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Activating research through practice

March 26th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This is just a short post with some thoughts about a paper I have been asked to write for the Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research. The working title is Learning and Teaching in Context… with a little help from the web

With it I aim to explore how the social help can help educators and learners to experiment teaching and learning through contexts that the classroom is unable to provide. I am using examples of my own practice as a teacher to support this. And one of my main arguments is that the social web is a place for innovation of practices, for the invention of contexts that aim to stimulate new forms of (lifelong) learning. The skills acquired, the networks that are formed, the knowledge that is created, and the way people are enabled to learn can be transferred to other situations and experiences. All it takes is to believe this is possible. Thus it is important that educators experiment that for themselves so they can perceive its true benefit.  (yes, I know, I have said this many times over…!).

Hence, there is a need to make research “real” to practitioners, at the same time that it is crucial that practice informs new research.

Berni's slide: research must be ...

For some time now I have been looking at action research as a methodology that enables to connect research with practice and vice-versa. This is a much needed approach in our changing society. It is necessary to understand how practitioners are changing practices, or if they are not, why that is so. There is also a screaming need to test new ideas… and in talks with my dear friend Dr Sakina Baharom I also found Design Based Research: an emergent research methodology that has a specific  focus on establishing partnerships between researchers and practitioners with the main goal of developing innovative practices.

During the DIALOGUE symposium these methodologies were not forgotten. Professor Hiller talked about the need to promote reflective practice and enable the translation of tacit knowledge into more explicit one.

Another Speaker, Berni Brady, Director of AONTAS, also made good points regarding what research should be:

  • Relevant
  • Accessible
  • Informative
  • Exploratory
  • Useful

This, to me, comes to justify the need to a more pragmatic view of what research should be and what it should serve: Practice. This again, takes me back to Professor Anderson’s concept of the university as a place of useful learning.

As I am writing this paper, I am looking  for more examples of how people have used action research/ DBR to change, improve, transform… their practices. If you have some examples, please share them with me .

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