Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reflections on 2010 and Hopes for 2011 posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

When I think back on my year in Action Research the common theme is my deep gratitude for the opportunies for community and collaboration the year brought. This speaks to what I consider one of the fundamental values that underlie our practice—the notion that working together we learn more, accomplish more, and grow closer to one another. There are so many examples of how the value and values of collaboration have touched my life this year, but I will focus on five experiences that are especially meaningful to me because of the opportunity they each gave me to deepen my own learning and to develop new and nuture existing friendships.

I begin by thanking my students. My current and past students are some of the major contributors to this blog, they are the energy behind the Action Research Center, and they continue to inspire and amaze me year after year. In December the students in my Action Research course presented on the first-person action research projects they had conducted in which they each examined the ways in which their own value system is expressed through their practice. Each and every one of these presentations was a unique and beautifully crafted expression of the kind of reflection, creativity, and openness to new learning that should be at the heart of all Action Research. I am eager to get back to them to see where our work together takes us from here!

I also want to thank my colleagues at Harmony Garden, the girls health and wellness program I work with in Cincinnati, and in particular to the members of the Community Resident Research Team, who are not only my friends, but my teachers. I am privileged to have been invited to join the Board of Directors of this phenomenal organization this year and look forward to continuing to see their work create positive change in the city of Cincinnati and beyond.

Over the past year I’ve also had the opportunity work with my colleagues Ariane Berthoin Antal, Patricia Gayá Wicks, and Victor Friedman on editing a Special Issue of Action Research devoted to Arts and Action Research. You’ll be hearing from them and from the wonderful authors who have contributed to this project over the next couple of months, but I wanted to thank them all here for the thoughtful way in which they each contributed to nurturing this project—one that I feel makes a remarkable contribution to our understanding of the ways in which the arts can inform, infuse, and reframe our understanding of AR.

And finally, I think about the members of the Swedish Action Research Consortium I met with in Runö, Sweden this Fall and all the fellow action researchers at this year’s World Congress of Action Research in Melbourne in August.

Action Research is a global community of committed individuals who care deeply addressing some of the most pressing problems facing our world today. I look forward to 2011 and to the new opportunities this year will bring to all of us to continue to work together. Thanks to you all!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From the desk of the editor:A new review process

In issue 8(4) of ARJ we have the first of a new review format.  It strikes me that a great way to share news of new publications in the field of action research is to post a short review on the blog.  More formal reviews, however, will be picked up by the journal.
Dr. Donna Ladkin starts us off with a review in ARJ of Olav Eikeland’s work on Aristotle.  Beyond being readable and insightful, Donna offers a model for the new reviews the journal will offer.   This also signals the upcoming finale to the extensive digests of new action research related publications that Bob Dick has offered since the start of the journal. I am very sad to see Bob Dick retire from his position as reviewer of all things action research.  Bob’s reviews have informed my own reading over the past few years (if Bob recommended it, I read it).  I know that his column was very popular judged by the number of times they were downloaded.  We will truly miss Bob.  I am, however, happy to say that Bob has agreed to be interviewed so that he does not leave without us taking to opportunity to pick his encyclopedic brain on action research.  The interview will be published in ARJ. And as Donna’s review shows, we may have a very different but equally informative review process coming on line.  I thank Dr. Patricia Gaya Wicks and her colleagues from the associate editor board for helping us design the new review process.  May it flourish and meet the demands of our readers.

Warm regards,
Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Editor in Chief

Saturday, December 4, 2010

From the Editor's desk: Esther Prins on participatory photography

Last of the new papers to be introduced from the upcoming ARJ, issue 8(4) ...

Esther Prins from The Pennsylvania State University writes about the use of participatory photography. Esther’s article examines the unanticipated problems the author and participants encountered when encouraging the stakeholders in their work to use photography as a way to represent their world. The surprise was at how much suspicion, timidity, and ridicule the practice engendered. This article elucidates how historical and socio-cultural factors structured learners’ and community residents’ responses to photography. Theoretically she draws on Foucault’s analysis of surveillance and power, to argue that photography is a technology with contradictory potential for social control and surveillance. This forms the basis for thinking trough how to recovery marginalized groups’ subjugated knowledge..

From the point of view of growing to scale, Esther’s work is also in the category of “how to do action research.” We may be surprised to learn that technology as “simple” as the camera (simple, that is, by the standards of the university based researcher) can evoke unanticipated reaction and consequences. True to the spirit of good inquiry, Esther makes lemonade from the lemons (how many, perhaps especially novice action researchers, might have simply slipped away?!). Beyond mere perseverance, Esther’s contribution to theory is helpful to the larger community. And from a practical standpoint, her work offers an opportunity for vicarious apprenticeship. Please find her work: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/10/1476750310374502.abstract

Warm regards,

Hilary Bradbury-Huang
Editor in Chief

Saturday, November 27, 2010

From the Editors Desk: Feeling Exposed and Rudderless. Colleagues from Teachers College reflect on struggles of action research

Next in my short series of introductions to upcoming publications in ARJ ... in which I also add some reflections on what I see as implications for the work described coming to scale:

Laura Smith and colleagues from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA, Lucinda Bratini, Debbie-Ann Chambers, Russell Vance Jensen and LeLaina Romero bring a window to the awkward difficulty that university-based researchers experience when doing action research – they/ we often feel exposed and rudderless. By examining episodes from three different PAR projects they illustrate challenges as well as what can be learned from them, especially by university based researchers.
From the point of view of growing to scale, Laura’s and her colleagues’ work is in the category of “how to do action research.” On the editorial board we have been very attentive to making such articles available. We recognize that it is not obvious how to do participatory work, especially given the conventional training that graduate students receive. And to be honest the work is not easy, it is multidimensional. Novice action researchers ideally have apprenticeship and practice opportunities. For those who can’t immediately locate a mentor, we hope that such articles help fill the gap. Please find their work: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/28/1476750310366043.abstract

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scientific - Spiritual Cosmology - Alan Wight

For my AR class, I have been asked to describe the values that inform my research.  I am firmly rooted in a scientific-spiritual understanding of the universe.  Bradbury and Reason (2001) provide an excellent introduction to this point of view in their "On the nature of the given cosmos" (p. 8).  Please a take a moment to view the linked video below, and the read the accompanying words.

Biopolitan Poetry for creating an Earth-Centered Consciousness.

Cat's Eye Nebula
And the universe asks---what are you compared to me?
Dude, I am you!  Our human consciousness formed from you.  We are one version of your awareness, privileged to reflect back upon this great mystery.

I am humbled by the awesomeness, the grandeur, the scale, the age, the beauty, the violence, and the astonishing---mind blowing distance of our every expanding reality.  The cosmic elements collected and as our star gathered enough mass fusion burst forth, and photons of light energy exploded in all directions.

Eventually the Earth gave birth, and now we can see,
and taste, and touch, and feel and breath. 

It is from this spiritual and scientific understanding that I approach the world. This humility transforms into the highest respect for Gaia, our planetary emissary.  We are one of many forms of Gaia’s awareness.  We exist here because we coexist with everything else on Earth.

