5.2.3 Discussion of Question 2 responses

Question 2 was intended to measure the level of confidence participants had in their engagement with the material provided and their 'archaeological thinking': i.e. the translation of the archaeological process. For most participants, demonstrating Type A responses, there was strong evidence that they considered themselves agents in the interpretative process. Their responses typically used language such as 'I feel' or 'I believe', which arguably suggests a higher level of engagement and participation than 'I know', or simply 'it was/was not'. The former suggest the tentative expression of something arrived at independently. Interestingly, none of the participants used language such as 'I learned' or 'I read', nor did they refer to specific content of the paper. Their responses, rather, were typically, as one participant put it, 'just an overall feeling I guess, like familiarity. Maybe new familiarity — once you've seen the artefacts a few times you kind of know it'. These responses referred to the content of the paper only very generally.

Type B responses, upon discussion during interviews, emerged as reluctance directly related to a developing sense of academic accountability in doctoral students and the need of some students to feel themselves 'experts' before expressing any intellectual opinion. When asking other doctoral students whether they had experienced the same reluctance when participating, several expressed the opinion that the format of the study and participatory nature liberated them from that concern, allowing them to see something they 'felt' (an embodied knowledge) as valuable, as opposed to something they had 'learned' (intellectual).

Only one of the participants (a Type B respondent, postgraduate, Engineering) expressed concern in their interview that this method might detract from the strength of the academic merit of the information or obscure accountability, stating that 'If I'm learning something, I like to be walked through it. I want an expert, someone I respect intellectually, to tell me. I don't want to use my imagination'. All other Type A and Type B respondents reported that the degree of referencing and detail provided left them assured of the academic quality of the material presented to them. This is interesting, as it correlates with Dicks and Hurdley's preliminary findings that hyperlinked media can provide a middle ground between media such as film and photography and traditional academic discourse (Dicks and Hurdley 2009). It does, as they suggest, exploit the advantages offered by each, while providing a solution to their various drawbacks: for example, the fact that some sources are not attributed academic value (e.g. film), while academic writing is exclusive, is typically taken at face value as 'factual' and does not allow for the participation of the audience in evaluating veracity. The final format presented is one which openly recognised the fact that whatever language is employed or style used, academic discourse is always interpretative (Joyce 2006, 65), a concept which was much more readily accepted by the participants than anticipated.


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