Monday, July 4, 2011

IV. Revisiting Brasel (1976): The Research of Abrams, Cerney, Hoock, Marble, Prestano & Staehle

So now we are ready to understand the current study.
Abrams, Cerney, Hoock, Marble, Prestano & Staehle (2011)

In January of 2011 41 staff interpreters employed by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) were asked to participate in a study on Interpreting, based on their Winter Quarter schedules placing them within a lecture setting for at least one hour on their own, without a team interpreter.  Eighteen of these interpreters consented to participate in the study.  Four were not able to provide the study's goal of three forty-minute (or longer) samples of work with the same consumers and setting.  Of the fourteen subjects that remained in the study nine provided a single data set, three provided two data sets each, and one subject completed four different data sets.  This resulted in a grand total of 20 completed sets of three different recordings (each one 40 minutes or longer) within the same setting/participants.

Ten additional sets of at least one recording 40 minutes or longer (four of them additional subjects not in the primary data set, six are interpreters already in the primary data set but with different participants/settings).  These data sets were incomplete due to scheduling of midterm exams; field trips; or interpreter, student, or faculty absences.  Additional data was also discarded due to the subject being the second interpreter in a two-hour class that dismissed prior to a full forty minutes of class time in the second hour.

The data was collected by four Interpreting students at Keuka College as part of their Field Period experiences.  Student researchers were available for the first three and a half weeks of January which was when all of the data was collected.  Students met with the interpreters prior to beginning data collection to ensure a smooth integration with existing classroom behaviors (introduction to instructor and students, location of the camera, etc.)  All subjects regularly (at least annually if not quarterly) videotaped their own work within classroom settings so the provision of a student researcher to run a video recording was generally perceived as a benefit to the subjects, who were able to obtain copies of their own performances to review privately.  The cameras were all HD Vivitar cameras with fixed lenses and digital zoom.  The pixilation of the digital zoom on these cameras caused poor quality video and the researchers were instructed to refrain from depending upon it for capturing the subjects' interpretations.  The focus of the entire study was on the ASL production of English-to-ASL interpreting.  All of the recordings were captured on SD memory cards.  Recordings were copied from these cards into a Macintosh computer running Quicktime to play the video files.  Backup copies were made onto an external hard drive and the SD memory cards were erased and used again for subsequent recordings.

In addition to the video recording of interpreting work each subject was asked to complete a six-item questionnaire.  Three items asked the subjects to rate (on a 1 - 5 scale) their own mental alertness, physical stress and topic preparation prior to and after each interpreting sample.  Student researchers were also asked to note any possible indications of fatigue that they noticed.

The analysis of the data is on-going.  Two initial explorations have been completed.  Both were considered productive and may result in a more widespread analysis in the future.  Neither of these initial explorations of the data have included the questionnaire or student researcher notes.  Both of the initial analyses were conducted directly by the lead researchers, Abie Abrams and Brian Cerney, in June and July of 2011.