Sun's Radiation and the Earth's Magnetic Field (artists interpretation)

A step back reveals the potential precariousness of our current endeavors.  The mad ambitions for money, parceled out-private property, power, domination, and control.  These are the cultural values repeatedly whispered and extolled.

Our economic practices and actions do not reflect the reality of our biosphere, of this larger living entity.  
The expansionist, Promethean, Frontierist, planet – plundering mentality is insane.

Therefore, I actively embrace alternative Earth-Centered paradigms.  From the cosmopolitan, and declaration of ‘citizen of the world’ I advance the key value that informs my thoughts and research. 

This is the concept of biopolitansim: the identification of humans as one life form, one culture, one group of earthlings among many; we are a human community that only exists because of all the other Earth’s communities.  We need to respect and protect all other species and ecosystems and foster an appreciation for other ways of knowing.

It is the values of this Earth-Life-Community Ethic that I heed, and from here, from this moral point that I proceed.

Peter Reason and Hililary Bradbury-Huang (Eds).  2006.  "On the nature of the given cosmos."  Handbook of Action Research.   p. 8  Los Angles: Sage Publishing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

From the desk of the editor: Ngwerume & Themessl-Huber on Healthcare/CBPR

Over the course of a few weeks I am introducing new papers being published by the journal. By way of bringing alive the concept of designing action research for scale, I will also reflect on how to “grow” the projects reported or what the implications to a wider audience may be if the work were continued.

Karebor Tuhaise Ngwerume from Brocklehurst Chemist, Hull, UK and Markus Themessl-Huber of Central Queensland University, Australia share their action research work which developed among a community pharmacy team. The pharmacy team started by reflecting on their own practice and in doing so examined the reliability of the evidence base they used to give advice to customers regarding the sale of medicines. This process resulted in the development of portfolios of evidence-based counter recommendations and a more knowledgeable, self-aware, confident as well as research-aware pharmacy team.

From the point of view of growing to scale, Karebor’s and Markus’ work also helps build the rapidly increasing repository of CBPR studies. The call to be “evidence based” is not so simple to implement – turns out that only half of all medicines and procedures prescribed are in fact evidence based. The intervention that the pharmacy team successfully undertook was, in fact, a microcosm of the type of culture shift happening in healthcare delivery institutions. There will be more and intense interest on such CPBR studies, in aggregate. Calling all graduate students: clearly metastudies of many CPBR studies are needed. Please find their work: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/28/1476750310366042.abstract

Warm regards,

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Editor in Chief

Monday, November 15, 2010

Working out Inside: First Person Action Research - Alan Wight

I have been thinking about the consequences of working out (exercising) indoors ever since our campus opened up a state-of-the-art recreation center almost 5 years ago.  Two indoor pools, a hot tub, at least 6 basketball courts, an elevated track, a climbing wall, rooms upon rooms of lifting equipment, free weights, exercise machines, step-aerobic class rooms, spinning bikes, treadmills, stationary bikes, and a variety of elliptical machines.  It is wonderful to have all of these resources dedicated to helping our community members stay physically fit.  Personally, I use the Olympic swimming pool, the free weights, and the elliptical machines the most.  I can workout when the weather is cold, icy, and uninviting.  I can bring a book and watch TV while using the cardio machines.  Working out has never been so comfortable.  There is however, an incredible irony with this set up. 

By using first person Action Research, self-reflective inquiry practices, and critical autoethnography I am able to examine my everyday actions in light of the values I espouse (i.e. environmentalist, Earth centered ethics, social justice, etc). Judi Marshall (2001) talks about “inquiry as life process,” where thoughts and actions become research, with inquiry is at the core of our being (p. 341).  Simply put, it is important to be aware and reflective about how our daily actions affect the earth.

When I use the recreation facility, I consume energy (especially on the exercise machines) by working out inside when an outdoor run or bike could have served the same purpose without using electricity.  Here I am, trying to maintain a healthy body, achieve a good balance between the other important aspects of my life (intellectually, spiritually, dietary, interpersonal relationships, etc), when I am actually harming the planet.  This is contradictory.  I should not use fossil fuel energy in the quest for personal health.  When we ride bikes, run, walk, or engage in cardiovascular exercise outside, we do not generate negative externalities in that specific process.  We should strive to better our health, but not at the expense of the biosphere.

Marshall, Judi.  2001.  “Self-reflective Inquiry Practices.”  Handbook of Action Research.  Peter Reason and Hillary Bradbury-Huang (Eds). 2008. pp 335 – 342.  Los Angles: Sage Publishing. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

From the desk of the editor: Introducing Gaby Jacobs on healthcare community-based participatory action research (CBPR) project

Last week I wrote about politics of influence and designing for scale with our action research.  Over the next few weeks I will introduce new papers being published by the journal. By way of application of this concept of scale I will also reflect on how to “grow” the projects or reflect on what the project might imply at a "higher" level of influence.

Gaby Jacobs of Fontys University for Applied Sciences, The Netherlands writes from a context of a community-based participatory action research (CBPR) project entitled ‘Aspiring to Healthy Living in The Netherlands.’ The goal of the action research is to empower older people and generally to encourage healthy aging. The research, to be shared with audiences beyond the local stakeholders, draws from analyzing narratives from the participants. The focus of the article was on how academic and practical aims goals collide in CBPR. The contribution, using the ladder of Pretty, highlights different levels of participation in different project stages. Using theory of organizational learning, the paper offers insights for other teams to support consciously attending to keeping reflection and learning going within a context of external pressure.

From the point of view of growing to scale, Gaby’s work helps build the rapidly increasing repository of Healthcare/CBPR studies. This is important given that all over the Northern Hemisphere we grapple with how to transform a healthcare system for an aging population without bankrupting our economies. We expect more and intense interest in CPBR studies. Calling all graduate students: clearly metastudies of many studies, similar to Gaby’s are needed. Please find her work: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/30/1476750310366041.abstract

And next week ... CBPR with pharmacists.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

From the desk of the editor: Politics, seeking scale and influence in AR.

Perhaps because it was election campaign season recently, I found myself at dinner with our state legislator, along with a dozen or so university colleagues. We talked about how to better influence state policy with research. The senator, an economist by training, emphasized the importance of researchers attending senate sessions and presenting our work on a topic the senate is taking up. The efficient scenario, according to the known model, is for researchers to be invited to address legislators. This assumes that their work is known to the senators. This being a democracy (or at least an ongoing attempt in that direction), public sessions also allow for self introductions. The core of the legislator’s invitation was that we prepare to offer testimony backed up by rigorous statistics. In turn legislators vote and in time (with the many intervening and politicized details to be determined!), laws would be passed to improve life for citizens. The action research model of influencing policy is worth reflecting on explicitly. It is also scientific (we investigate empirically) even if we treat issues of validity differently and with transparency. I won’t recap the thinking on this topic, but suffice it to say action researchers don’t conflate quality with conventional measures of generalizability. We measure quality as ‘actionability” which grows from partnership, practicality, rigorous methods and attention to infrastructure that sustains work over time.

