More information on the research project
It’s great to have such enthusiastic responses. Steve, my husband and regular poster on here has provided the technical info some of you have requested on him by way of veryifying me.
I’m doing the research for my own PhD study at Liverpool Hope University, UK where I work. I have an academic profile on the University’s website if anyone wants to read it http://www.hope.ac.uk/component/option,com_comprofiler/task,userProfile/user,73/Itemid,107/. Roger Davies of Unicycle.com and Connie Cotter can both confirm who I am and what I’m doing. I have written articles related to my research in the first three editions of the UNI magazine. The research project has ethical clearance from the University. I’m interested in the topic as an ex-teacher and now lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies.
If any one is interested in talking to me there would be an email dialogue which included parental consent for any under 18s. The two interviews I have done so far have been at people’s houses with other family members present. I am in Manchester and will travel anywhere within the UK to interview people. I am happy to have an email dialogue with people living in other countries or for anyone going to Unicon this year I’m willing to meet with them there. Of course, any conversations anyone has with me as part of my research would be treated with anonymity - their name would be removed. This post is just the very beginning of that process.
[I]Below is a summary of my research so far:
Unicycling as a motivator of young people and
an influence on their self-identity and self-esteem;
implications for an alternative curriculum in schools
This ethnographic research project examines six case studies of young people who unicycle. Two case studies have been completed so far involving retrospective interviews, observations and focus groups. Ninety questionnaires have been completed by unicyclists to provide quantitative supporting data.
Data gathered so far suggests three significant findings. Firstly that young people who are successful at unicycling are motivated to learn, and then further develop their skill level, by the challenge and intense satisfaction felt, linked to clear goal setting and achievement. Secondly, being successful at unicycling has a positive impact on an individual’s self-identity and global self-esteem. Participants report an increase in their concentration levels generally and identify new social opportunities and relationships as key benefits of the sport. Thirdly, teachers are not harnessing the high levels of motivation created in individuals by unicycling, by valuing the individual’s skills or interests in school, either formally or informally.
The paper suggests that if, in this case unicycling, or other activities selected by pupils themselves, were incorporated into an alternative (informal) curriculum this could enhance motivation, and therefore achievement, in the formal curriculum. It argues that unicycling is a lifestyle sport, as defined by Wheaton (2004) and therefore that parallels can be drawn from the findings to other sports, particularly other lifestyle sports, and related youth activities.
The data is presented as narrative stories of the unicyclists in order to ensure authenticity and truth in the representation of the young people’s lived experiences. The stories take the form of creative non-fiction as defined by Sparkes (2002), in that they are structured around real events which the young riders were observed in.[/I]