center for action research in professional practice
University of bath
emerging approaches to inquiry conference
September 17 - 20, 2008
Scholars and practitioners from around the world discussed varieties of action research practice at a conference in the UK organized by RCLA and the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP) in Stroud, England. The twelfth in a series inaugurated by Judi Marshall and Peter Reason in 1986, this year's conference marks a growing relationship between CARPP and RCLA, both interested in promoting and conducting research that integrates action and reflection.
Action research aspires to create knowledge directly relevant to the issues being studied, and in a participatory way in which there is increased collaboration between academics and practitioners in the inquiry project. This joint venture between CARPP and RCLA offered complementary perspectives on action research; on the one hand CARPP has championed its development in a variety of forms, on the other, RCLA has pioneered its integration with more traditional forms of qualitative research in co-producing knowledge about social change leadership in the United States.
The conference featured a variety of interactive workshops through which members of both RCLA and CARPP collaborated in sharing their experience with action research methodologies. The workshops were highly experimental, inviting practitioners to live inquiry over the course of the conference.
Topics included reflective practice, using narrative to do research and to catalyze change, the contribution of action research to leadership development, experimenting with different representational forms in research, and combining various traditions of research.
Participants explored approaches to inquiry that go beyond the paradigm in which the role of the researcher is to discover the ‘truth' in a detached and nonparticipatory way. Conversations also delved into the role of action research in solving real life problems, improving situations, and the relevance of action research to social change.
Participants were also invited to create and learn from their own agenda. Participants organized more than 20 conversational groups to explore issues ranging from virtual action learning to inquiring in nature. In the spirit of experimenting with different forms to knowing, a key feature of action research, two social clowns took part in observing the conversations and mirroring back to the group main ideas and processes in skit form in order to deepen reflection.
For more information on the workshops, selected resources and presenters please click here.