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Using collaborative action research as an evaluation approach: wheres the rigour in that? Tina Cook Northumbria University

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Presentation on theme: "Using collaborative action research as an evaluation approach: wheres the rigour in that? Tina Cook Northumbria University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Using collaborative action research as an evaluation approach: wheres the rigour in that? Tina Cook Northumbria University

2 Action learning approach: what is it? An individual development programme A problem-solving forum

3 How does it work? Small groups of about 6 people meet regularly to work through some of the issues and problems associated with their work Usually they meet for about three or four hours once every four weeks or so. But timings are negotiated to suit the group Everybody takes turns at talking about his or her issue – the rest of the group asks questions to help get the thinking straight. People decide on their own actions based on the exchange of views. Between meetings action is taken and reviewed at the next meeting. The process goes on until the issue is resolved.

4 Synetics Creative problem solving method Designed to play with problems so as to break our of restricted ways of seeing solutions Changes can be made such as changes in: context perspective nature of ingredients identification with other parties in the situation

5 Issue of rigour when using action research as an evaluation approach Application of method Interpretation of data

6 Evaluating the early years sector of an Education Action Zone. Participants Health visitors Nursery nurses Parents Librarians Methods Interviews Focus groups Photography and video

7 Evaluating the development of inclusive practice in an Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership. Participants: toy libraries out-of-school clubs private, voluntary and LEA nurseries Playgroups parent and toddler groups and childminders Methods Interviews Focus groups Photography and video Workshops Evaluation forms

8 Researching notions of research, consent to research and ethics held by men with learning difficulties with histories of offending behaviour. Participants: men with learning difficulties and staff who worked with them Methods Interviews Focus groups DVD, CD Workshops

9 Action research should: …have an impact on ideas/opinions and influence action through the generation of knowledge and understanding Somekh and Lewin 2006:355

10 Evaluation for development; for knowledge building; and for accountability.

11 Action Research as a form of inquiry …uses the experience of being committed to trying to improve some practical aspect of a practical situation as a means for developing our understanding of it. It is research conceived and carried out mainly by insiders, by those engaged in and committed to the situation, not by outsiders, not by spectators (although outside facilitators may also, indeed, have rather an important role to play) (Winter, 2002:27)

12 Methodological approach and associated methods Facilitated Collaborative Action Research Interviews Focus Groups Workshops Photography projects Mapping Diaries, field notes from observations….. Evaluation forms

13 The questions So when you have done all this talking with everyone, and the workshops and photographs and everything, what will you do to collect some standardised evidence?..but you have asked those people who are already doing it, and they have a bias towards the way they are doing it – why did you ask them and not someone without that bias?

14 Why did I choose these methods What is meaningful to practitioners is strong evidence Collaborative methods can get beyond the already expert Knowledge needs to be constructed rather than collected

15 Remaining aloof is: to risk the worst kind of subjectivism – the objective observer is likely to fill in the process of interpretation with his own surmises in place of catching the process as it occurs in the experience of the acting unit which uses it (Blumer, 1969:86)

16 There are multiple realities Knowledge constructed without participants can only be partial Co-labouring important in developing knowledge Features of the work would guide the criteria applied to judge it Non participant observers are likely interpret situations with their own surmises

17 Synetics – (for defining the issues) perspective: Describe the situation as if you had just arrived from Mars – are a reporter for a tabloid journal… nature of ingredients Describe the situation as if it were taking place in a science fiction or other changed setting… identification with other parties in the situation Describe the situation from the point of view of another party eg If I was John I would be feeling….. Would be wanting…… Would be considering…..


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