Title
Mediating and policing community disputes: Developing new methods for role-play communication skills training
Description
This follow-on project translated empirical research findings from a previous ESRC-funded project investigating neighbour disputes (studied across settings including community mediation and the police, and involving the analysis of recorded interaction between mediators and clients; police officers and suspects), to develop a new approach to communication training for mediators and police officers, called the 'Conversation Analytic Role-play Method' (CARM). CARM has established itself internationally, with uptake across public, private and third-sector organizations, and has been successfully commercialized as a social enterprise: www.carmtraining.org. Over 90 CARM training workshops have taken place at over 60 organizations. CARM’s impact on training practice is evidenced by its accreditation by the College of Mediators for the Continuing Professional Development of mediators. CARM won Loughborough University’s Social Enterprise Award (2013); it is both an ESRC and REF 2014 Impact Case Study.
Language
English
Author
Elizabeth Stokoe
Summary of scientific impacts
The remit of ‘follow-on’ projects is to develop knowledge exchange from research findings (see ROS). However, this project achieved significant scientific impact and is both an ESRC and a REF 2014 Impact Case Study. First, it established a new methodology for communication training: the Conversation Analytic Role-play Method. CARM works by taking research findings about what works in interaction between professionals and, in this case, suspects (police interviews) and clients (mediation), using extracts from actual recordings as training materials. Animation software is used to play sound and transcript synchronously; participants ‘live through’ real encounters without knowing what is coming next and ‘role-play’ what they might do to handle the situation. After revealing what actually happened next, participants are able to identify effective practice by seeing what works in real encounters. Second, to promote CARM’s originality in the context of a static training community dominated by role-play or simulation, the follow-on project took the opportunity to compare actual encounters to recordings of role-play training itself. Most research on the authenticity of role-play asks participants about their training experiences but does not directly compare the two types of interaction. Mine was the first study to assess role-played interaction against its real-life counterpart. Third, the project created new research capacity amongst early career and established academics who have begun to use CARM to translate pure research findings into training. I have been invited to showcase CARM at universities across the UK and internationally; it has been built into further funding applications, and has been referred to as “the most significant development” in applied conversation analysis (Michael Emmison, University of Queensland). Finally, the project has resulted in a large academic-practitioner CARM network of over 600 members (carm@lboro.ac.uk and mediators@lboro.ac.uk).
Findings and Outputs
There are three sets of findings and outputs. First, research underpinning the impact examined the causes of neighbour disputes (RES-148-25-0010 “Identities in neighbour discourse: Community, conflict and exclusion”). The project collected and analysed a dataset of 600 audio-recordings, comprising telephone encounters between members of the public and mediation or local authority services and police investigative interviews with suspects in neighbour-related crime. This research identified key areas for miscommunication between staff (mediators, police officers) and members of the public (callers, clients and suspects) which then fed into CARM workshops. For example, mediators often failed, in initial intake calls, to convert callers into clients of their service, resulting in fewer clients. Analysis revealed barriers to mediation, as well as the endogenous practices used by some mediators to overcome them (e.g., Edwards & Stokoe, 2007; Stokoe, 2013a). It was also found that mediators and police officers struggled to respond to racist, ageist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced clients or suspects. Analysis revealed strategies that maintained, or failed to maintain, impartiality in such cases (Stokoe, 2009; 2013b; Stokoe & Edwards, 2007). It was also found that question design impacted on the outcome of interactions. Analysis revealed techniques that led to confessions (police) or client generation (mediation) (e.g., Edwards & Stokoe, 2007; 2011; Stokoe, 2013a; Stokoe & Edwards, 2008; 2010). Second, the CARM methodology makes a unique contribution to applied and translational conversation analysis (Stokoe, 2011). Third, CARM’s originality comes from the fact that it is grounded in genuine rather than imitation encounters. Stokoe (2013c) found that role-played talk differs significantly from the actual talk it claims to mimic, which has implications for training, as well as for assessing communication skills based upon what people do in role-play.
How these impacts were achieved
The outcomes above were achieved through the publications described above, as well as through numerous invited conference papers, plenary lectures and university departmental seminars in the UK and internationally. Since the start of the follow-on funding in February 2011, I have presented over 40 such talks, including fully funded invitations from and research trips to universities across Sweden, The Netherlands, USA and UK. Since submitting the ‘End of Award’ report in November 2012, I have presented at Coventry, Uppsala (Sweden), Edinburgh, Northeastern (Boston, USA), New Hampshire (USA), and Open Universities; at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York; at the International Communication Association Conference (London) and the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group Conference (Toronto). Forthcoming talks are already scheduled for Newcastle, Lincoln, Northumbria, Northampton and Tampere (Finland) Universities; for a keynote at International Conference Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Geneva, and for the Interaction in Institutional and Non Institutional Contexts research group, based at the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo (Brazil). My inaugural lecture, delivered in March 2012 and which discussed CARM, has had the most views of any such lecture at Loughborough University. In addition, CARM has a web domain and website, which is a multi-facing source of information for academics and practitioners alike (www.carmtraining.org).
