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Proceedings of ECER 2004 round table on 'action research' and a VET framework of innovation


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'Action research' and a VET framework of innovation

DISCUSSION  > Concept of action research >  Role of the actors > Process of action researchFinal remark

Concept of action research

Comment between the contributions by Elly de Bruijn and Ludger Deitmer

Pekka Kämäräinen

In this context I would like to look back at the development of the theme ‘action research’ and its relation to similar methodological concepts. From 1996 onwards, the issue has been discussed in several ECER symposia and in related Cedefop-supported events. At that time it seemed necessary to highlight the distinctions between the concepts ‘action research’, ‘accompanying research’ and ‘evaluation research’. During the latter half of the 1990s there was a need to discuss what kind of project designs could be proposed for European cooperation programmes. 
    Now, at this point of time, it seems more appropriate to discuss the parallel approaches as a methodological continuum. This requires, however, an understanding for different constellations between research, policy and practice. In some cultures the VET colleges may themselves be positioned as ‘owners of innovation’ and act directly as promoters of ‘action research’. In other VET cultures there are more complex patterns for promoting innovations with the support of ‘accompanying research’. 
    The aim of this bridging remark was to draw attention to the fact that – depending on the above mentioned institutional settings – research may appear in somewhat different intermediate positions between theory, policy and practice. Furthermore, the expectations on research may vary to a great extent: Is research in the position to develop a tradition of its own? Or: is research only expected to provide support for its respective clients? Regarding these questions the three parallel concepts provide slightly different answers.

Questions related to the contribution by Elly de Bruijn

Volker Bank

In your presentation you referred to 'educational support structures' - could you explain what exactly is meant by this?

Elly de Bruijn

I don't know whether you have this in other countries: In the Netherlands we had institutions that were funded by national government or local public authorities. These are agencies to help schools implement new ideas, in particular in relation to new policies. On the local level you had the school advisory boards, and at national level you had national operating institutions, like CINOP, to support schools. Some ten years ago this education support structure has been (partly) privatised.

Wil van Esch

How does potential aid to this approach connect to the methodology?

Elly de Bruijn

Well, in several ways, because of our definition of the practical theory. It is not only research interrelated elements of a concept, but also translation into practice, or action instruments for practice. The concept has to have examples of how we do it and how we make a change. The other way is empowerment: our concept on competence based training is not only an idea on how to facilitate learning , but also on how school organisations are changing, how the teaching infrastructure has to change, how to make the change work.

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