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Dance dissertation advice


Clarkd3

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For mental health and learning disabilities you can look at the benefits of dance therapy.

For elderly you can look at the benefits of remaining active eg; keeps brain focused and joints supple. Any exercise is beneficial-plenty of research to support. The RAD launched Silver Swans for older dancers. Other benefits include being able to meet other people. One of the biggest mental health issues today is loneliness which contributes to anxiety and depression. With many budget cuts, elderly people have lost access to day centres so being able to access dance classes can fill a void.

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On 14/09/2019 at 15:55, Clarkd3 said:

any thoughts on a dissertation subject that is loosely based around the benefits of dance teaching to students

 

This sounds more like an affirmation, than an actual argument. You need to reframe your interest as an hypothesis around which you can gather evidence. So starting by saying the benefits of dance teaching isn't an hypothesis as such.

 

In order to find something that 'hasn't been done to death' you need to do a LOT of reading around your broad topic. This will take time, and you will do what my less successful students call "wasted" reading. It is not wasted - you need to know the broad outlines of the field of your topic, and the chief researchers and scholars in the field. 

 

An undergraduate dissertation doesn't need to be "original" (that is the central criterion for a PhD) but it must be independent.

 

One way to approach this is to think about examples of dance practice you have undertaken or observed. For a dissertation presumably to be written this year (your final undergrad year, I'm assuming), you can't rely on practical work you've done in the past, but you could extend or develop this in this year. Can you sit in on "Dance for Parkinson's" sessions, for example? You won't be able to do that for dance therapy as that is confidential therapy work. Or what about thinking about areas that aren't dance as such, but areas of practice which are influenced by dance?

 

But whatever you do, you need to have a body of primary source materials - that is, direct evidence of direct work, not just a series of summaries of what others have said. 

 

And my serious advice (25 years of supervising dissertations in this broad field) is that primary evidence in these sorts of areas is very difficult for undergrad students to get access to. How are you going to prove the benefit? Do you have statistics training? Or training in questionnaires or ethical clearance for talking to students about their perception of benefit? These are all serious and weighty questions.

 

In short a dissertation can't just be a statement or affirmation of what you believe. It must be an argument, supported by your gathering together and analysis of the evidence, including counter-evidence.

 

 

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My daughter started ballet in January at 5yo (year 1, summer birthday), at the time she was really struggling with school (she doesn't process things very quickly and we suspect dyslexia), since starting ballet though she processes things far more quickly, her spelling in particular has gotten much better and she concentrates far easier. She really loves ballet (she decided after about 2 lessons that she was going to be in the Royal Ballet when she grows up - no other company will do xD )

 

Obviously this is anecdotal but the changes in her academically and in her confidence were incredible once she started ballet, it could be interesting to focus on if you can find others have had similar experiences

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12 hours ago, Kate_N said:

 

This sounds more like an affirmation, than an actual argument. You need to reframe your interest as an hypothesis around which you can gather evidence. So starting by saying the benefits of dance teaching isn't an hypothesis as such.

 

In order to find something that 'hasn't been done to death' you need to do a LOT of reading around your broad topic. This will take time, and you will do what my less successful students call "wasted" reading. It is not wasted - you need to know the broad outlines of the field of your topic, and the chief researchers and scholars in the field. 

 

An undergraduate dissertation doesn't need to be "original" (that is the central criterion for a PhD) but it must be independent.

 

One way to approach this is to think about examples of dance practice you have undertaken or observed. For a dissertation presumably to be written this year (your final undergrad year, I'm assuming), you can't rely on practical work you've done in the past, but you could extend or develop this in this year. Can you sit in on "Dance for Parkinson's" sessions, for example? You won't be able to do that for dance therapy as that is confidential therapy work. Or what about thinking about areas that aren't dance as such, but areas of practice which are influenced by dance?

 

But whatever you do, you need to have a body of primary source materials - that is, direct evidence of direct work, not just a series of summaries of what others have said. 

 

And my serious advice (25 years of supervising dissertations in this broad field) is that primary evidence in these sorts of areas is very difficult for undergrad students to get access to. How are you going to prove the benefit? Do you have statistics training? Or training in questionnaires or ethical clearance for talking to students about their perception of benefit? These are all serious and weighty questions.