So then, how does an action researcher influence government policy? Certainly the element of designing infrastructure that sustains work over time might potentially also embrace inquiry into creating enduring impact through policy. Simply stated, action researchers should consider when to plan for representation from a community of stakeholders who might have policy implications. Such policy implications would be articulated from the reflections on having implemented an experimental, successful intervention. The policy guru will naturally ask “how is this not advocacy?” And while much has also been written about the ways un which al “objective science’ is also partial in a postmodern world, the better response, may be to describe the ways in which the policy implications are grounded in empirical investigation that has cycled through inquiry and action, validated with stakeholders throughout the process. The quality of the implications resides the quality of the partnership and having meet practical objectives throughout the intervention process. Needless to say, but worth repeating anyway, qualitative and quantitative methodological rigors are adhered to in action research as appropriate to the research design. Scale therefore is not reached by reporting on statistics. Scale is reached by representatives of a community who experimented together sharing their insights. Clearly not all reports are worthy of legislators’ time. But some, especially those action research implications that were developed over time and in different contexts, are indeed worthwhile. I hypothesize that action research reports –when made by community representatives directly-- are more digestible, useful – actionable! – for the typical politician than are reams of rigorous numbers. Having been involved with local politics myself, when chairing meetings I was so often astonished how substance takes a back seat to impactful presentations made by concerned citizens at the right time. Because politics and dynamics of power are core to the work of action research, I invite more accounts that follow community interventions to the level of scale, this is a call then for accounts of how scale was reached, or designed to be reached, via formal political channels.

Next week I will introduce our soon to be published papers. I will reflect on them from the pespective taken in this blog post, namely what they suggest for moving toward scale. 
Best wishes,
Hilary Bradbury Huang
Editor in Chief

Saturday, October 30, 2010

From the ARJ Editors' desk: “Network Research with Action Research

This saturday, I want to draw attention to Steve Waddell’s work. Steve, both an entrepreneur, PhD in sociology and principal of “Networking Action,” has been at the forefront of thinking/practicing through inter-networked communities of networks.  In this simultaneously simple yet complex networked organizational form, the real work happens at the front lines. Resources and strategic thinking, however, can be informed at the “hub” of the shared communities.  This is both efficient (always important, now more than ever) and it allows for the all important “weak ties” to grow. Weak tie theory, in a nutshell, suggests that people who have many “weak” connections outside their home base of "strong" ties or relationships can best allow for innovation and development into new areas because they can reach into resources – along the chain of weak ties - more quickly.   But read Steve directly! And because this week’s blog from Steve is called “Getting More through Network Research with Action Research” – how can I resist bringing it to the ARJ community.  Best wishes to Steve! 

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
ARJ Editor in Chief.
Portland, Ore

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cooper: Inviting students into the research circle in ESL classrooms - Adam Cooper, Guest Blogger

Adam Cooper recently presented at the MWERA conference in Columbus, Ohio and he had some interesting things to say regarding AR in the classroom. His call to invite students to participate as more active members of research circles, rather than "token members" challenges the comfort zone of those educators less experienced in classroom action research; but listening to his argument I can see only positive and dramatic changes in ESL classrooms possible. Adam has given me permission to post a short excerpt from his paper presentation which is published in the MWERA conference program. You can reach Adam at acooperca@gmail.com and if you have an idea for a posting or would like to write about your experiences using AR in classroom, email me at Dusty.Embury@EKU.edu.

Scholarly calls to invite action research (AR) into the language classroom abound (Burns, 1999; Crookes, 2003; Crookes, 1993; Kumaravadivelu, 2001), resulting in successful formulations of instruction for foreign language study (Crookes & Chandler, 2001), English as a Foreign Language in postsecondary programs (Thorne & Qiang, 1996;), and English as a Second Language in secondary settings. Indeed, collaborative inquiry has long been a means for refining practice according to traditions in Japanese Lesson Study (Fernandez, Cannon, & Chokshi, 2003). The dynamic ability for action research to affect positive changes in the classroom, however, is evident in the quick transition it has made from a primary focus on teacher practice to an added focus on increasing opportunities for disengaged students (Atweh, 2003; Bland & Atweh, 2007; Mitra, 2006; O’Brien & Moules, 2007), for student learning (Nunan, 2002), and for school reform (Fielding, 2001; Leitch, Gardner, Mitchell, Lundy, Odena, Galanouli, et al., 2007). With the proliferation of AR among teachers, administrators, and students, there are still little, if any, attempts to convene these efforts into parallel investigations that can inform and assist one another in their distinct objectives.

Although students-as-researchers efforts are designed to strengthen student voice in schools, learners are rarely given the opportunity to use these efforts in order to make important structural, procedural, or pedagogical decisions at the school. Admittedly, impressive efforts are made to train and support students in data collection, but too often, research design is left to the educators, as is the task of drawing conclusions and articulating implications. This token involvement jeopardizes the same student engagement educators wish to incite with this approach (Fielding 2004a, 2004b, 2007). When incorporated into a curriculum effectively, motivation among previously disengaged students can improve (Oldfather, 2002; Rogers, Morrell & Enyede, 2007), and instruction can change to better meet the needs of the students (SooHoo, 1993).

By incorporating a dual role for teachers’ action research circles and those for students in one given classroom, ESL programs can support the pedagogical needs of mainstream content teachers, as suggested by Pawan (2008). Additionally, all students, whether they are native speakers of English or second language learners, can then address Duff’s(2001) concerns regarding ELLs’ limited opportunities to communicate in classes dominated by native speakers who have long been enmeshed in American popular culture. Because this collaborative methodology honors the knowledge base of all participants, it could create the space that would allow these previously silenced students to participate more fully in learning activities, contribute more meaningfully to teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, and influence the communities that factor into their education.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Brief Pause to Consider Confucius posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

I want to pause in my examination of the structured ethical reflection to offer my sincere thanks to Juanjuan Zhao for giving me the opportunity to read and discuss the connections between Confucius and Action Research. Thanks, too, to John Elliot and Ching-tien Tsai for their insightful examination of this topic.

"Learning without thought is pointless.  Thought without learning is dangerous"  Confucius (The Analects of Confucius, Book 2, Passage 15).

"Master Zeng said, each day I examine myself on three maters.  In making plans for others, am I being loyal to them?  In my dealings with friends, am I being trustworty? Am I passing on to others what I have not carefully thought about myself?" (The Analects of Confucius, Book 1, Passage 4)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Critical Questions—Constructing Research Questions posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

After months of serving as a volunteer van driver for the local Independent Living Center, conducting interviews with individuals with disabilities, and organizing a community group interested in working together to increase architectural accessibility, we were ready to “go live” at a meeting called to construct a focus for our first advocacy project.  I came to that meeting with a terrific idea!  Wouldn’t it be great to have a Town Hall style meeting, inviting local and state politicians to meet with us to discuss the importance of increased accessibility?  WRONG!  The other members of the group made it quite clear that this wasn’t what they wanted to do.  They discussed their issues and concerns and decided that working to make the local shopping mall more accessible would be our focus.  I don’t know how obvious my disappointment was, but I do know that I had the good sense to shut my mouth and listen to my community partners. And they were absolutely right.  This was before national legislation mandating architectural access and in a part of the country where winters are harsh and make mobility difficult for an individual using a wheelchair.  Being able to visit and move around a large public space like a shopping mall allows an opportunity to get out and socialize during the long months when snow and ice make it impossible for those using a wheelchair to navigate on the sidewalks and streets of the community.   