Who these findings impact
The project has many academic beneficiaries, from PhD students to experienced researchers, particularly in the field of conversation analysis. Many of the activities described above were with research groups (e.g., Anéla Study Group Discourse Analysis (AWIA) symposium in The Netherlands; a consortium of conversation analysts in north-east USA). More specifically, having trained other conversation analysts to use CARM, it has been adopted by groups of researchers in Sweden (e.g., Dr Erica Sandlund, Karlstad University, is using CARM within a project called ‘Testing Talk’, focused on second language speaking tests, offering training for teachers; Professor Anna Lindström, Uppsala University, is using CARM in a project about financial conversations at the Swedish student loans company). I have also been invited to join several funding proposals by researchers in different disciplines to incorporate CARM as an applied outcome of pure conversation analytic research. These include a successful pump-prime bid to Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust to examine police interviews with vulnerable adult victims of crime; a new grant application to ESRC on service communication between an energy company and vulnerable adults (ref. 12/13 0074), and a bid with medics to NIHR (ref. 11767) to understand decision-making between doctors and parents of terminally ill pre-term babies. I am also PI on a current ESRC Centre application (ES/L00674X/1) that will study service communication between providers and users across 40 third, public and private sector organizations, and aims to translate research findings into training interventions including CARM.
Summary of economic impacts
The remit of ‘follow-on’ projects is to develop knowledge exchange from research findings (see ROS). However, this project achieved significant scientific impact and is both an ESRC and a REF 2014 Impact Case Study. First, it established a new methodology for communication training: the Conversation Analytic Role-play Method. CARM works by taking research findings about what works in interaction between professionals and, in this case, suspects (police interviews) and clients (mediation), using extracts from actual recordings as training materials. Animation software is used to play sound and transcript synchronously; participants ‘live through’ real encounters without knowing what is coming next and ‘role-play’ what they might do to handle the situation. After revealing what actually happened next, participants are able to identify effective practice by seeing what works in real encounters. Second, to promote CARM’s originality in the context of a static training community dominated by role-play or simulation, the follow-on project took the opportunity to compare actual encounters to recordings of role-play training itself. Most research on the authenticity of role-play asks participants about their training experiences but does not directly compare the two types of interaction. Mine was the first study to assess role-played interaction against its real-life counterpart. Third, the project created new research capacity amongst early career and established academics who have begun to use CARM to translate pure research findings into training. I have been invited to showcase CARM at universities across the UK and internationally; it has been built into further funding applications, and has been referred to as “the most significant development” in applied conversation analysis (Michael Emmison, University of Queensland). Finally, the project has resulted in a large academic-practitioner CARM network of over 600 members (carm@lboro.ac.uk and mediators@lboro.ac.uk).
Findings and Outputs
There are three sets of findings and outputs. First, research underpinning the impact examined the causes of neighbour disputes (RES-148-25-0010 “Identities in neighbour discourse: Community, conflict and exclusion”). The project collected and analysed a dataset of 600 audio-recordings, comprising telephone encounters between members of the public and mediation or local authority services and police investigative interviews with suspects in neighbour-related crime. This research identified key areas for miscommunication between staff (mediators, police officers) and members of the public (callers, clients and suspects) which then fed into CARM workshops. For example, mediators often failed, in initial intake calls, to convert callers into clients of their service, resulting in fewer clients. Analysis revealed barriers to mediation, as well as the endogenous practices used by some mediators to overcome them (e.g., Edwards & Stokoe, 2007; Stokoe, 2013a). It was also found that mediators and police officers struggled to respond to racist, ageist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced clients or suspects. Analysis revealed strategies that maintained, or failed to maintain, impartiality in such cases (Stokoe, 2009; 2013b; Stokoe & Edwards, 2007). It was also found that question design impacted on the outcome of interactions. Analysis revealed techniques that led to confessions (police) or client generation (mediation) (e.g., Edwards & Stokoe, 2007; 2011; Stokoe, 2013a; Stokoe & Edwards, 2008; 2010). Second, the CARM methodology makes a unique contribution to applied and translational conversation analysis (Stokoe, 2011). Third, CARM’s originality comes from the fact that it is grounded in genuine rather than imitation encounters. Stokoe (2013c) found that role-played talk differs significantly from the actual talk it claims to mimic, which has implications for training, as well as for assessing communication skills based upon what people do in role-play.
How these impacts were achieved
The outcomes above were achieved through the publications described above, as well as through numerous invited conference papers, plenary lectures and university departmental seminars in the UK and internationally. Since the start of the follow-on funding in February 2011, I have presented over 40 such talks, including fully funded invitations from and research trips to universities across Sweden, The Netherlands, USA and UK. Since submitting the ‘End of Award’ report in November 2012, I have presented at Coventry, Uppsala (Sweden), Edinburgh, Northeastern (Boston, USA), New Hampshire (USA), and Open Universities; at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York; at the International Communication Association Conference (London) and the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group Conference (Toronto). Forthcoming talks are already scheduled for Newcastle, Lincoln, Northumbria, Northampton and Tampere (Finland) Universities; for a keynote at International Conference Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Geneva, and for the Interaction in Institutional and Non Institutional Contexts research group, based at the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo (Brazil). My inaugural lecture, delivered in March 2012 and which discussed CARM, has had the most views of any such lecture at Loughborough University. In addition, CARM has a web domain and website, which is a multi-facing source of information for academics and practitioners alike (www.carmtraining.org).
