Due to the ongoing disruption that we are all experiencing, I almost let the start of my final year of my EngD slip by unnoticed. Where did the first three years of my course go?! It sounds surreal to say it, but I just want to acknowledge that I now have fewer than twelve months remaining to complete my doctorate. As such, I feel it is a good time to take stock of what I have recently achieved and what remains to be completed.
The Past Few Months
My reticence over the past few months has been due to a mixture of low energy, lack of motivation, and a flurry of other commitments. However, I have been quietly working away since announcing my online survey, and have submitted two papers for review. Most of August was taken up by data collection and analysis, followed by writing and submitting the papers up until mid-September. This output is a result of the flexibility shown by myself and my supervisors, since we only started planning this online survey in April. I am very proud of the progress I have been able to make and the creativity with which I have approached planning and developing the survey.
Since the deadline for the paper submission, though, I have felt a bit 'stuck'. I have been involved in a range of extra-curricular activities throughout September and October that acted as distractions and I have not felt I have been working productively at all. I have been told that this is quite common after completing a large piece of work like writing a paper and, in hindsight, I think I needed this time to let my thoughts settle before zooming back out and thinking about the arc of my research project as a whole. After a 'kick off meeting' with my supervisors earlier this week, I now feel ready to approach my final year with a new-found clarity and plenty of enthusiasm.
The focus of my final year will be on collecting data about how people living with dementia interpret augmented reality (AR) prompts. Unfortunately, my original plans of testing AR in-person with people living with dementia are unlikely to be possible in the time I have remaining. Instead, I must shift my focus to validating the results of my previous work (involving people without dementia) with people living with dementia. I will also ask carers for their perspectives on what might work well (or not) for someone with dementia and why they think this.
This will be achieved through online interviews with people living with dementia and their carers. I will share videos of AR prompts from my earlier studies and ask them to describe what they see, what they think it means, and what they like and do not like about the prompts. By conducting these online interviews I hope to tie together all of the learnings about AR prompts that I have gained over the past two years, in order to create a holistic picture of which AR prompts are most effective for people living with dementia.
All of my efforts to date have been building up to this opportunity to explore AR prompts with people living with dementia in a formal research study. I am looking forward to engaging with more people living with dementia and their carers during my final year and will share my progress here in the coming months.