to engagement and needs careful framing? We will, in this project, examine all of these things and hopefully mitigation that might need to be put in place, and create a best practice guide.