Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Participatory Action Research - a questionnaire! #ecil2013

This morning Jesus Lau presented Participatory Action Research and Information Literacy: Revising an Old New Hope for Research and Practice, co-authored with Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo and Sirje Virkus at the European Conference for Information Literacy. Kurt Lewin was given as originating Action Research in the 1930s/1940s: there was a quote which indicated that it was about "developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview". I found it interesting that it sounded as though the origins of Action Research was more radical than it seems to have become in some of the more routine action research studies (e.g. in education). Therefore the current idea of Participatory Action Research seems to be returning to the original spirit of action research. In all cases those involved are called on to reflect on their practice, take some action to achieve change, and then reflect again on the impact of the change. Participatory AR puts emphasis on the active participation of all those involved in the research process. Therefore if you are carrying out PAR with students you would be doing more than simply having them in a focus group afterwards, they could be involved in planning the PAR and morfe actively in data collection and interpretation. As it said on one of the slides "Researcher works with participants from their own knowledge, mediating common understandings building upon the knowledge, practices and realities of all involved".

Part of the presentation was justifying PAR as a valid research approach (as opposed to a positivist view which would dismiss it as "subjective"). However I'm sure no readers of this blog are foolish enough to dismiss qualitative research as "subjective" so I won't rehearse those arguments here ;-)

The authors are investigating "In what ways can PAR contribute to the development of a research and practice IL agenda?" and have set up a questionnaire to collect people's views. You can find the questionnaire at :
Photo by Sheila Webber: flags in the sun, Istanbul, October 2013

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