We learned about the state architectural barriers code, filed complaints, attended hearings in Boston and after many months (actually a few years!), we won a State Supreme Court case forcing the owners of the local shopping mall to install a wheelchair accessible elevator.  This lesson in listening to people to who know more than I do has stayed with me over the past twenty five years as an action researcher. 

So here are some questions to ask yourself as an action researcher as you begin to work with your community partners to construct a meaningful research question:

Beneficence:  What direct benefits will studying this question have for the members of your group?
Justice:  Will studying this question contribute to positive social change and greater social justice?
Respect:  How does the process of constructing your research question demonstrate your respect for your community partners and their knowledge?
Transparency:   Is the process of creating your research question open and clear to all participants?
Democratic Practice:  How have you insured that all of your community partners have an opportunity to contribute to the process of identifying and deciding upon a meaningful research question?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hebron Market Place: Part 2 - Dr. Stephen Kroeger

Today's posting is the second writing in a series by action researcher, Dr. Stephen Kroeger, introducing some of his experiences from a recent trip to Palestine to begin action research with school teachers there. Steve's first post (August 17, 2010)  began with a scene at the turnstile gates of the Hebron Market. Here in this market area the Isaraeli's and Palestinians may live closely together, but the divide continues to be great as Steve describes with his art and words.

The words and art below are Steve's and both are used with permission. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave them! If you have an idea for or would like to write a response to any of educational action research topics you read here, please email me at: Dusty.Embury@EKU.edu.  Peace, Dusty

© 2010, Original art work by Stephen D. Kroeger, used with permission

This is a second installment about my recent visit to the West Bank (July 2010). On one end of the Hebron market place were the turn stile gates (see August 17th Blog). At the other end of the market was this scene. A gentleman, a Muslim, approached a group of us and explained that this was once one of the largest markets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It used to be a big and open area just behind the wall. “There were a lot of shops. They shut it down. They built a settlement, and if you see these two floors you can tell the old building from the new building. They built another floor on top which is not their property. If you stretch a little bit down here I am going to show you the door or the exit, a small channel, it used to take us to the other market. It used to be so active down here, one of the best markets in the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
The man moves a bit further down and invited us to come with him to see a sealed up passage way. Our guide asked if we needed to depart. She explained to the man that she had been here before. The man replies, “I know love, I just want to show him and to show you. Even Europeans on Saturday, they come here and the do a big demonstration, asking them (the settlers) to leave the area. They (the settlers) thrown eggs on my stuff. I’m gonna’ show you a lot of shells, as a witness; I’m not going to sell them to friends like you, people who are on our side, who are supporting us. It just a little bit.”
 “My shop is in the corner here. You won’t walk more than 20 meters.” As we walk further into the market we pass under the fencing that is acting as a net. A member of our group asked, “Is that garbage?” In the nets above us, were piles of rotting garbage that had been thrown out of the settlers windows above.
“Yes, but let me show you this small channel.” The man pointed to a concrete sealed doorway. “They blocked it with concrete. You can tell. It used to take us to the other market.” Then pointing as if we could see through the concrete with our imaginations he continued, “And on our right hand side, when I used to be a little kid, I used to go up to these two floors on the stairs just behind the shops. If you step here,” the man moves a few steps further into the market, “The Israeli army is protecting them (the settlers) in the tower day and night, 24 hours.” Walking a few more steps further he says, “If you stand here, you can see another tower on the other side. And here are the eggs as a witness.”
Turning to look at our guide he says, “Honestly, I swear on my life, I am telling you the truth. The other day, during a demonstration of the Europeans, they (the settlers) were throwing eggs on my stuff.” Reaching up he pulled his textile back to show us the egg stains on his materials. “I am not selling the stuff, but keeping them to show them to the people who care about us. The way they treat us, they treat us like a bunch of animals, not like human beings at all, not a kind of respect. They are trying hard, in a way, to kick us outside here. We are determined to stay. We are not going to give up as long as we live because this is our homeland.”

What was this gentleman trying to help us understand? The Palestinian economy is being strangled by the heavy restrictions placed on the markets and people’s physical movement. All movement is under surveillance. Movement is controlled through multiple check points. We were unable to see what was happening. What we saw had to be interpreted and explained. Violence is woven into the fabric of the culture and life of the people – violence is rooted in the claims on the land.

What do I want you to know from this experience? Something profoundly unjust is occurring. These occurrences are partially funded by our tax dollars. Simply learning more about this situation is an act of resistance. We are linked to these experiences.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Voice of the Editor: Reflecting on Yoland Wadsworth's work

Part of the fun of being editor is that people send their books my way -- and I usually send them to Bob Dick who offers a book review reflecting over many months' worth of publications in the action research "space." But I also take a peek (of course!)

And indeed Yoland Wadsworth has just sent me two papers that presaged her new magnum opus (to use Michael Quinn Patton's term in the Foreword) -- which is on its way by mail. She sent them to me just before the start of the world congress of action learning and action research being held this year in Australia (which includes her giving a keynote) ...thanks Yoland!

I had not been aware of how much the typology of the Jungian Myers Briggs informs Yoland's work in her 'take' on systemic inquiry processes – which she presents as 'writ small' in the human person. It seems quite timely to me that a more human-centered - which necessarily means individual-centered - approach come back to join 'the social' in the systems approach to systems change that informs the work of so many of us... thank you Yoland for spending so much mindspace on articulating this so well. And good luck with your keynote!

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Editor ARJ
Portland, OR

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Voice of the Editor--Special Issues in the works

Much of the associate editors' attention goes to developing special issues. As a result we have some great special issues in the works... e.g., Mary Brydon Miller with Patricia Gaya Wicks and Victor Friedman have come a long way toward the finish line with the "Action Research and the Arts Special Issue." This is the first time that a SI - or any issue - will make extensive use of the ARJ website - where artwork can be posted that otherwise would not fit in the regular journal issue. We are excited about the innovation this portends.
Patricia Gaya Wicks is also leading the development of a special issue on "Crafting Action Research as Thesis/Dissertation." The international special issue team that Patch has called together is about to get busy soon as the deadline they set is fast approaching.

