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Practice-based research methods: Challenges and potentials

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Master class on practice based research methods 11 December 2019.
Education as an applied interdisciplinary research field faces acute challenges in defining the nature and scope of practice-based research. Constantly shifting notions of what it means to learn and, consequentially, what it means to teach make practice-based research a fluid and muddy concept. Increasing technologisation of learning environments and heightened expectations concerning the role of evidence in situated educational decisions have led some scholars to suggest a range of new approaches that are seen as more suitable for quickly changing research and practice contexts and capable to connect research with practice, design with teaching, and data with action. In this presentation, I discuss some different ways of thinking about these connections and emerging from them methodological implications. I argue that practice-based research has to ground itself in a much better understanding of diverse ways of knowing and embrace the notion of the methodological craftsmanship.

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Practice-based research methods: Challenges and potentials

  1. 1. The University of Sydney Page 1 Practice-based research methods: Challenges and potentials Seminar and MasterClass Lina Markauskaitė 11 December 2018 @University of Southern Denmark, Kolding
  2. 2. The University of Sydney Page 2 Background
  3. 3. The University of Sydney Page 3 My 2 “modes” of working across research & practice
  4. 4. The University of Sydney Page 4 Main points 1. Research useful for teaching and learning (T&L) changes together with T&L practices 2. Our challenge is to create enduring dynamic connections between ways of engaging in T&L practices and in research practices 3. Practice-based research is epistemic craftsmanship 4. We need Basic and Use-inspired basic research of T&L practice Note: When I say ‘practice’ I mean ‘T&L practice’. In fact, I will talk about two practices: ‘T&L practice’ and ‘Research practice’.
  5. 5. The University of Sydney Page 5 Practice-based research (PBR) Practice – many definitions – a number of practice theories My working definition of practice: – an enduring, purposive activity Some versions of PBR – Research for practice – Research of practice – Research within practice – Research through practice
  6. 6. The University of Sydney Page 6 3rd Order2nd Order1st Order The 3 Orders of learning, teaching, design & research Teaching as telling Learning as acquisition Designing for learning content (product design) Teaching as facilitation Learning as participation Designing for experiences (service design) Teaching as co-configuration Learning as co-construction & conscientious inhabiting Co-designing for knowing (relational design) Scientific mode (‘what works’) Action mode (‘know how’) Ecosystem mode (‘when’, ‘who’, ‘why’)
  7. 7. The University of Sydney Page 7 I. Scientific mode Situating research of and for practice within the established disciplines or fields of study PBR as a disciplined inquiry
  8. 8. The University of Sydney Page 8 Disciplines of education 1. Psychology 2. Sociology 3. Philosophy 4. History 5. Economics 6. Comparative ed 7. Geography 8. … http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v534/n7609/ful…
  9. 9. The University of Sydney Page 9 Education as a discipline or field http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v534/n7609/ful…
  10. 10. The University of Sydney Page 10 Discipline as… …a set of shared dispositions about: a) Objects b) Evidence c) Methods d) Expertise Benefits – Gives intellectual “home” – Enables production of cumulative knowledge – Values intellectual agency But – Imposes constrains on knowledge development – External usefulness is rarely the main concern https://images.pexels.com
  11. 11. The University of Sydney Page 11 II. Action mode Situating research of and for practice within the practice PBR as an activity in the world
  12. 12. The University of Sydney Page 12 A spectrum of approaches Form Research-based practice to Practice-based research Teachers as: – Designers – Researchers – Innovators
  13. 13. The University of Sydney Page 13 Key features – Draws on practitioners’ methodological ‘know how’ – Produces ‘know how’ for practice Products do not ‘travel’ well: – Diverse purposes – Lack of contextual cues – Unclear granularity – Needs a community – Needs a common vocabulary Falconer & Littlejohn, 2009
  14. 14. The University of Sydney Page 14 III. Ecosystem mode Situating research for and of practice within a self- improving ecosystem PBR as a principled- reflexive action within a multilayered, dynamic ecosystem Source: Senge, 2000
  15. 15. The University of Sydney Page 15 PBR as an ecosystem on its own Models for linking research to practice 1. Research Development & Diffusion 2. Evidence-Based Practice 3. Boundary-Crossing Practices 4. Knowledge Communities A combination of all 4 modes is necessary Based on Broekkamp & van Hout-Wolters, 2007 From Goodyear, 2011 Requires epistemic fluency & craftsmanship – Different disciplines – Different inquiry traditions – Different perspectives
  16. 16. The University of Sydney Page 16 EXAMPLE 1: ‘Easy’ way for doing PBR Following a tradition https://images.pexels.com
  17. 17. The University of Sydney Page 17 From ISLS Vision 2009 Tradition of the learning sciences
  18. 18. The University of Sydney Page 18 Tradition of the learning sciences “Learning Sciences (ISLS)… seek to advance the sciences and practices of learning, broadly speaking, with special attention to how they may be augmented by technology.” “ISLS is committed to application in context (not only in laboratories), to rigorous empirical research (not simply philosophy), and to design and application (not only theory)” From ISLS Vision 2009
