ERG SES E 06, Policies and Education
The aim of this PhD research is to study empirically and theoretically the relations of research, practice, and policy-making, in the field of adult education. Research began and the most of the data was collected in the AITURI project, led by the Finnish Society for Research on Adult Education and funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, which aimed to develop the knowledge exchange and collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policymakers of adult education. Besides deepening the results of the phenomenon based empirical project study, a major aim of the PhD study is to theoretically understand the nature of relations and collaboration of actors and the functions and relevance of research, breaking the boundaries of the fields of sciences.
The research makes a review of theories and earlier research about the relations of actors and the relevance of educational research. Usher & Bryant (1989) have presented a triangle model about the relation between theory, research and practice. They see the research mediating between theory and practice. Hargreaves (1999) has presented a triangle model about educational research, practice and policy, in which research is affecting policymaking and practice, but the relation is not reciprocal. Lassnigg (2012) has presented a triangle model, which is concidered already classical these days, about the relations between research, practice and policy, in which the arrows of effects go both ways. However, the impact of the research on the policymaking, the concept of evidence-based policy, is criticized and it is questioned if the actual need is to produce policy-based evidence. “Evidence-based” is also connected to the relations of research and practice. Evidence-based practice means developing practice based on researched knowledge (Clegg 2005). Evidence-based research, on the other hand, means that research should be grounded empirically strongly on practice in order to be able to transfer the research results directly to the practice (Dirkx 2006). The problem of these triangle models is the absence of real actors and the indefinite descriptions of actors. The logic and mechanism of knowledge exchange and collaboration are not explained either.
The earlier theories are reread from the perspective of Bruno Latour's production focusing mainly on his sociology of relations of actors. According to Latour, actors are independent and uncommunicative by their nature. To be able to connect and communicate with each other actors need mediation of a third actor. In order to strengthen their positions and building facts, actors try to find allies assembling collectives that are, eventually, becoming black boxes and that happens through series of translations. Translation means finding a shared language and interests for acting and constructing facts together. Translation forces actors to change. Latour conciders the making of science as a collective process questioning the division between insiders and outsiders. By the means of translation and collective construction of facts, the research is made to be relevant for practitioners and policymakers, too. (Latour 1987, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005.)
The research questions of this study are: 1) How are the relations of research, practice and policy in the Finnish adult education? 2) What is the role and relevance of research in these relations? 3) How are these relations and the understanding of the relevance of research from the perspective of Bruno Latour's sociology of relations? 4) How the translation between actors and the collective methods of making science could be developed?
Empirical data is collected in Finland, but the discussion about the relations of research, practice and policy and the relevance of educational research is international. This research provides theoretical understanding about the nature of relations, translation and collective methods of making science that interests internationally.
Clegg, S. (2005) Evidence-Based Practice in Educational Research: A Critical Realist Critique of Systematic Review British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26 (3), 415–428. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. Third edition. Lontoo: Sage Publications Dirkx, J. M. (2006). Studying the Complicated Matter of What Works: Evidence-Based Research and the Problem of Practice. Adult Education Quarterly, 56(4), 273–290. Hargreaves, D. H. (1999). Revitalising Educational Research: lessons from the past and proposals for the future. Cambridge Journal of Education 29 (2), 239–249. Lassnigg, L. (2012). ‘Use of current best evidence’: Promises and illusions, limitations and contradictions in the triangle of research, policy and practice. International Journal of Training Research 10 (3), 179–203. Latour, B. (1987) Science in action. How to follow scientist and Engineers through Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (1988) The Pasteurization of France, trans. Alan Sheridan and John Law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (1993) We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherne Porter. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (1999) Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: an Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Usher, R. & Bryant, I, (1989). Adult Education as Theory, Practice and Research: Captive Triangle. London: Routledge.
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