Marianne Kristiansen is heading up a special issue on Power and Action Research. Many of us are drawn to AR, it seems to me, because we work a little unconventionally within organizational power dynamics. I am therefore intrigued to see what will manifest in this SI. Marianne's editorial team includes action researchers from the Southern Hemisphere whose Marxian and Frerian roots will doubtlessly make their perspective quite different from the more dialogue oriented North.
And we have an SI led entirely by guest editors with little previous connection to the editorial board of ARJ. Sue Oreszczyn & Les Levidow of the open university in the UK are leading a SI on Civil society research for sustainable development. Best wishes to them. We look forward to working in partnership with them so that we all learn together how to make the ARJ process work for invited lead guest editors also.
I will end with an invitation that you either consider contributing to a special issue or simply watching out for these in the months to come!
Hilary Bradbury-Huang, ARJ Editor.
Portland, OR.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update from the World Congress of Action Research posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

Just back from Melbourne and the World Congress of Action Research.

Me and my canine friend Lucy at a beachbox on Brighton Beach

The Melbourne Skyline

Robin McTaggart and Jacques Boulet at the World Congress

I can’t possibly do justice here to all of the brillant work that was presented and will hope to be able to invite some of the folks I heard speak to post to the blog themselves over the next few weeks, but highlights from the event included Budd Hall’s address on the knowledge democracy movement, Yoland Wadworth’s book launch, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s presentation on Māori methodology and her search for decolonizing methodologies. I’ve always really admired Smith’s work and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear her speak. Marie Brennan’s talk was also an amazing analysis of neoliberalism and education.

David Coghlan, Pat Maguire, Rosalie Holian and I had a session on ethics and action research in which we discussed the ways in which covenantal ethics and the model I dicussed in the blog earlier could be applied to insider action research, teacher action research, and community-based action research. I especially appreciated the discussion that followed our presentations and the feedback we received from those attending the session, which will certainly inform the next iteration of this idea.

We also had a session on global networking in which we presented a first draft map of action research sites around the world and shared this blog site with everyone! We’ll post the map to the blog as soon as we get it updated with all the sites we gathered from folks at the WC. You’ll be amazed to see the diversity of sites from all around the world engaged in various forms of action research…it’s really inspiring!

But of course the best part of such events is always seeing old friends and meeting new ones and the four days were filled with such moments. It was wonderful to see everyone and thanks to Jacques, Mish, Meg and all the other folks at Borderlands and ALARA for their warm welcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From the Editor--State of the Journal: An Advisory Board Update

For the Editor's blog this week I want to share the semi annual update on ARJ activities that I recently shared with the ARJ Journal's advisory board.

I. Updates.

i. Our ARJ "manifesto" now sits on the home page: http://arj.sagepub.com. You may recall you added your signature and having it on the home page allows easier access and citation. As a reminder here’s how it starts up:
We, the undersigned leaders and friends of the Action Research journal, believe that our journal flourishes by serving the community of action researchers and putting its contributions at the service of society and our planet. As a community we are committed to doing work that brings appreciable positive impact through the collaborative character of our research.
ii. Now that ARJ has been inducted into the all important social science citation index, we can next expect the first “Impact Factor” to be published in June 2011. Thomson Reuters will count citations in 2010 to articles published in 2008 and 2009. I think it would be too optimistic to expect a high impact score in the early months and years; building reputation, at least as expressed in citations is a process that may take a long time. That said, we are so pleased to have been selected for the social science citation index as this is a significant help with making the journal a premier destination especially for younger scholars.
iii. Our acceptance rate now runs at around 25%. My hunch, watching the numbers over the years, is that we will stabilize at or around 20%. Not shabby! And we can take some pride in knowing that the 80% rejected usually experience a developmental approach which, we hope, does not deter from future engagement with the journal.

Accepted papers are now published in "on-line first" format which means they do not languish too long between final acceptance and public access. The current batch sit at: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/recent
iv. The advisory editorial board has modified the "quality criteria" that inform authors what we are looking for in a paper. This happened as part of the ongoing review process among the associate editors, through which we reflect on such things as the quality criteria. The criteria are posted on the site with manuscript submission information. It starts out as follows:

“The seven criteria listed on the ‘Quality Criteria’ page of the web-site are the product of ARJ associate editor board members’ ‘collogue’ on what constitutes ‘quality in action research.’ To start off the process of agreeing on these criteria, the Editor-in-Chief and each of the Editors on the Associate Board completed a questionnaire in which we ranked and commented on the existing quality criteria in terms of how we saw their relevance and importance to the journal.”
v. We have a number of Special Issues underway. For example Action Research and the Arts is coming to fruition – there was a bumper response which Mary Brydon-Miller has managed to pare down to what is shaping up to be a terrific issue. There are additional calls for papers to various special issues, including one whose guest editors have not been closely associated with the journal to date. We hope this signals our openness and our desire for a “big tent” approach. That SI may be found on our home page also: Civil Society Research for Sustainable Development.
vi. We created a new layout for the journal - matching most other SAGE journals. We therefore took the opportunity to update all the information on the site. Importantly we now acknowledge the Associate Editor who led the review for each paper and invite comments from readers on the blog. Therefore each article now ends with, for example, “We thank Dr. Davydd Greenwood for leading the review process for the authors of this paper. Should you have comments/reactions you wish to share, please bring them to the interactive portion of our website: http://arj.sagepub.com.”
Now speaking of interactivity …
II. II. REQUEST: blog now and then! RSVP with your interest to Hilary (bradbury@ohsu.edu) and check out the blog: http://arj-journal.blogspot.com/
Drs. Mary Brydon Miller, Meghna Guhathakurta, Steve Waddell and myself formed a team to advance ARJ connectivity. Mary engaged a handful of innovative and enthusiastic grad students at her Center for AR at University of Cincinnati to help out. In fact they have done most of the terrific work so far. As a result we now have the daily ARJ blog. Each weekday is devoted to a specific topic, one of which is to offer the "Voice of the Editor." I have been using that spot to share about our quarterly associate editor board meetings as well as drawing attention to the articles coming out in the new issue. It is now time to expand upon that.
The request: Please consider if you'd like to write a blog post (i.e., an informal, first person perspective on a subject of your choice that is relevant to the AR community) and how often (once a month, once every 2 months, daily is OK too!). Topics could simply include "what's on your mind now." Please include links to your own site and show your work off. In time we hope to use the blog as a showcase for the exciting AR work all over the world.
Next step 1) RSVP and let me know of your interest and/or 2) send me a blog post and I will upload it for you - or, if you prefer, let you know how to do it yourself.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Voice of the Editor - A personal update from Hilary

I’ll offer a personal update -- I have joined the faculty of Oregon's Health & Sciences University Division of Management as Professor of Management. Much of August was therefore spent arriving from LA to Portland (I can't believe that we really have that much stuff!).  Portland may well be the most sustainable/green city in the USA (which redoubles my commitment to de-stuff all that stuff I didn't even think I had!). Here in Portland, it's a pleasure start new exciting work with colleagues on participative approaches to sustainable global health. Please be in touch with any and all ARJ related matters, all advice and insight always welcome. My new contact information is:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang 黄喜蕊, Ph.D.
Professor, Division of Management
Oregon Health & Science University
BICC 405 School of Medicine
Portland, Oregon 97239
Office: + 1 503 346 0367
email: bradbury@ohsu.edu

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Teaching Research Ethics with guest blogger Kenneth D. Pimple

I have directed the annual Teaching Research Ethics Workshop (TRE) since its inception in 1993. Nearly 700 researchers, research administrators, and others have participated in the workshop.

