AQUALM – Conversation Analysis Summer School (University of York, 2-6 June 2014)

PhD students Helen Cameron (Communication and Media Studies Pathway, University of Sheffield; h.m.cameron@sheffield.ac.uk), Agnes Kovacs (Psychology Pathway, University of Sheffield; AKovacs2@sheffield.ac.uk) and Carla Cristina Munhoz Xavier (Linguistics and Language Sciences Pathway, University of York; ccmx500@york.ac.uk) share their experience of attending the summer school.

dtcmatter1The Conversation Analysis Summer School was a week-long course held as part of the White Rose DTC Advanced Qualitative Methods training series. The course was run by Professor Celia Kitzinger (University of York) and Professor Ray Wilkinson (University of Sheffield) with additional teaching from Dr Beatrice Szczepek Reed (University of York), Dr Merran Toerien (University of York), Professor Sue Wilkinson (Loughborough University) and Dr Richard Ogden (University of York). The aim of the summer school was to develop the analytic skills of PhD and early career researchers and practitioners using conversation analysis in their own research.

Delegates travelled from near and far to attend the course: there were delegates from White Rose universities and other institutions across the UK, in addition to students from different universities in Europe and America. This mixture of international students ensured a diverse range of data were presented, analysed and debated throughout the course, including adult and child data in French, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, and British Sign Language, amongst others.

dtcmatter2The pre-course information indicated the summer school would be ‘intensive’, and it most certainly was! Each day concentrated on one core concept of conversation analysis (e.g. turn-taking, repair, word selection) and was structured into a fundamentals session, an advanced session and an opportunity for students to work with relevant data. This learning accumulated across the week with students coming away with a huge amount of knowledge and skill. In addition, there were three days of challenging homework, some quick-fire question and answer rounds, spur of the moment student presentations and student-led data sessions. Any nerves about analysis or data-discussion were knocked out of us on the first day! This all took place in a supportive, inspiring environment with everyone working together to share their knowledge and areas of specialism. Attendees were encouraged to network during breaks and to meet up in the evenings to complete the homework activities (and for a purely social meal on the Thursday!) with the York-based students being willing and very welcoming hosts.

The learning curve was steep at times, but the teachers’ enthusiasm and passion for rigorous conversation analysis was contagious. This course is highly recommended to anyone using conversation analysis in their research: there is no doubt that this course will develop knowledge and skills which will be directly applicable to your own research. The 2014 group intends to continue collaborating with Celia and Ray on a project started during the summer school so we are all looking forward to all staying in touch.