Adapted from an email conversation with Alice Sheppard.
We've been discussing the domain of qualitative research methodology, and you asked how movement figures as a part of sensory perception. The short answer is I don't know, and we're still playing with that. But I do have fragments of what might become a longer answer someday. using one's own body/movements as clues -- if you're in an observational situation and realize your posture
One fragment is the idea of using one's own body/movements as clues during an observation, essentially treating your body as a complex sensor. Qualitative researchers are often told that they are now their own research instrument -- but sometimes I feel like discussions assume that this is mostly about the mind, the cognition you have and what has shaped it. I'm explicitly exploring integrating embodiment into this and actively prioritizing it. If you're in an observational situation and realize your back slumps, or you're fiddling with a pen, or your stomach is tensed, what does that mean about how you're observing and the state you're in and what viewpoint you might be taking and how you might want to respond? This is somatic awareness. It's key to get students to realize they are not disembodied observing brains.
Another connected element is noting the movements of others as a way to flag significant moments, and echoing that movement back to them as prompts in later conversations/interviews ("when the box opened, your hand came up like this, and you looked away -- what were you thinking at that point in time?") Basically, validating and allowing kinesthetics/movement as data, and practicing ways to perceive, record, remember, and communicate that movement back to others. It might be fun to mix this into more dance/choreography practice. For instance, movement notation could be a tool for
For instance, movement notation could be a tool for fieldnotes. I can't for the life of me read Labanotation (yet) and would need lots of training/practice for that to become a useful tool to my work... but the principles it breaks movements down into are helpful. There's also the dancer's/actor's practice of observing and imitating fine details of movement, studio-based practices for dialog/iteration around movement... so much training and pedagogy in the fine and performing arts that would cross-apply. I don't have the depth here to cross-apply it, but there are people who can, and I would love to help translate from the engineering/qualitative side.
Another is veering into more of a critical theory direction, looking at influences on power dynamics and performances with, within, and/or against systems and structures. I attend -- and want to teach attention to -- physical placement and constant motion of self during interviews/observations; height, gaze, placement, etc. of the observer and observed communicating dynamics of power, role, etc. Movement is an intervention and a tool to use in dialogue with participants, and we can think critically about it the same way we scrutinize question wording in survey design, look over lab protocols, and so on. This is almost akin to a clinical skill development, in my mind -- and my mind jumps to the pedagogical practices of teaching future speech therapists how to work with a child's articulation, teaching future physical therapists how to palpate muscle, teaching future counselors how to listen and respond...
Perhaps one way to categorize it would be looking at disciplinary pedagogies and seeing how some of them cross-apply to the ways of being that I want to examine within qualitative methodology, especially with an engineering student audience. I love methodology; I love exploring it, examining it, being on the boundaries of practice and philosophy.