22 SES 10 E, Quality Assessment and Evaluation
Academics are under pressure to publish, and publications are used as a measure of academic performance, capacity and professional responsibility (Murray, 2012; Hyland, 2007). Yet not all academics find it easy to write, or know how to (Fanghanel, 2012). New career researchers are often expected to ‘pick up’ the knowledge and skills of writing, and established researchers often experience tensions between wishing to write for educational influence and institutional expectations to produce scientific/social scientific texts for high impact journals.
The situation becomes more problematic when the methodology is action research, which is still seen by many editors and peer reviewers as a powerful form of professional education but not as a means of generating valid academic theory (Hammersley, 2004; Taber, 2013). Further, the form and content of action research texts often contradict the canons of conventional research – its narrative emergent form; a focus on learning from and through experience; the focus on the ‘I’; reporting the politically-constituted nature of the research within the research context under critical scrutiny. These forms do not always suit the analytical form of social science texts.
My research as an educational researcher and academic supporter focuses on helping colleagues learn to write for publication and achieve appropriate quality in action research texts such that the mainstream research peer community will take them seriously. I ask, ‘How do I support academic colleagues’ action enquiries for social change, and the publication of texts? How do I help them achieve appropriate quality in social and literary practices and capacity to assess what counts as high quality?’ Through this engagement I address the conference theme of how educational research can contribute to social, economic and political transitions. I also argue that educational research itself and the form of theory it generates should be understood also as in transition, from current grand narrative perspectives (Lyotard, 1984) that prioritise dominant abstract forms of theory to pluralistic perspectives that value also localised dynamic transformational forms of theory. This involves an interrogation, re-imagination and negotiation of what counts as high quality in social and literary practices and which kinds of criteria are used to judge quality.
I adopt different strategies, beginning with helping colleagues develop self-perceptions as activist writers and to see writing as a form of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1990). As well as fulfilling traditionalist criteria for their practices and texts (demonstrating generalisability and methodological rigour), we also identify new, politically-oriented criteria, including:
The capacity for parrhesia (Foucault, 2001): speaking one’s truth through making original contributions to knowledge of the field. This involves criteria of:
- frankness: the speaker believes what they say
- truth: the speaker knows what truth is and can communicate it to others
- courage: the speaker accepts the risk of telling the truth
- criticism: the speaker exercises critique towards self and others
- duty: the speaker accepts the responsibility of telling the truth
The capacity for communicative competence as an initial condition for communicative action, involving criteria proposed by Habermas (1987):
- The speaker speaks comprehensibly;
- The speaker speaks the truth;
- The speaker is authentic;
- The speaker demonstrates appreciation for normative contextualized understandings
The capacity to demonstrate critical engagement: this involves engaging critically with and re-thinking one’s own thinking, in light of critical responses from others, including the literatures. It involves addressing Winter’s (1989) principles of action research: the demonstration of: reflective critique, dialectical critique, collaborative resource, acceptance of risk, pluralist structure, linking theory and practice.
The capacity to demonstrate ethical practices in social interactions and through texts: this involves demonstrating the ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, justice and contextual caring (Olsen et al, 2003).
Bereiter, C. and Scardamalia, M. (1987) The Psychology of Written Composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Berlin, I. (1990) Four Essays on Liberty. London: Oxford University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1990) The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity. Coulter, D. and Wiens, J. (2002) ‘Educational Judgment: Linking the Actor and the Spectator’, Educational Researcher, 31 (4): 15–25. Fanghanel, J. (2012) Being an Academic. Abingdon: Routledge. Foucault, M. (2001) Fearless Speech. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e). Garrison, R. and Anderson, T. (2003) E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice. New York: Routledge. Habermas, J. (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action: Volume Two: The Critique of Functionalist Reason. Oxford: Polity. Hammersley, M. (2004) ‘Action Research: a contradiction in terms?’, Oxford Review of Education, 30 (2): 165-181 Herr, K. and Anderson, G. (2005) The Action Research Dissertation. New York: Sage. Hyland, K. (2007) Writing in the Academy: Reputation, Education and Knowledge. University of London: Institute of London Press. Lyotard, J.-F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Manchester: Manchester University Press. McNiff, J. (2013) Action Research: Principles and Practice (3rd edition). Abingdon: Routledge. Murray, R. (2012) ‘Developing a community of research practice’, British Educational Research Journal, 38 (5): 783–800. Olsen, D.P. et al. (2003) ‘Ethical Considerations in International Nursing Research: A Report from the International Centre for Nursing Ethics’, Nursing Ethics 19 (2): 122–137. Sacks, J. (2003) The Dignity of Difference. London: Continuum. Taber, K. (2013) ‘Action research and the Academy: seeking to legitimise a ‘different’ form of research’, Teacher Development: An International journal of teachers’ professional development: 17 (2): 288–300. Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Winter, R. (1989) Learning from Experience. London, Falmer.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.