Who these findings impact
The project has many academic beneficiaries, from PhD students to experienced researchers, particularly in the field of conversation analysis. Many of the activities described above were with research groups (e.g., Anéla Study Group Discourse Analysis (AWIA) symposium in The Netherlands; a consortium of conversation analysts in north-east USA). More specifically, having trained other conversation analysts to use CARM, it has been adopted by groups of researchers in Sweden (e.g., Dr Erica Sandlund, Karlstad University, is using CARM within a project called ‘Testing Talk’, focused on second language speaking tests, offering training for teachers; Professor Anna Lindström, Uppsala University, is using CARM in a project about financial conversations at the Swedish student loans company). I have also been invited to join several funding proposals by researchers in different disciplines to incorporate CARM as an applied outcome of pure conversation analytic research. These include a successful pump-prime bid to Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust to examine police interviews with vulnerable adult victims of crime; a new grant application to ESRC on service communication between an energy company and vulnerable adults (ref. 12/13 0074), and a bid with medics to NIHR (ref. 11767) to understand decision-making between doctors and parents of terminally ill pre-term babies. I am also PI on a current ESRC Centre application (ES/L00674X/1) that will study service communication between providers and users across 40 third, public and private sector organizations, and aims to translate research findings into training interventions including CARM.
Potential future impacts
CARM is likely to achieve substantial future impact; so far, 2013 has seen a huge increase in its public visibility and demand, in part due to ‘The Life Scientific’. The programme remains available to listen to online and generates weekly emails from potential users. Potential future impacts are likely to coalesce around * trajectories. First, Loughborough University Enterprise Office, using HEIF funding, is supporting the commercialization of CARM as a not-for-profit social enterprise. It has funded a website (www.carmtraining.org) and other administrative support. I am currently bidding to this group for research assistance to enable me to develop workshops for family mediators, based on new data currently being collected. Second, since April 2013, I have charged a fee plus travel for each CARM activity, which is paid into a research code to support CARM’s development (and to work with third sector services who cannot afford large training fees). I have numerous income-generating events scheduled over the next six months. Third, I am hopeful that I may begin to make more inroads into police training, having a) been contacted by police officers following The Life Scientific and b) having started work with both Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust and the National Autistic Society on police interviews with vulnerable adults – both research projects have established access from regional police services. Fourth, I am currently a co-investigator on two other research projects which, if successful, will take CARM into commercial and medical sectors. Finally, I am PI on a large ESRC Centre grant, which, alongside colleagues with expertise in conversation analysis and numerous contacts across third, public and private sectors, includes Letters of Support from 40 Project Partners committing in-kind support for the project. If not successful, I am confident that these (and many more potential) partners will nevertheless underpin the sustainable growth of CARM.
Unexpected impacts
At the start of the project, I expected to fulfil the aims and objectives as originally set out in my application: deliver two CARM workshops to seven mediation services and police services; to a national mediation body, and to three commercial training organizations. Given the actual trajectory achieved, the project has generated many unexpected impacts. First, it was more difficult than I anticipated generating police service interest in CARM. I learned that ‘training the trainers’ would be more effective and efficient than trying to access local services, which is what I did by delivering a workshop at the National Crime Academy, and appearing on POLKA. Second, given that I focused only on community mediation services in the original project, I did not anticipate the interest from family mediators, or the generation of new research and training in that field. Third, I did not anticipate the development of CARM-Text, which has already done consultation for five different local services, a national body (Resolution) and, in the coming weeks, the Ministry of Justice. Fourth, I did not anticipate being invited to join the board of the College of Mediators or to become a figure in the national mediation industry. Fifth, I did not expect the academic interest in and demand for CARM. Being interviewed by The Psychologist led to an invitation from BBC Radio 4’s ‘Life Scientific’. Appearing on this programme generated further unexpected impact. Since June 2013, from over 150 requests for CARM, I have begun work with new users. These include research collaborations (e.g., National Autistic Society; Air Accidents Investigation Branch; Wellness Works; Association of Communication Support Workers, Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education); commercial interest (e.g., Ecobods; Elanco, Novartis Pharmaceuticals) and public engagement activity (e.g., Readers’ Digest; The Royal Institution, Tatler Magazine).
Limited scientific impacts
None.
Limited economic impacts
None.
Harvard
Stokoe, Elizabeth. Mediating and policing community disputes: Developing new methods for role-play communication skills training: ESRC Impact Report, RES-189-25-0202. Swindon: ESRC
Vancouver
Stokoe Elizabeth. Mediating and policing community disputes: Developing new methods for role-play communication skills training: ESRC Impact Report, RES-189-25-0202. Swindon: ESRC.