Innovative schooling and practitioner researcheracademic partnerships: opportunities, challenges and learnings 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 Barnett) • 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 approach). • 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 findings. • 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). References 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2007.09.008. 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. DOI:10.1080/09650790802667402 Stenhouse, L. 1975.An Introduction of Curriculum Research and Development, London: Heineman.