A useful few days at Warwick University for tutorials with my group. Day 1 was a session with the whole group . We started by asking each person to explain the purpose and design of their project so far and then letting the group discuss and critique the approach. Many good points emerged and people were reassured to learn that similar worries and concerns were being experienced by everyone. We concluded by talking about ethics and clarifying the process for obtaining ethical approval for people’s research.
Day 2 was spent on individual tutorial sessions. My aim was for the student to clarify to what extent they had mapped out the context of their research topic and hence get a feel for how much of it was still, for them, uncharted territory. As a by-product I wanted them to identify the key concepts involved and begin assembling these into a theoretical framework along the lines we had discussed in the November tutorials. Some of the results are shown below.
It focuses on the sustainability of project outputs rather than of the capacity to manage projects. Points of particular interest were: (a) the concept of sustainability ended up being related to impact and perhaps outcome, ie to to programme-level concepts, rather than to the direct project output; and (b) ‘efficiency in the use of resources; is an example of a variable concept, ie one which has a range of values, quantities or amounts.
It very helpfully draws together ideas contained in Beehr & Newman’s model (which I don’t much like) and the insightful model by Harrison. Some key insights to emerge were: (a) stress is caused by a misfit between a person’s self-assessment of their capability and their understanding of the nature of what they are required to do, neither of which are necessarily correct perceptions; (b) linkage to project performance is via the effect of strain on the actual (objective) performance of the project manager as compared to the performance required to meet project needs; and (c) methods for managing stress can be preventive or adaptive (reactive).
On Day 3 we took the opportunity to listen-in on what is being taught in the Research Methods module.