July 15, 2010

Non Compliance - Part 2

As promised, here's a recollection of what happened this morning.

At 8.55 a.m. I went to see Mr. M who is in-charge of Class X. I was told that he had explained to the students about my work and that they were okay with it. This was important as I needed their full cooperation in class.

We got to the classroom at exactly 9.00 a.m. and I could see that all seven students were already waiting for us. They were all female and in my biased opinion, they were much much  older than me. I'm not being vain here. I could tell they were older cos most of them wore a distinct kind of attire that shouts AUNTY.

After the five-minute scan, I started the session by telling them a little bit about my research and what I needed them to do. I assured them that the tasks they were doing had not effect on their grades and that  their identity would be anonymous. To end my little speech, I thanked them for their participation and gave them my brightest smile ever. Sadly, none of them returned the gesture. But that was fine. I couldn't let it bother me.

The first task involved a questionnaire survey. I distributed the paper and told them to take their sweet time. When they got the handouts, they started flipping the pages and examined each section thoroughly. When they realised that there were over 60 questions involved, things started to get a  little bit ugly. Five of them started making faces and the other two began exchanging paragraphs and paragraphs of dissatisfaction in Chinese. I understand Chinese, but I couldn't really grasp what the two were talking about. From their body language however, I could tell that they were not happy with the task.  Since none of them had the guts to tell me how they felt, I refused to acknowledge their hesitance and pretended everything was cool.

After a minute or so, they decided to get on with the task and started concentrating on the questions. Phew! I let out a silent sigh of relief. Thirty minutes later, they were done. I collected the papers and secured them in my bag. Now, it was time for Task 2. Essay Writing. I took out the handouts and laid them on the table. As I was about to distribute the papers, the students started looking at each other. Confused. I ignored the negative response and proceeded with the distribution. Once everyone had gotten the paper, I explained the task briefly and told them to start. This time, they rebelled. From this point onwards, I shall refer to them as Aunty 1 -  7 okay?

Aunty 1 looked at the handout with disdain and gave me a stare which echoed "Are you kidding me?"

Aunty 2 took the paper and shoved it in her file, as if telling me she'd do it in 2012 if or when she feels like it.

Aunty 3 took out her note book and purposely laid it on the questionnaire. There was a loud thud! She looked at me stonily with her arms defensively folded across her chest, like cari gaduh kind of expression.

Aunty 4 and 5 (the two who spoke in Chinese earlier) started doing what they do best: exchanging paragraphs and paragraphs of complaints in Chinese.

Aunty 6 was the one and only student who wasn't rude to me. She was too worried about not being able to write the essay and she even requested a copy of the questionnaire so she could learn something.

This is the best.
Aunty 7 raised her hand and told be blatantly "I don't want to write." Wow kan? You've got to admire her candidness.

While digesting all this, part of me wanted to shout "Why can't you just do it? JUST DO IT!!!!" and then there was also that fragile part of me that wanted to run in a corner and cry my heart out. I did neither.

I asked them "Is there a problem?" They just sat there, talking with each other in Chinese. They were  obviously giving me the cold shoulder. One of them said something about not liking the topic and another one said wo pu yau se (I don't want to write) to her friends. 

I decided to try a different approach. I tried explaining to the students the reasons behind the writing activity and  how it would affect the study as a whole. I explained everything in detail to make them feel more involved in the study. When I was done, I expected them to soften a little. But NO. These aunties were not only rude, they were heartless too. They just sat there looking unconvinced and uninterested, as if they  were watching paint dry you know. Some of them shook their heads. That was the final blow.

I wasn't going to force them to write if they didn't want to so I told them to return all the handouts. I gathered  my stuff and prepared to leave. I wanted to walk away calmly, without saying a word, but I couldn't control the word vomit that was coming out of my mouth.
"You know, before agreeing to participate in this study, you should really think hard before you say yes. You said yes  to your tutor and that means you were willing to commit. I am here because he told me you all said YES. You have wasted my time!"

I guess that wasn't exactly how I said it but it's somewhere along those lines. I can't remember word by word cos the stuff just came out spontaneously.

The whole incident wasn't really that bad but I hated the feeling it evoked. I was left feeling frustrated, angry and defeated. The last time I was challenged like that was when Mark refused to lompat katak and that wasn't even half as bad as this one. But like Yoda said, we have to be prepared for the unexpected because we have no control over our subjects. He's right. That's what I've learnt today.
It's time to switch to Plan B cos I am through with students from College X.


Mell_f said...

Aduh,so much for the data collection. Stay patient ya.

JIPP said...

Erkkk! that's so ignorant bunch of aunties. I mean, i tot aunties should understand better than teenagers. kin panas kan Liz. Bah, I'm sure there's always a way of getting ur research done.

Octavia said...

oh dear liz....so sorry for you....nevermind i'll send Del to whack those so called teachers heheh. So what's plan B? Can you collect data here? If you're lookin for TESL students...we still have a few who are under supervision by APB lecs for their thesis.boleh pakai diorangkah?

Lizeewong said...

Mell-Ya...Your data collection work sounds sooo much nicer :) Trying to be patient la ni..

Jipp-Ya ba..Panas oh..sikit mau malatup.

Oct-Bah, suru c Del dtg sini. Hehe...No la dear, I cannot recruit the TESL students for this particular group. Maybe for the next study buli. Plan B would be using a different method of assessment I guess. Mau tanya c Yoda dulu.Me paning2 lalat ba

Wiskies said...

Quite rude & they are so lazy.. Betul2 menguji kesabaran oh. sigh.. one day they'll get something like what they've done on you..

Mimi said...

How rude juga your "subject" tu, at least when it was Mark, you can call somebody else to marah on your behalf tapi ni student tua-tua.. Sabar saja la.. Hope all goes well moi.

chegu carol said...

Kin panas!
Sudah lah Mr W bikin panas, students yg dia bagi lagi lah bikin panas...errkkk

Bah, hope you find other better alternatives to get your data collection done la kio moi.

TheWanderingSumandak...... said...

Moi, so sorry to hear that..that was rude of them!