04 SES 04 E, New Directions for Research on Inclusive Education: Exploring the field
This paper is part of a current research project entitled “Research and Innovation Networks for Educational and Social Inclusion” (Ref. EDU2015-688617-C4-1-R). This project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness and is being developed in Spain in 4 research groups from 4 different universities (University of Vigo, University of Cantabria, University of Seville and University of the Basque Country). Through 16 case studies we aim to analyze how diverse groups or collectives without a voice explore and undertake new inclusive practices that enable them to increase their agency and their social presence. To this end, different groups of collaborative inquiry created ad hoc act as communities of practice analyzing critically and raising questions on specific processes of exclusion that affect them. The groups propose and explore new inclusive practices that are embodied in innovative projects. Each intervention proposal is not only designed but also developed, documented and assessed by the participants themselves following a model of participatory research which is clearly focused on transformation. The groups are heterogeneous in their composition. Theiy include as partners groups at risk of exclusion, members of different educational and social institutions, civic and cultural organizations, as well as university researchers from the autonomous community in which they are developed.
The research on educational exclusion processes has evolved in different directions, it could be said that approaches do not always converge in the way they address inclusion (Göransson y Nilhom, 2014; Thomas, 2013 y Nilhom y Göransson, 2017). Some perspectives have been especially critical of this evolution and claim that inclusive research in itself must be a genuine activity of participation (Nind, 2014). In this regard, our work assumes inclusion to be a dynamic process and therefore many people’s transition towards exclusion or inclusion is produced by crossing various areas of vulnerability (Castel, 2004). Thus, it is especially relevant and urgent for inclusive research to analyze and propose activities that favour the agency and feeling of belonging of those people that find themselves in areas of vulnerability previous to social exclusion. We understand these practices to be strategies for reversing exclusion and encouraging participation.
Our research also recognizes the need to look for more participatory and comprehensive ways of understanding and promoting systemic structures that underlie processes of inclusion and exclusion. Some proposals closely linked to emerging movements and social groups currently expanding in Europe suggest that education cannot work alone to break and stop exclusionary processes present in society and therefore also in schools (Anyon, 2009; Della Porta y Diani, 2015). These movements believe that inclusion implies a more democratic and deliberative management of society, which overcomes school boundaries and also involves citizens and social agents in educational, social and cultural objectives.
Following these ideas, the objectives of the study are defined as:
- Analyzing the processes and methodologies that facilitate the implementation of collaborative inquiry groups in each of the research case studies.
- Promoting and studying in-depth the processes, projects and initiatives designed and developed in each case by the participants in order to move from situations of exclusion to more inclusive ones.
- Knowing the value and repercussion that participation in the inquiry projects has on the participants’ subsequent trajectory (teachers, students, citizens) and their communities.
- Generating useful resources for the development and expansion of communities of inquiry involved in establishing projects and pedagogic processes aimed at inclusion.
The methodology adopted in this study, in accordance with the way of understanding inclusion and the proposed objectives, is the option of an approach that understands research to be a critical and collaborative process of participation (Nind, 2014; Parrilla, Susinos, Gallego-Vega y Martínez, 2017). Thus we support an approach that rejects participation as the mere application of participative strategies, rather it requires reflective action on the terms suggested by Bauman (2002) and Freire (2013), which are clearly emancipatory. We are working in 16 case studies, in which different inclusive social and education innovation strategies are being developed. All the collaborative inquiry groups are inter-professional and heterogeneous and are located in different autonomous communities in Spain (Andalusia, Cantabria, Galicia and the Basque Country). The study is designed around 4 phases that begin with the creation of work teams, which constitute communities of inquiry, and the identification of the area in which they are going to work (phase1), the design and participatory development of the group proposal or improvement project (phase 2), the analysis of the impact derived from the projects developed from the perspective of the participants in each research team (phase 3), and the comparative and critical analysis of the processes and projects of the study as a whole (phase 4). Given that the project is currently under development, in this paper we aim to analyze phase 1, with respect to the processes implemented for the creation of collaborative inquiry groups and how these groups have been creating their identity, exploring their environment and constructing a community of inquiry. To this end, we have carried out an analysis of the content of the information contained in different records such as visual (videos) and written narratives (audio recordings, interviews and field notes) of the sessions where the groups were formed. The information has been categorized according to a series of codes that include 4 major sources of information: the socio-political context, the origin of the groups (how were they created, who started them?); the participants (where they came from and professional or civic profile); subject area of the projects initiated in each group; processes developed (work methodology, reflection and deliberation processes) and the atmosphere of the group (relationships between the participants and their environment).
The results from this first phase of the study allow us to talk about a broad diversity of groups and topics, connected to different educational, socio-political, geographic and cultural environments. The groups were originated following a double top-down and bottom-up strategy that responds both to a direct invitation by the members of the University research group or the demand or initiative of some group. We will analyze how both strategies are articulated in the project and how each one influences the subsequent implementation of the project. Each project defines and studies an area of participation following its own process of innovation relating to school topics, non-formal education, or community issues linked to the local context in which it is developed. Some of the areas of work are: exclusion situations linked to children’s family vulnerability; early school dropout; bullying at school; disadvantaged school and social environments, minority cultural groups, disabling environments and situations. In the following phase this analysis has led to the development of “inclusive innovation projects” within each group. These are different with regard to their participants, scope and object of study. A common aspect shared by the inquiry groups is the development of participatory processes of reflection, deliberation and inquiry. However, it is important to differentiate between groups that are more focused on action from the outset and others that are more focused on reflection and research. This involves different rhythms of work which we will analyze. Finally, we highlight the results on how participatory research connects and promotes the ideals of inclusion, democracy and social justice. It is not only an instrument for producing more and better practices but to problematize from within our discourses and daily practices in order to establish new visions of education collaboratively.
Anyon, J. (2009). Progressive social movements and Educational Equity. Educational Policy, 23, 1, 194-215. Bauman, Z. (2002). Modernidad Líquida. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica Castel, R. (2004). Encuadre de la exclusión. In S. Karrz (Ed). La exclusión bordeando sus fronteras definiciones y matices. Barcelona: Gedisa. pp 55-70 Cochran-Smith, M. y Lytle, S. (2009) Inquiry as stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation. New York: Teachers College Press. Della Porta, D. y Diani, M. (2015) The Oxford handbook of Social Movements. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Freire, P. (2013). Education for critical consciousness. New York: Bloomsbury Academic Göransson, K., y Nilholm, C. (2014). Conceptual diversities and empirical shortcomings-a critical analysis of research on inclusive education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 29(3), 265-280. Parrilla, Á., Susinos, T., Gallego-Vega, C., y Martínez, B. (2017). Revisando críticamente cómo investigamos en educación inclusiva: cuatro proyectos con un enfoque educativo y social. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación del Profesorado, 145- 156 Thomas, G. (2013). A review of thinking and research about inclusive education policy, with suggestions for a new kind of inclusive thinking. British Educational Research Journal, 39(3), 473-490. Nilholm, C. & Göransson, K., (2017) What is meant by inclusion? An analysis of European and North American journal articles with high impact, European Journal of Special Needs Education, online pub. pp 1-15 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2017.1295638
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