For the first several years of the workshop, I was continually surprised at how many TRE participants were mystified by the idea of teaching ethics. I'm not surprised any more, but I still don't understand its cause. Sometimes the mystification manifests as frank hostility - "You can't teach anyone to be ethical. If they didn't learn it in kindergarten, it's too late." More often it comes out as simple cluelessness, as if they can't guess what "research ethics" might mean, let alone how it could be taught.

With few exceptions, I've seen the cloud of mystery lift without too much fuss. At its base, research ethics is perfectly simple. I've formulated a list of "the ten most important things to know about research ethics". The first five are

1. Be honest.

2. Be fair.

3. Do no harm.

4. Do good research.

5. Know and follow the rules.

The heretofore mystified one might say, "Well, isn't all of that obvious?" That's the point. Once the veil of mystery is lifted anyone can see that the core values of research are not profound, hard to grasp, or controversial. This takes off the pressure so we can face the more difficult issues without too much trepidation. For example, one might ask, "What does it mean to be honest?"

For everyday use, we can just accept that we know honesty and dishonesty when we see them, that we expect people to be honest, and that we don't respect people who aren't. To be sure, on extraordinary occasions, deciding (for example) whether a particular statement is honest can be challenging, fraught with nuance and subtle distinctions, and require learning some factual matters that are not easily uncovered - such as the intention of the speaker or writer(s) of the statement at the time the statement was made. The extraordinary cases are tough, but they also provide an intellectual challenge for the practice and teaching of research ethics.

There's a great deal more to research ethics than being honest and fair and following the rules, and teaching the "more" is what makes it interesting. But it also helps to remind everyone of the basics once in a while.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

HBH introducing Weaver-Hightower from ARJ issue 8 (3)

Weaver-Hightower writing from the USA about their action research in Australia, offers an example of field work at the intersection between emancipatory and practical education. The work described helped boys become aware of unacknowledged stereotypes that limit both boys and girls freedom to be who they are. The action researchers used the writing of the boys to both highlight and see change over time. The study also reveals much larger issues about institutional support of this way of engaging deeply with what students really believe.  Read the article: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/03/16/1476750309351359.abstract

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ramadhan Reflections posted by guest blogger Intisar Khanani

Ramadhan Reflections

This Wednesday finds us at the midpoint of the month of Ramadhan, the Islamic month of fasting. You’ll find as many explanations for the importance and value of fasting as you will find Muslims, for Ramadhan is both an intensely personal and a community-oriented experience. One of the five “pillars” of Islam, the fast of Ramadhan involves abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset for a full lunar month. But the physical fast, while teaching self control, will power, and compassion for those in need, is only the tip of the iceberg, inculcating values and building toward positive action.

As much as the combination of reflection, transformation and positive change are hallmarks of action research, they are also the focus of the month of fasting. The beginning of the month of Ramadhan heralds the start of additional optional prayers that take place after the night prayer as well as during the deepest part of the night (called Taraweeh and Qiyaam respectively). These prayers focus on the recitation of the holy Qur’an, from beginning to end, and offers Muslims the opportunity to remember and reflect on the messages and teachings of the faith. The days of fasting, followed by the nights of prayer, strengthen the spirit and refocus the believer on a goal that exists on two planes: the physical, in which one learns to be in tune with one’s body, treating it respectfully and recognizing its limits while not being ruled by it, and the spiritual, in which one learns to be in tune with one’s faith, increasing one’s god-consciousness and striving to improve oneself. Each day involves a cycle of reflection and action that continues to build through the end of the month, with the last ten nights of Ramadhan considered among the most sacred of the year, prime for additional worship and even seclusion in the mosque for prayer and reflection (called Itikaaf).

Ramadhan ends with the preparation for Eid, a three-day celebration beginning on the first day of the new month, complete with parties, new outfits, gift-giving and desserts galore. However, there is one key requirement of believers that precedes the celebration of Eid: to give charity equating to a certain amount of food to those in need in your community, such that everyone can engage in the festivities without worrying about meals. Thus, after a lunar month of fasting, reflection, and refocusing, the first step to move into the rest of the year is community-focused positive action--and celebration. Which, as any action research knows, you can’t do without. This yearly cycle refocuses the believer, offering a lifelong approach to renewing one’s faith and moving towards action, and providing a fascinating faith-based mirror to the process of action research.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HBH on 8 (3): Huzzard, Ahlberg and Ekman; Maurer and Githens on Organizational Development work.

Huzzard, Ahlberg and Ekman, write from Sweden about inter-organizational collaboration and the role of the action researcher. The conventions of social science encourage scholarly dishonesty about just how much impact the presence of a researcher has on an organization. Sometimes action researchers also fall into the trap of seeking to minimize their role. Huzzard et al encourage a more forthright understanding of ourselves as shapers of discourse and therefore as important political players in the work underway. As useful and acceptable a position this may be to many action researchers, we can only be aghast at the gap between our willingness to be honest about the impact of participation and the ongoing conventional wisdom to suppress the facts around this critical matter. Arguing about objectivity seems less helpful than providing pathways for better understanding what is at play. Clearly this is a delicate matter, one on which we welcome more practice based theorization.

Maurer and Githens writing from the USA offer a three part typology to describe action research in the field of organization development: conventional AR, critical AR and dialogic AR. This simple typology is helpful in allowing us to see the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and in recognizing our own and others practice footprints better.

Read the article: http://arj.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/03/16/1476750309335206.abstract

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Engaging issues of power and privilege posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

In the case study described earlier (see below), the basic principles that seem most salient to me are respect and democratic practice. As is so often the case, the researchers made a genuine attempt to live by these principles. They made a point of including a diverse group of participants, insisting that the miners and sex workers have an opportunity to take part in the process rather than assign “expert others” to speak on their behalf. They attempted to hold the meetings at a site that would signal to the participants that their participation was valued. And they consciously tried to accommodate the participants’ needs by providing financial support. So why didn’t it work?

I have found that using the language of “stakeholders” often masks profound differences in power and privilege in research settings. And by overlooking the issue of power it’s easy to assume that once we identify all those affected by an issue the magic of democratic practice and participation will somehow make things right. Rather than pretend that getting everyone around a table somehow erases the influence of power, action researchers need to engage these questions in a more critical and challenging manner. Pretending not to have power doesn’t make it go away. But pulling rank is worse. How can we acknowledge the power and privilege that we carry with us and put it to work to further our common goal of achieving positive social change? The first step is to recognize our own positions of power. Peggy MacIntosh’s now well-known metaphor of the knapsack of privilege is a helpful way to enter a discussion of how privilege works. If we could all begin by honestly acknowledging our own positions of privilege and work together to consider how these very tangible assets can be to use in addressing the issues our community partners have identified, we might establish a framework for using power and privilege in a productive manner.

