Research workshop with students

Subject: Linguistics. Course: The project DanTIN (Danish talk-in-interaction) has both been part of a MA-course and has worked as an open, voluntary research group for students and researchers. Study level: BA and MA. Group size: 8-10 students have been involved with a little replacement along the way. 

Motivation for the activity

I had hypotheses from my own research on grammar in conversation that I did not have time to investigate. I invited students to contribute and together the group developed the idea of a home page motivated by need to communicate to others than peers.  

Central learning outcomes for the course

The MA-course is a research workshop. Here the students learn how to conduct and convey research. 

Outcome of the activity

The goal has been to describe Danish talk-in-interaction for peers and convey this through an online grammar of conversation. 

Description of the activity

I began with a presentation for students and staff at the Linguistics department where I introduced the project and 10 hypotheses that I needed help to investigate. Students could volunteer to join and we formed the DanTIN-group consisting of approximately 10 students and me. We arranged meetings where different students took care of my different hypotheses.

From this work came descriptions and presentations which we discussed in the group, made into student papers, presented at peer-conferences and published as articles in journals (also peer reviewed journals).

In connection with an invitation to present at a conference we decided in the group that we needed to collect the scattered descriptions that we had made up to that point. We decided to launch a webpage with a unified description of the grammar of spoken Danish. See samtalegrammatik.dk (only in Danish).   

In the spring of 2013 I taught a research workshop (a module in the MA-programme in Linguistics) where the DanTIN-members (both BA and MA-students) participated and we all participated in the aforementioned conference. We formulated the groundwork for the website and in the fall of 2013 we wrote a unifying article and produced the website. It was launched at a major event in October 2013 and we have since worked with developing the website and starting new research projects.   

Outcome of the activity

My goal was to get research done that I did not have the possibility of doing myself. The result has exceeded all my expectations. I see the contours of a unified description of the grammar of spoken Danish, which is something I did not think possible.

The students have come up with ideas that I couldn’t have and their drive has been very important in getting the website running.

I did not have a particular learning goal in mind when we started, but I can tell that the students have developed their competences much more than through regular teaching, they have created a working community, and gotten experience and publications for their CV. 

Reflections on the activity

It is important that you as the researcher is engaged in the project and that you can see a role for the students where they can participate in full. The collaboration works as a community of practice where people learn from each other, and we enter into roles defined by experience and commitment but which are developing all the time.

In the periods where I have been busy elsewhere the work has been a little stagnant, while the periods where I have engaged in the work have been inspiring to several in the group. 

Other information on the activity

We have received support from the Department of Aesthetics and Communication so that students could participate in conferences etc. This has been an important factor.

We have also had a good collaboration with AU Communication who has made the platform for the website available, taught us how to use and maintain it and helped us when we have had problems. 

Jakob Steensig

Associate professor, PhD.

Visit samtalegrammatik.dk (in Danish)

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