Doing Practitioner Research Differently

Doing Practitioner Research Differently

Doing Practitioner Research Differently

Doing Practitioner Research Differently

Synopsis

Doing Practitioner Research Differently encourages those embarking on practitioner research to consider the validity of innovative methods and styles of reporting. The book looks at three methods of enquiry and reporting - visualisation, conversation and fictional writing. Using practitioners' own accounts and research reports as case studies, this book explores the reasons why some practitioners reject the traditional research methods. It looks at the challenges faced by these practitioners and the conditions in higher education that encourage or inhibit innovative practitioner research. The case studies used illustrate that there are modes of enquiry and reporting that can foster the development of professional thinking and practice.

Excerpt

What motivates some practitioner researchers to take an unconventional, innovative direction in their research; to employ their powers of creativity in surprising ways; to think and do differently from the mainstream research they have met? This many—sided question engaged us—Marion Dadds and Susan Hart—for more than three years in the project which forms the basis of this book. It caused us to re-examine many of the assumptions underlying the learning conditions that are offered to practitioners who want to know about, and apply, research to their daily professional work. and it caused us to understand more clearly some of the drives and problems which shape the research of practitioners who choose to frame their work in a radically different way from mainstream approaches.

We had been working as higher education tutors and researchers at the Cambridge University School of Education (formerly the Cambridge Institute) for many years. Marion started her career there in 1981, Susan in 1989. Our work focused on supporting the continuing professional development of teachers and other practitioners through award-bearing courses and research projects. We shared a common interest, through our teaching and research, in methodologies that help practitioners to study and develop their work. the research project we share in this book emerged from that common interest.

The project began one afternoon when we met on the stairs in our workplace. We stopped to talk about the practitioner research studies we were currently validating for the Masters’ degree on which we both taught. There were, we both felt, some challenging, innovative research studies being submitted for validation, which were worthy of sharing with a wider audience. We were not, at this stage, explicit about the particular qualities of these studies that led us to perceive them as ‘innovative’: we were simply responding at an intuitive level to features that set them apart from the kinds of work that we were used to supervising and assessing. Despite their engaging qualities, some of these studies had taxed the academy, as they transgressed more conventional notions of research, though most were awarded high grades on the Masters’ assessment criteria. As we talked on,

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