Here's the case study if you didn't get a chance to see it earlier

In an effort to address the problem of AID/HIV transmission you have established a research project designed to bring all the stakeholders to the table. This includes local physicians and other health care providers, community leaders, sex workers and union officials representing local miners who have high rates of AIDS/HIV infection and who often transmit the virus to their wives and other sex partners. In order to make clear the importance of this effort and to show respect to the participants in the process, you arrange to hold the meetings at a regional conference center with state-of-the art facilities. Unfortunately, when you have your first meeting, few of the union members and none of the sex workers you have contacted attend, despite your work to provide stipends to cover travel costs and other expenses. In the interests of moving forward, you decide to go ahead with the meeting, in hopes of increasing participation next time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday: Drawing turnstile gates in Hebron Market in Palestine

This week I have asked action researcher, Dr. Stephen Kroeger, to begin sharing some of his impressions and activities from a recent trip to Palestine to begin action research with school teachers there. Because Steve is an artist, as well as an action researcher and educator, his first post introducing this experience is his interpretation in ink of a scene at the gates of Hebron Market. There are few places in the West Bank where Israeli settlers and Palestinians live as closely together as in Hebron. The town itself is divided by check-points with metals gates like this one and military personnel to monitor, to permit, and restrict access. This visual image is both stunning and unsettling. What must it be like to create community there in Hebron Market? With this image as the backdrop of daily life in this part of the West Bank, what needs to be addressed before beginning participatory action research in a place like this? What types of experiences will participants here bring to the table? How, if at all, does this change the role of the facilitator in an educational action research setting? I'm looking forward to finding out more about Steve's experiences in Palestine through both his words and his art.

Below are Steve's words and art. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave them! If you have an idea for or would like to write a response to any of educational action research topics you read here, please email me at: Dusty.Embury@EKU.edu.  Peace, Dusty

Turn Stile Gates

My spouse and I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of 28 teachers, administrators, and social workers from remote areas of the West Bank this past June and July. Participants from Beit Sahour, Jifna, Ain Arik, Beit Jala, Nablus, Taybeh, Berzeit, Aboud and Zababdeh, came to share and learn about special education. After classes were over we had opportunities to visit other parts of the West Bank. The drawing below is of the turn stile gates located within the ancient Hebron Market in Palestine’s West Bank. I drew this image from a photograph taken with a Flip camera just before walking through the passage way to the other side of the market. Through the turn stile gate was another section of the market as well as a Mosque in which were the ancient huts of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebecca. The city of Hebron is a significant point of conflict, Palestinians, along with Israeli human rights groups and international observers have accused the hard-line religious settlers of attacking the Palestinian population with impunity. The turnstile gates provided access control and restricted human movement by armed soldiers sitting on the other side who press stop or go buttons. Once through the gates we were searched before entering the mosque and other shops.

© 2010, Original art work by Stephen D. Kroeger, used with permission

Saturday, August 14, 2010

HBH Introducing Ataov Brogger & Hildrum from ARJ Issue 8 (3)

Ataov, from Turkey and Brogger & Hildrum from Norway write about inclusion of immigrants in Norway. Instead of treating immigrants as passive recipients of welfare, immigrants in this action research were engaged as potential collaborators in addressing Norway’s growing shortage of skilled personnel. The work therefore reframes immigrants as a potential benefit to the larger community rather than a drain on resources. The shift is not easy – mobilizing firms to become part of such a dialogue and keeping that dialogue alive is as much an issue here as in most action research efforts. Nonetheless reframing immigrants as a source of future strength signals a willingness to tackle the perceived and real problems associated with immigration in a way that is likely more sustainable over time. Clearly there are lessons here for all in the wealthy North who see escalating strife with regard to immigration at this time of economic downturn worldwide. Read the whole articles: http://arj.sagepub.com/.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

HBH Introducing Volk on teacher training from ARJ issue 8 (3).

In ARJ Issue 8 (3), Volk writes from the United Arab Emirates on the role of action research in teacher training. He draws attention to the centrality of reflection on action as critical to teacher training. However his research suggests a wide gap exists between what educators espouse on this matter (and practice while in supervised training) and what educators actually do in their regular practice when unsupervised. A vast majority simply give up the practice for “lack of time.” Certainly it is not just educators who don’t ‘walk the talk.’ Volk makes admirable suggestions for institutionalizing reflective practices in educators’ lives. Importantly he does not ignore the role of individual responsibility for developing and maintaining one’s own regular self reflective practice. Check out the article: http://arj.sagepub.com/.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

All stakeholders are equal…But some stakeholders are more equal than others (with apologies to George Orwell): posted by Mary Brydon-Miller

For our session on covenantal ethics at the upcoming World Congress we’ve drafted up some case studies related to ethics in community-based research. These examples are intended to guide our reflection and discussion related to the application of the covenantal ethics approach to specific situations. The following case study is very loosely based on Catherine Campbell’s excellent book, “Letting them Die”: Why HIV/AIDS prevention programmes fail”, along with Susan Boser’s important contribution to the literature on research ethics and AR, “Ethics and power in community-campus partnerships for research”. What are your thoughts on power and AR? What strategies have you used to bring all the stakeholders to the table in ways that give everyone an opportunity for genuine dialogue and decision making?

In an effort to address the problem of AID/HIV transmission you have established a research project designed to bring all the stakeholders to the table. This includes local physicians and other health care providers, community leaders, sex workers and union officials representing local miners who have high rates of AIDS/HIV infection and who often transmit the virus to their wives and other sex partners. In order to make clear the importance of this effort and to show respect to the participants in the process, you arrange to hold the meetings at a regional conference center with state-of-the art facilities. Unfortunately, when you have your first meeting, few of the union members and none of the sex workers you have contacted attend, despite your work to provide stipends to cover travel costs and other expenses. In the interests of moving forward, you decide to go ahead with the meeting, in hopes of increasing participation next time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wondering about e-PAR…Empowering a Community of Teachers... by, Vicki Stieha

I spent last week with a group of 22 educators and 3 other facilitators at a very intense week-long professional development seminar (PDS).  This PDS was designed primarily for middle and high school teachers as well as educational leaders to explore issues of culture, identity, and multiculturalism through an intensive study of history, cultures, and literature of the Jewish people.

Even before the seminar began I had been thinking deeply about how we can help this cohort of participants maintain connections with one another and perhaps helping connect them to previous participants. Now we [1] have to make some decisions!  We tried using technology with other cohorts (Blackboard, Skype, & teleconference calls), but this year we are committed to improving on our past record in this arena. None of our previous options allow the kinds of spontaneous, participant driven communication that we think they need to have to really engage in their own questions of practice.

Faced with these challenges, I found myself reading Flicker, et al (2008) and thinking about their e-PAR work with youth. As the authors point out, newer communication tools and technologies are expanding the opportunities for empowering participation—placing participant researchers in communication with one another while they are in their own unique communities. These technologies can support efforts to share their teaching and learning adventures and quandaries with one another. From our prior research we know that these kinds of supportive exchanges are important to the teachers’ sense of being willing to experiment with new teaching practices – something that I called “pedagogical play” in my dissertation.

