Co-researching with teachers: a socially just approach(?).


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For researchers and practicing teachers, working together through a co-research approach can provide a critical space for developing connections between the worlds of theory and practice. A perceived disconnect between research and practice is a theme that often runs throughout the field of education literature. A co-research model that involves both practitioners and researchers working together collaboratively on a research project can be seen as a way of attempting to bridge this gap. It will be proposed in this presentation that co-researching is a socially just way of approaching research in the field of education, with the potential to become a powerful source of knowledge.

The presentation will be framed within the context of my PhD research project which seeks to explore perceptions of Professor Lucy Green’s (2002, 2008) model of informal learning. As part of my research design, four case study secondary schools were explored to seek in-depth knowledge of how Green’s model of informal learning was understood, implemented and experienced by music teachers and their students. Within each case study school of this project, a two-part co-research element was incorporated into the design:

a) Teachers were asked to suggest an additional research priority to be explored within the context of their individual school, relating to informal learning;
b) Teachers were asked to co-design methods to be used within their case studies to gather student data.

The co-research approach enabled an abundance of advantages for this PhD project, including greater access to teacher priorities and student perspectives through personalisation, and the potential enhancement of trustworthiness in relation to the findings of the research. Similarly, advantages for the participating teacher included the facilitation of in-depth, reflexive practice, and the opportunity to use the knowledge generated to improve practice. However, a co-research approach can be seen as a risk, as there are potential ethical and practical pitfalls of the design. These include issues relating to power distribution and control, levels of involvement, and conflict in priorities.

Literature relating to co-researching will be explored in this presentation, along with a description of the actions I took to implement this approach as part of my PhD journey. Some of the experiences I encountered whilst implementing the co-research element will also be shared. Colleague contribution through means of discussion and questioning will be encouraged to continue debate on this topic area. Colleagues will be invited to share their views about whether a co-research approach does indeed have the potential to gather momentum and make positive contribution in the topic area of social justice in education research.


GREEN, L., 2002. How popular musicians learn: a way ahead for music education. Ashgate: Aldershot.

GREEN, L., 2008. Music, informal learning and the school: a new classroom pedagogy. Ashgate: Aldershot.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Conference for Research in Education (ACRE) - Edge Hill University
Duration: 27 Sept 201827 Sept 2018


ConferenceAnnual Conference for Research in Education (ACRE)


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