It has been a busy spring for Joe Norris.
In the midst of packing up his office to transfer to the new Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, the dramatic arts professor added three newly acquired items to take with him: two awards from the American Educational Research Association and one from Brock University.
Norris and Richard D. Sawyer from Washington State University captured the association’s Significant Contribution to Educational Measurement and Research Methodology Award.
They were recognized for their book, Understanding Qualitative Research: Duoethnography, which Norris and Sawyer co-wrote. The book details the duo’s new research methodology called “duoethnography.”
This involves two people conversing with one another on the same subject from very different viewpoints. As they gain insights and knowledge through the course of the conversation, the two people begin to change their perspectives. These changes in viewpoints become the research data.
This differs from traditional information-gathering methods, such as using questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations and other methods.
Norris’s second American Educational Research Association recognition is the 2015 Tom Barone Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts-Based Educational Research, which is given every three years for a lifetime of dedicated research.
“It is rewarding to know that something you’ve created supports the work of a large number of people,” says Norris of his recognitions and his focus on creating and developing unique research methodologies. “People have come up to me and said I’ve been able to provide a rationale that gives them justification for what they want or need to do.”
Among his many activities, Norris is credited with transforming playbuilding into a research methodology that uses theatrical devices to create performance/workshops that deepen our understanding of the social world.
Here, the participatory research “data” includes audience members’ responses to what they see on the stage or video. The audience addresses the problems they see being acted out, teaching themselves about the topic in the process.
To add to his collection, Norris also won the Faculty of Humanities’ 2015 Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity.
“Professor Norris’s accumulated record of work in theatre and social issues has certainly earned him this award,” says Carol Merriam, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.
“His use of his skills and talents in the exploration of social issues, including mental health issues, violence in the workplace and the negative impacts of alcohol, and the involvement of his students in this work, is especially impressive.”
Norris says he is heartened by the “generosity, playfulness and rigour” of students involved in his research projects, particularly Mirror Theatre, which he co-ordinates. Norris is currently exploring the pros and cons of the written word compared to other media, such as visual work, performances, dance, music and video.