Interestingly, although our group of participants includes several mid-career teachers, we also had several early career teachers this year—certainly “youthful” in terms of their technology use patterns. (I noticed their I-Pads, Kindles, and other slick new devices during the institute.) We’re hoping that the younger participants will lead the way as we venture into these new waters!

Before we dive in to unfamiliar waters, however, we’re wondering if you have any e-PAR advice? We are thinking of using Moodle because we think it will help us incorporate synchronous and asynchronous communication as well as support a more democratic system (all of the members of our e-learning community will be able to post and edit content). We’d love to hear from anyone who is using e-PAR. What technologies are working for you? What challenges are you facing? What advice can you offer us?

[1] “Our” includes the research associates of the Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Culture. Here I am referring specifically to my work with Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth, Mark Kohan, and Carrie Turpin with the input of our 2007 and 2009 Summer Teachers Institute participants.

Flicker, S., Maley, O., Ridgley, A., Biscope, S., Lombardo, C., & Skinner, H. A. (2008). e-PAR: Using technology and participatory action research to engage youth in health promotion. Action Research, 6(3), 285-303.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Introducing ARJ 8 (3). Hilary Bradbury-Huang.

Given that we have a new blog and a new issue (http://arj.sagepub.com), I will offer my editorial over the next few weeks as a conversation starter intended to invite you to the main event, i.e., the papers themselves in issue 8 (3). From there I invite your comments back to us, i.e., the community of action researchers - here on the blog. In other words we are seeking to get a little more interactive! Send posts to me directly at hilary@bradbury-huang.net. And yes we are working on linking to the issue more directly of course too!
In all the papers of issue 8 (3), I see the importance of creating mechanisms that encourage reflection both on our own practice and for our co-researchers. Self reflective practices are equally if differently relevant for work with boys in Australia (Weaver-Hightower), immigrants in Norway (Ataov, Brogger & Hildrum), and organization development experts (Huzzard, Ahlberg and Ekman). Feedback mechanisms that help develop self insight are not really the exotic extras that conventional social science would have us believe. They are crucial if we are to become aware of how our espoused values translate to actual impact with or upon others. What is shocking however is how often the very self reflective practices we espouse as central are simply abandoned given the press of action -- this is the finding of Volk's study.
I write this with a bit of a smile, because while it may be a burden to us all, it is probably also true that action researchers are called to be better human beings than the average. I don’t mean this in an obnoxious, self aggrandizing sense. I mean we need to be role models for being learning oriented, both with self and with others. At the same time we need also to plan for “evidence based” follow up studies and actually learn how our way of working is better, or not, than others. It may require years of work to see how an intervention pays dividends and how it compares with conventional intervention. Clearly issues of sustained funding are key - also a topic for future blogging among the global community!
Having just touched on a few of the upcoming articles in 8 (3) above, I will introduce each in more detail over the next few weeks in this 'voice of the editor' blogspot.  All the articles are at http://arj.sagepub.com/

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Following up on the quarterly meeting of the board. Hilary Bradbury-Huang

The arrival bell sounded for each as we clambered onto the teleconference for our quarterly board meeting on July 21st (unfortunately, Lai fong Chiu couldn't make it). Ernie Stringer had literally just arrived back to his home in Australia from Poland--via Palau, via Perth. The final leg of his journey included a two day drive to his house in the outback. Wow, just hearing of Ernie's journey exhausted me - and I had just gotten up in LA. It also oddly comforted me. All of a sudden getting ready for my family’s move up the coast to Portland is no big deal! I have taken a new position as Professor of Management at Oregon's Health Sciences University. It portends much focus on issues of organizational change (that's my thing, I mean, content expertise). I also look forward to more engagement with the action researchers who go by the name of community based participatory researchers for health (CBPR).

Davydd Greenwood was just closing up his house (in La Mancha, Spain). Being an anthropologist by training, his house is also a budding museum on the Spanish Civil War and was near the site of much anarchist activity. Davydd, who sits on the ARJ subcommittee for special issues underlined the importance of detailed conversation with special guest editors to convey our overall kind of collegial orientation at the journal. Our intent with the journal is to always make sure that quality is maintained in all articles. Meghna Guhathakurta had recently survived mudslides while visiting communities of Burmese immigrants on the border with Bangladesh. Her work with them, in its proposal stages, will provide for community nurtured schooling for the children. Fingers crossed for the funding. Marianne Kristiansen came in on her cell phone from Jutland on the Northsea. She reported on a new special issue on power that she’ll lead with colleagues around the world, including the marvelous María Teresa Castillo Burguete from Cinvestav in Mexico. We are hopeful that our contacts in Asia and Africa can be put to good use here too, given our commitment to global perspectives in special issues. Patch (Patricia Gaya Wicks) signed off early as she is playing a role at her university in the research assessment exercises that increasingly dominate the attention of British researchers these days. And I use the term dominate advisedly. Mary Brydon Miller was sitting proud and rightly so, given all the work on the Special issue (action research and the arts) that is nearing its end. And of course her colleagues at UCinn are the folks behind this blog. Victor Friedman is completing his sabbatical (not that we noticed his absence at ARJ as he continued with board meetings and extensive reviewing throughout!). On the call, Victor took the time to lead us in our own reflection on practice. We focused most of our time on a conversation about working with reviewers and how to deal with the variation in quality among reviews. Formal minutes are also available. Our next board meeting is September 22 (and in fact I cannot make it). I will therefore ask that someone draft the agenda and act as chair.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dissent - Valerie Louis

Lately I have been thinking  about dissent.  I learned about dissent as a concept from my work with A Small Group, a civic engagement group, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The group practices a six conversation model.  The first is an invitation, the second is the possibility conversation, the third is the ownership conversation, and the fourth is dissent.  ASG says "If we cannot say "no" then our "yes" has no meaning" (A Small Group Website).  Dissent is seen as a way to clarify roles, build the possibilities and has the potential to lead to commitment and ownership.  I have been thinking about dissent because I recently said "no" to something most people would probably say "yes" to.  I have often found myself in situations where the group is saying yes and I am saying "wait a minute."  Often I have provided a viewpoint that has not been examined.  Other times, I have expressed dissent for personal reasons after much reflection.  It is not easy to voice dissent - though at ASG I have found it easier because it is accepted.  As action researchers, how do we experience dissent?  What happens when participants express dissent, either with ideas or with taking part in components or the whole of the research?  Do we welcome it and see it as part of the democratic process or do we express (again) why this research is important.  I know it is hard as a researcher to accept non-participation from participants. Maybe we can think of a way to lead participants that do dissent through a reflection that provides them an opportunity to express why they are dissenting - in a way that still allows for the dissent.  

Productive dissent is not outright/closed down negativity. And if it is, can we also welcome that? Dissent can lead to clarification of ideas, for group and individuals. It can lead to amazing possibilities and creation/change that is beyond what we can imagine.  After dissent, I can tell you what I can do and what I do commit to (the fifth conversation).  The sixth conversation is the gifts conversation - what others have given you through the process and dialogue.  Can we open ourselves up to see dissent as a gift instead of a problem?