  19. 19. The University of Sydney Page 19 A view of learning Learning is distributed… …across people, and across tools and artifacts. Activity System …therefore, it is situated and, importantly, mediated. Research involves production of design artefacts – technology, models, principles, theories https://pixabay.com
  20. 20. The University of Sydney Page 20 Design-based research …a systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually- sensitive design principles and theories. Action research (Lab) experimen ts DBR
  21. 21. The University of Sydney Page 21 ‘What’ of DBR: Main steps Compleat model Middleton et al, 2008 Research (Theory) Development (Design & Field test)
  22. 22. The University of Sydney Page 22 ‘How’ of DBR: Main ingredients Conjecture mapping Sandoval, 2013 Research (Theory) Development & Implementation (Design)
  23. 23. The University of Sydney Page 23 Example: Learning about climate systems 1. Learning complexity knowledge 2. Productive failure & analogical encoding 3. Developing concrete models, worksheets, etc. 4. Working with & preparing teachers 5. Trialing solutions in a classroom 6. Refining Acknowledgement: ARC Linkage project with Michael Jacobson
  24. 24. The University of Sydney Page 25 DBR: Some challenges 1. Researcher-participant relationship and roles 2. Hawthorne effect 3. Reliability and validity 4. Capturing context and process 5. Integrating and analyzing various, often ‘rich’, data formats 6. Producing knowledge needed for design (when, why)
  25. 25. The University of Sydney Page 26 EXAMPLE 2: ‘Hard’ way for doing PBR Working outside disciplinary traditions https://pixabay.com
  26. 26. The University of Sydney Page 27 Some layers of social inquiry What kinds of conclusions will we be able to draw? Where do we focus? What kinds of evidence do we collect? What things do we choose to notice? How do we know & research? What kinds of questions do we ask? How do we act?ONTOLOGY EPISTEMOLOGY METHODOLOGY INSTRUMENTATION DATA ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES Realism Positivism Nomothetic Segregation Numerical Statistical Nominalism Anti-positivist Ideographic Integration Qualitative Interpretative HUMAN NATURE Determinism Voluntarism
  27. 27. The University of Sydney Page 28 Living between the ‘ends’ Post-positivism Critical (Discourse analysis) Participatory, Constructivist (Action research) Post-modernism New materialism Ecological perspectives Performative (Arts-based inquiry) Complexity Positivist Interpretativist (Interaction analysis, Phenomenology) Critical realism (Design based research) Feminism (Discourse analysis)
  28. 28. The University of Sydney Page 29 Example: Researching ‘formal concepts’ and ‘actionable knowledge’ Ontology: realist, dynamic Axiology: internal-external Epistemology: manifold Human nature: grounded Methodology: interpretativeImmanuel Kant 1724-1804 Thomas S. Kuhn 1922-1996 David Hume 1711-1776 Manuel Delanda Lawrence Barsalou Stephen Toulmin 1922-2009 Atkinson & Shriffin Grounded cognition & manifold view of human conceptual understanding It is NOT an eclectic constellation
  29. 29. The University of Sydney Page 30 Research as ‘method’ and Research as ‘craft’ Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Hypothesis Data Analysis Analysis Analysis Hypothesis Findings Findings Findings Improvisation based on Patton (2011) Developmental evaluation
  30. 30. The University of Sydney Page 31 Traditional challenges Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Hypothesis Data Analysis Analysis Analysis Hypothesis Findings Findings Findings Improvisation based on Patton (2011) Developmental evaluation 1. Lack of compact theoretical language 2. No ready methodological toolbox 3. Being outside ‘epistemic renting’ culture 4. Hard create cumulative knowledge
  31. 31. The University of Sydney Page 32 Some final notes Where we are and what's next https://pixabay.com
  32. 32. The University of Sydney Page 33 Pasteur's quadrant and the place of PBR Everyday curiosity Image from: http://publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/is-there-archaeology-in-pasteurs.html Design-based research, etc. PBR Action research, evaluation studies etc. PBR Theory-oriented research: cognition, brain, etc. PBR
  33. 33. The University of Sydney Page 34 Evolution of scientific & social methods Scientific research 1. Empirical: Aristotle 2. Logical-theoretical: Newton, Kepler 3. Computational: modelling 4. Exploratory: data-driven Social research 1. Descriptive: qual & quan. 2. Theory-oriented: interpretative & experimental 3. Constructivist-critical: action, design-based 4. Social/behavioural data mining, performative Cutting-edge discoveries emerge at the edges of disciplinary domains from the synthesis of theories, experiments and computation using large integrated datasets Based on Szalay, 2007
  34. 34. The University of Sydney Page 35 Final thoughts Success of PBR much relies on our abilities to navigate across inquiry cultures and craft PBR methods Education https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/purity.png https://xkcd.com/435
  35. 35. The University of Sydney Page 36 Main points 1. Research useful for teaching and learning (T&L) changes together with T&L practices 2. Our challenge is to create enduring dynamic connections between ways of engaging in T&L practices and in research practices 3. Practice-based research is epistemic craftsmanship 4. We need Basic and Use-inspired basic research of T&L practice
  36. 36. The University of Sydney Page 37 Email: Lina.Marakauskaite@sydney.edu.au Thank you Your questions, comments, reflections…

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