Saturday, December 8, 2012

A book for all stages: a review of Building in Research and Evaluation: Human Inquiry for Living Systems

In this post, Dian Chase, a PhD Candidate at Oregon Health and Science University, reviews Dr. Yoland Wadsworth's book, Building in Research and Evaluation: Human Inquiry for Living Systems.

 Yoland Wadsworth (2010).  Building in research and evaluation: human inquiry for living systems.  Action Research Press, Hawthorn and Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

What questions do you have about participatory research?  As a student, researcher and teacher, I have many.  From the why to the wherefore, from abstract to the concrete, Dr. Wadsworth’s book provides insights and answers.  This is a book with many purposes.  Bringing together concepts from systems theory, traditional inquiry, organizational behavior, and quality improvement, this book provides an intellectual basis for action resource.  Using metaphor (the inquiry cycle as a house was especially apt), checklists, and concrete examples, the concepts are accessible and useful for students, researchers and instructors.  And by her evident passion for working with, rather than on, people, Dr. Wadsworth reminds us of our motivation to pursue this work.
Like a map, this book provides a road map for meaningful inquiry; like a mirror, it reminds us of the need to build time for reflection into our planning rather than proceeding blindly down a pathway.  From that reflection, we draw insights that guide our actions.  By asking questions, we can broaden our insights and include others in our journey.  By focusing on fixing problems, we often create other problems.  By understanding the processes, we can create change that is meaningful and lasting.  This book is a guide to doing just that.
This book will be useful to me in many ways.  As a student, it helps tie together concepts and provide a framework for understanding.  As a researcher, the reminders, checklists and conceptual cycles (would that things would ever go linearly) provide touchstones for where my focus should be.  And as a teacher, the examples will help me make participatory research come alive.  It will have a place on my desk, rather than my bookshelf – a work for all stages of growth rather than a one time read.
Dian Chase

You can get more information about Dr. Wadsworth's book at the book's website. This book can be found in Europe,  UK, USA, and the Middle East at the publisher's site right here and in Australia, NZ, and Asia from the publisher at this link.  We'd be interested to hear your thoughts and comments as well!

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