Universities, supporting schools and practitioner research

Constable, Hilary (2018) Universities, supporting schools and practitioner research. Research in Education, 101 (1). pp. 39-62. Full text not available from this repository.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0034523718763637


Practitioner research, as one example of research supported by universities, has developed in unexpected ways, some of them unhelpful and has not always generated the benefits predicted. This paper argues that practitioner research has become shaped more by the needs of universities than by the schools and teachers it was hoped it would serve. The paper goes on to explore the idea that the promise of practitioner research has been so beguiling that it has commandeered more than a wise share of attention in universities and that this has been at the expense of exploring some other avenues of engagement with schools. The paper notes that the evolution of practitioner inquiry has taken place at a time when regimes of accountability driven by central government have been visible globally and when universities and schools each had significant pressures to fulfil policy imperatives. The pressure towards performance has in England drawn the attention of universities and schools away from, rather than towards, each other: schools to revised curricula and performance, universities to research and funding. Practitioner research became developed as a skeleton for higher degrees and in that arena universities came to have a role in promoting and at the same time inhibiting and possibly damaging its development. Hopes that practitioner research would come to contribute to mainstream research were not fulfilled and both educational and more especially practitioner research remain problematic in the wider university research agenda. One response is to renew efforts to improve existing approaches and examples of this are now widespread. However, the paper observes that, at present universities’ support for schools seems to reflect only a small part of their much wider expertise and argues that education departments in universities might think much more radically about the range of expertise that they can offer schools, a more imaginative exploration. The paper continues by noting that the challenge for university departments of education of working together equally with schools and teachers is easy to aspire to, but not to fulfil, and this impacts on working with the authentic concerns of schools and on sharing expertise. Further opportunities are available: beyond education departments: for example, other university departments have expertise that education departments might link with which has hitherto remained unexplored. Additional areas which remain under-researched are the processes of incorporating educational change and in making judgments about educational initiatives. Readers are reminded that the accidental barriers produced by the categories of research, teaching and administration are accountancy categories and may demand creative and determined responses. The paper concludes that there is too much to lose by not exploring these or other wider possibilities and much to gain by doing so including opportunities in research.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Research in Education
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 2050-4608
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Education (IOE) > Non-Initial Teacher Education (Non-ITE)
Additional Information: Hilary Constable is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education, University of Cumbria, UK.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
SWORD Depositor: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2018 08:45
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 19:32
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3741
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