I have been struggling this week with the concept of ‘perception‘. After a tutorial my focus was on how I might apporach the capture and analysis of students’ ‘perceptions‘ about assessment. This word has been quite fundamental to my description of the research. In the tutorial, we got talking about marketing theories and perceptual analysis as a method in that discipline.
Needless to say I know little about marketing. So what is the perceptual analysis? It has proved an elusive hunt but I have travelled over some interesting territory. One laden with ontological considerations and debate.
First there is the hermeneutics of Husserl and Heidegger. For one the importance of the existence of the objects of consciousness ONLY in the way in which they are perceived by the consciousness, for the other the autonomy of such objects irrespective of the sense we bestow on them. This perception is then reported linguistically and Wittgenstein’s concept of the language game filters any such sense.
Then there is the triple hermeneutics of Alvesson and Sköldberg (2000). Hermeneutics – the analysis of interpration, double hermeneutics – the analysis of interpreted interpretation (the dual lenses of researcher and respondent), triple hermeneutics – the analysis of interpreted interpretation and the context behind that interpretation (the three lenses of researcher, respondent and context).
Lowe et al (2005) propose a 4th hermeneutic in the context of marketing (and that was how I came in) but I am not sure yet how this applies!
Finally, and most pragmatically (*), Conroy (2003) examines interpretive phenomenology (or rather re examines it) and develops a methodology and methods for doing something fairly similar to what I am proposing, albeit in the context of nursing (the usual context for this approach, it seems). Here is a model that I need to examine and critique for its use in my study as I move towards the primary research phase.
And in this phrase – interpretive phenomenology – hides the word I have been meaning when I have said perception: it is interpretation. So not ‘what is a student’s perception of….’ but what is a student’s interpretation of…’ The problem is, you see, that perception has a particular meaning in this philosophical arena. I had to go down the false road of Arnold Berleant to realise it… Thanks are due here to my colleague Kev Flint…
I have a fair chunk of literature review written, I have many ideas about methodology and method. Now is the time to crystallize this and move on to ‘action’. My director of studies agrees and this ‘permission’ is what I have been waiting for…
(*) pragmatic in the the sense of being related to action… but actually very philosophical in nature