Innovative schooling and practitioner researcher

Innovative schooling and
practitioner researcheracademic partnerships:
opportunities, challenges and
AARE symposium Tuesday 3rd December 1.30-3.30pm
Susanne Owen: chair
Michele Simons: discussant
4 papers
• Supporting practitioner research through initial training and
provision of academic critical friends (Barbara Spears,
Susanne Owen, Sarah Quinn)
• Enhanced technology skills and understandings for 21st
century pedagogies development among teaching teams
through mentoring (Carmel Taddeo, Harry Postema)
• Learning opportunities opening up through the use of digital
gaming technologies (Graham Wegner, Frank Cairns, Jenny
• The relationship between pedagogy, engagement and
literacy (Daniel Bayer, Geraldine Castleton)
15-20 mins + 5 mins questions, then general discussion
Background to practitioner-academic
research partnerships
• Emphasis on teachers researching their practice (Stenhouse,
1975; Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988; McTaggart, 1989)
• Advocates for cooperative research work between peers
(Reason, 1996; Reason, 1995; Heron & Reason 2001)
• Issues raised re time and teacher confidence
• Advocates for teachers collaborating with academics, not just
as subjects of academic research but schools identifying issues
and driving research in collaboration with academics
(Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Zeichner, 1995)
Action research
• a systematic method of inquiry by professionals to study aspects
of their own practice (Koshy, 2005)
• action research/practitioner research: study undertaken with
rigour, in order to construct a better understanding of teaching
practices, to experiment with an intervention or innovation, or to
find a practical solution to a social problem within the community
(Bargal, 2008)
• constantly refines teaching practices in context, & to understand
the beliefs, values and intentions underpinning educators’
actions in practice, to construct new knowledge and contribute to
individual and collective professional development (Kemmis, 2001;
Reason, 2008).
Practitioner research process
• starts with an everyday experience or problem (Somekh & Zeichner, 2008)
• conducted collaboratively with other colleagues, in a PLC, or in collaboration
between researchers and practitioners
• focus on participatory problem-solving to facilitate change or to evaluate
change (Bargal, 2008).
• cyclical process which moves iteratively through systematic planning, action,
observation and reflection…the practitioner collects data from within the
contextual environment, often using eclectic methods tailored to suit the
circumstances of the study (Bargal, 2008; Kemmis & McTaggart; Koshy, 2005).
• involves reflexivity to develop understanding and agency through the
critical interpretation of the social situation under inquiry, working through
solutions to problems, or evaluating the impact and effectiveness of
educational innovations (Bargal, 2008; Kemmis, 2001; Kemmis & McTaggart, 2008).
• practitioners develop research skills with researchers and colleagues, &
contributes to effectiveness of teaching and learning practices, assessment,
evaluation and innovation for the practitioner context & for wider
educational community (Bargal, 2008; Koshy, 2005).
Ways of working & benefits
• Establish ways of working together, to establish and achieve both individual and
shared research goals (Goodnough, 2004)
• Various approaches: expert-consultant; the expert-trainer; a joint learning
approach; a best practice and a theory development approach (Roper, 2009)
• Initiation of project: Practitioner initiates academic services (as in the expertconsultant-trainer approach), or academic(s) initiate a project across sites with
practitioners re focus area (leading to best practice & theory development
• Joint learning model: academic or practitioner initiation, also possible long term
interest, to build a culture and capacity for inquiry on an ongoing basis,
continually creating new knowledge and improving practice, rather than an end
product (Roper, 2009).
Produces multiple benefits (Goodnough, 2004; Gravani, 2008; Roper, 2009).
• theoretical richness of developed interventions, educational innovations and
reflective practice, as well as providing a more practical perspective for
academics (Roper, 2009)
• create stronger personal learning networks and connections in professional
learning communities for both practitioners and academics
• increased levels of empowerment and validation, as often small projects can
turn into large developments to inform educational policy or educational change
(Bargal, 2008; Gravani, 2008; Koshy, 2005; Somekh & Zeichner, 2008).
Issues and challenges
• possible methodological issues if overly complicated or using quantitative methodologies
(Roper, 2009).
• can undermine trust in the partnership and the reliability and usability of the research
• for practitioners, understanding analysis processes and how findings have been
determined are pivotal to their usefulness and reuse in future research projects (Bargal,
2008; Roper, 2009).
• divide between the intellectual approaches of practitioners and academics, with
practitioners favouring practical knowledge and academics a more theoretical position
(Goodnough, 2004; Gravani, 2008; Roper, 2009) can result in a discourse mismatch and
discrepancies in the identification of the research interest and the knowledge that will be
the outcome of the project (Roper, 2009).
practitioner’s interest to produce actionable knowledge that will be of benefit to them
and their school context (Gravani, 2008) v academics’ interests to further theoretical
knowledge, which is not easily applicable to the real life of classroom practice.
• relationships can be hierarchical ..Gravani (2008) and Roper (2009)
• can be tensions due to different ways of thinking: academic as an authoritative expert and
practitioners as a novice. Or can be overdependence or overprotectiveness of projects
(Roper, 2009).
Bargal, D. 2008. Action Research: A paradigm for achieving social change, Small Group Research, 39:1,
17-27. DOI:10.1177/1046496407313407
Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. 2009. Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Gravani, M. 2008. Academics and practitioners: Partners in generating knowledge or citizens of two
different worlds?, Teaching and Teacher Education, 24:3, 649-659. DOI:
Heron, J. 1996. Cooperative Inquiry: Research into the human condition. London: Sage.
Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R. 2000. Participatory Action Research, in Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (eds),
Handbook of Qualitative Research, p. 567-605, Sage Publications: London
Kemmis, S. 2001. Educational research and evaluation: Opening communicative space. The
Australian Educational Researcher, 28(1), 1-30.
McTaggart, R. 1989. Principles for participatory action research. Paper presented to the Ber
EncuentroMundial Investigation ParticiparivaManigua, Nicaragua. 83-92.
Reason, P. 1995. Participation in Human Inquiry. London: Sage.
Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. 2008. The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. SAGE Publications: London.
Roper, L. 2002. Achieving successful academic-practitioner research collaborations, Development in
Practice, 12:3-4, 338-345. DOI: 10.1080/0961450220149717.
Somekh, B. & Zeichner, K. 2009. Action Research for educational reform: remodelling action research
theories and practices in local contexts, Educational Action Research, 17:1, 5-21.
Stenhouse, L. 1975.An Introduction of Curriculum Research and Development,
London: Heineman.

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