Undergraduate Conference – Diary Entry 1

by Craig Evans

In April I will be attending the British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR) in Nottingham. This will be BCUR’s fourth year and my first of what I hope will be many more academic conferences to come in the future. I must say, I am feeling a bit nervous.

I am also quite excited about the opportunity to meet students from other universities and disciplines. By all accounts, undergraduate conferences are a great way to share your interests and ideas with likeminded people; they also provide an introduction to the world of research for budding academics.

Well, this is what I keep reminding myself as I look forward to it with a certain amount of trepidation. The truth is I still have a lot of work to complete before I’ll be ready for the conference, and I can’t help but wonder if I may have been a little too ambitious with my choice of topic.

The topic I have chosen to research is the use of conversation analysis as a part of reflective practice. My interest in the subject stems from the idea that everyday talk is an important part of people’s life opportunities: it influences how we build relationships, express identity, negotiate meaning, etc. But how often do we reflect on our conversational performance?

The problem is that it simply isn’t practical to record all our conversation for the purpose of reflecting on how we do it. That’s not to say, however, that a focus on a short excerpt of our everyday talk, using key features from conversation analysis, cannot be of benefit. In institutional settings, this type of research has helped improve communication between doctors and patients, to give just one example: why can’t it do the same for people in non-institutional settings?

Of course, the idea of ‘improving’ somebody’s conversational performance in non-institutional settings can be very subjective. It depends on what each individual wants to achieve with their conversation. I will certainly need to consider this as part of my research.

So this is my first diary entry. All being well, I shall post some more in the near future to reflect on my progress. In the meantime, should anybody reading this have any advice or reading suggestions, then please do leave your comments below.

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