Supporting practitioner research: some practical and philosophical problems

M. McAteer

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    Session Learning Outcomes • Discuss and debate the concept of “evidence-base” • Explore notions of evidence based practice in students’ school based research projects • Explore the concept of Learning Outcomes and their specification Session Outline Students on MA Education Programmes are required to undertake a module in Research Methods, prior to Dissertation. Recent debates on methodology (for example, Carr, 2005, Bridges, 2006) suggest that this concept is epistemologically as well as practically problematic for both tutors and students. Agendas such as that of Coe, Fitz-Gibbon and Tymms, 2000) suggest that “the ‘goldstandard’ of evidence is taken to be multiple replications of small scale, randomised controlled trials (RCT) of feasible interventions in real-life settings.” (Coe, Fitz-Gibbon and Tymms, 2000:2) The DfES CPD Strategy (2001) expects teachers to engage in high quality CPD, which is integrated with performance management and school improvement. School improvement is currently a centrally defined concept, and practitioner research as part of CPD activities should inform practice and contribute to policy decisions. A dilemma arises here for tutors and students. Given that evidence-based practice arises from practitioner research (rather than research on practitioners and practice), teachers may feel compelled to produce work within the RCT framework and yet find this directly oppositional, practically and philosophically to the reflective practice promoted in Masters Programmes. If as Carr (2005) suggests, the notion of any appropriate methodology can be challenged, and action research is a form of praxis, or practical philosophy, then the fundamental function of such research is “to keep the conversation going” (Carr, 2005) If 'theory and practice’ are seen as ‘mutually constitutive and dialectically related.' (Carr, 1986, p183), the problem in constructing research projects, is one constructing that dialectic. Hammersley (2001) suggests that the purpose of such practical philosophy is “not producing knowledge but rather with determining what is the right course of action in particular situations”. The problem for tutors and students in CPD research programmes, is how best to resolve the tensions between the competing standpoints of RCTs and Reflective practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference - University of Warwick, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Sep 20069 Sep 2006


    ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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