 

In short a dissertation can't just be a statement or affirmation of what you believe. It must be an argument, supported by your gathering together and analysis of the evidence, including counter-evidence.

 

 

Thank you, that’s really helpful x

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13 hours ago, lilyflower said:

My daughter started ballet in January at 5yo (year 1, summer birthday), at the time she was really struggling with school (she doesn't process things very quickly and we suspect dyslexia), since starting ballet though she processes things far more quickly, her spelling in particular has gotten much better and she concentrates far easier. She really loves ballet (she decided after about 2 lessons that she was going to be in the Royal Ballet when she grows up - no other company will do xD )

 

Obviously this is anecdotal but the changes in her academically and in her confidence were incredible once she started ballet, it could be interesting to focus on if you can find others have had similar experiences

 

Hello Lilyflower and welcome to the Forum!

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Yep, I‚Äôd second this, my DS is left handed and also on the dyslexic spectrum and has benefited no end from the discipline and precision of classical ballet. He used to be quite a clumsy child and is now quite graceful. I‚Äôd say his concentration has improved and he‚Äôs doing much better at school now. Happy to chat if you need any participants...ūüĎćūüĎć

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1 hour ago, Kate_N said:

These anecdotes are interesting, but can't be used in a university dissertation!

From a psychological perspective, I can see possibilities of using a narrative/social constructionist approach to research into how parents perceive the benefits of dance training for their children. This could certainly involve a handful of in-depth interviews ...... but I don't know if this type of research is what the OP is able to undertake to satisy the requirements of their degree.

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I did a research paper on whether research from education on parental engagement affecting attainment could be applied to the private sector dance. While researching I found a few companies who engage the whole family through dance, and research that suggested shared activities improved relationships? 

While I didn’t conduct any research I did link to my own pedagogic practice and considered ways to utilise the findings through my reflective journal. 

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17 hours ago, glissade said:

This could certainly involve a handful of in-depth interviews ...... but I don't know if this type of research is what the OP is able to undertake to satisy the requirements of their degree.

 

Sometimes my students come up with this sort of research method, but a problem arises if there hasn't been specific training in interviewing and qualitative research. As  you know, there are specific - and quite high level - skills involved. And those skills are not usually taught in a performing arts/dance degree  - we're too busy covering discipline specific content and skills!

 

At my place, this kind of research would also require ethical clearance, and quite a lot of secondary source reading in sociological research methods.

 

Just tagging on to @Bluebird22's post - this is a more nuanced way of doing the kind of research the OP seems to want to do. My only problem with this - as a dissertation supervisor - is, as Bluebird says, that there's no body of primary source material to analyse.

Edited by Kate_N
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I began the thread to help my DD as she was struggling with a suitable topic to focus on.

Reading all your anicdotes was fascinating to hear what we all know! My DD hasn’t made any decisions on what type of research she wants to do, it was simply to gather ideas and I’m sure she will be well supported by her tutors during the process!

Feel free to carry on posting¬†any ideas though, it‚Äôs all interesting stuff! ūüėä

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  • 4 weeks later...

Being aware that I may be accused of being flippant, my advice would be to avoid this topic altogether as you may be on a  hiding to nothing unless you have been thinking about the topic for the last couple of years, and been gathering information along the way.  By asking your question my initial response is that you aren't really invested in the topic.

 

My advice to undergraduate dissertation students is to keep it simple. After all, you only have a few months to get it all together.   Some of the best dissertations I have supervised, moderated etc. have been on topics which, on the surface, might appear simplistic or 'easy' (e.g. looking at reviews of a dance work by different dance critics across different decades - do you see what I see?, or the impact of different forms of feedback on a student's self concepts - thus, teachers needing to be aware of the effect of feedback on students, and strategies which students can draw on in mitigating negative impact).  The success indicators of these 'simple' dissertations were robust research questions, lines of enquiry which were critical and challenging, a methodological framework which was informed and credible, and identification/justification of emerging messages/trends.  I'm sure your  Supervisor will advise accordingly.

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