02 SES 08 B, Boundary Practices In Interactive Research
At the 2008 ECER conference Ellström introduced the concept of ‘interactive research’. Interactive research often takes place in the context of innovation processes. In this proposal we chose to focus on the context of educational innovation. In contemporary Dutch education, particularly in vocational education, many innovation projects take place in which research is incorporated. As there are no clear-cut answers on how to organise the interaction between such innovation and research, we studied three projects in Dutch vocational education from the learning perspective one can take on the interplay between knowledge creation and innovation (Ellström, 2010).
The concept of interactive research constitutes two basic ideas: (1) the idea of the threefold task and (2) the idea of knowledge creation through collaboration between researchers and practitioners.
The first basic idea of the threefold task refers to the idea that interactive research aims to contribute to the two tasks of addressing practical concerns and the creation of scientifically valid knowledge, such as new concepts, theories and models. Additionally, a third task needs to be included, namely the educative task of developing and enriching the knowledge and competencies of the participants involved through individual and collective learning. Ellström (2008) argues that this third task is conditional to accomplishing the other two tasks. Therefore interactive research is essentially about the joint learning process of practitioners and researchers.
This brings us to the second basic idea underlying interactive research, i.e. its emphasis on knowledge creation through an egalitarian co-development between researchers and practitioners with a focus on a shared problem or research object. Interactive research consists of two interacting systems, namely, the research system and the practice system. Processes in both systems are viewed as cyclical in character and driven by problems/issues originating in research or practice. Ideally, these two activity systems may be seen as interlocked, collective learning cycles that produce successive versions of shared conceptualizations of the research object. Researchers and practitioners are assumed to co-produce shared knowledge and understanding of the research object through joint exploration and analysis of data. However, mutual conceptual development does not take place automatically (Akkerman, Bronkhorst & Zitter, 2013). The sociocultural differences between the research and practice systems may give rise to discontinuities in interaction and action, in which case participants are faced with boundaries. Though facing boundaries can prove challenging, boundaries also have learning potential such as: (a) coming to know what the diverse practices are about in relation to one another; (b) creating cooperative and routinized exchanges between practices; (c) expanding one’s perspectives on the practices; (d) collaboration and co-development of (new) practices (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011).
The above notions are studied in the context of three educational innovation projects in which research is incorporated. The following questions are central:
(1) How can we characterize the organisation of the practice and the research systems respectively?
(2) How can we characterize the boundary practices between the practice and research systems involved?
(3) Which lessons can be learned for future interactive research projects?
Akkerman, S.F., Bronkhorst L.H. & Zitter, I. (2013). The complexity of educational design research. Quality & Quantity, 47(1), 421–439. Akkerman, S.F. & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. Review of Educational Research, 81, 132-169. Ellström, P.E. (2008). Knowledge Creation Through Interactive Research: A Learning Approach. Paper presented at the ECER Conference, Gothenburg, September 10–12, 2008. Ellström, P.E. (2010). Practice-based innovation: a learning perspective. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22(1/2), 27 - 40 Mittendorff, K. & Gellevij, M. (2012). Research report project Triple T [in Dutch]. Saxion University of Applied Sciences: Research group Innovative and effective education.. Nieuwenhuis, L., I. van der Neut, K. de Ries & C. Teurlings (2012). Collective teacher learning through experimentation in VET. In: LLinE, Lifeling Learning in Europe, vol. 17(4). Zitter, I. & Hoeve, A. (2012). Hybrid Learning Environments: Merging Learning and Work Processes to Facilitate Knowledge Integration and Transitions”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 81, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k97785xwdvf-en
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