and a VET framework of innovation
Concept of action research>
Role of the actors > Process of action research
> Final remark
of the actors: researchers, practitioners/ teachers, stakeholders
one question I really want to address, also in reaction to Ludger's presentation.
I know action research, we have it in the Netherlands too, I know all this
literature etc., but we didn't manage to find out what the role of research
is in relation to both innovating practise and developing conceptual knowledge.
My ambition with this new methodology, linking these two, is to develop
operational strategies on how the researcher is more than only a transmitter,
how the researcher has his or her own agenda also at the front of the process,
and not only at the back, an agenda of also developing conceptual knowledge
from this approach. That is what triggers me. This is another angle than
action research has, because in action research you stay local, you can
combine, but you don't have a concept which drives and joins the actors.
That's my problem, so to say, how do you do that.
I take the position that specific action research oriented tools are needed.
These should allow a quite effective activity for the researcher to follow
simultaneously scientific and practical objectives. So you need a double
oriented instrument, a tool that is supportive to the actors in the pilot
and also develops conceptual knowledge about the process for the researcher
and his research activities like research publications. He may develop
an ‘inter-subjective concept of truth’ (according to Fricke/Gustavson).
This rather more subject oriented knowledge delivers, for example, an experience
based conceptual framework for the implementation of a new curriculum as
we face it in the curriculum discussion on ‘learning arenas’ or as a work
based learning concept. It could be reflected experiences for the implementation
of such kinds of curricula, but also theories of practise while comparing
similar change processes at different VET locations and regions. In this
sense it would be regional innovation research within VET, which describes
important structural and social factors for successful change and the effects
So this was my point: to say that we don’t need, for instance, just a great
chunk of quantitative data which is not relevant for the practitioners
or for a qualitative interpretation and rather distant to the VET reality.
It would be possible to do a rather distant oriented and summarising questionnaire
survey after the end of an innovation process and to make use only of a
small bit of that data in the final report. This might however be ineffective
since there is little relevance for the shaping of the innovation process.
But what I want to point out is that the action research debate now-a-days
is not so much an ideological discussion about action research as it was
in former times, but much more a pragmatic methodological discussion
on relevant problem solving instruments and tools which can be used by
the actors (for self orientation and supporting their own competencies
for innovation processes) and which can at the same time be used for scientific
conceptual development. In action research the practical and theoretical
research processes are interwoven – the researcher takes part in the developmental
problem-solving process and does innovation research about this process.
He has to dismantle the interwoven processes and deliver better transparency.
heard a lot about innovation and very dynamic processes, about processes
of accumulation of knowledge and action research. But what is the role
of teachers? I know that from the German example, because I work for the
same institute, so this questions is more addressed to the Dutch colleagues.
There have to be structures for reflection and even reproduction of knowledge.
So what place has that in your model?
Also relating to what was said about Gibbons and Mode 1 and Mode 2. As
I understand Gibbons, Mode 1 is a sort of precondition for development
of Mode 2, in the sense that they say: the development of Mode 2 wouldn't
be possible without the fact that there is much more participation in research
and in higher education, which then, after a qualification period, spreads
out to the world of practice.
that was my other point: what is the position of the various actors that
are involved in this whole operation, including teachers and, maybe, including
students too. What you said about Mode 1 and 2: I don't agree with you.
In my view, the idea is that you have Mode 1 to develop formal knowledge,
with respect to reliable knowledge, including traditional, classical knowledge
sources and local knowledge sources being Mode 2 knowledge. The interesting
thing for me is how to combine these sources in a new methodology directed
at innovating practice and accumulating knowledge also in respect to Mode
I mean is that the practitioners probably need to be enabled to articulate
their Mode 2 knowledge on the basis of Mode 1.
point is that in your discourse you have still the researchers knowing
it, and the practitioners have to be informed about the formal knowledge,
and then they can operate. In my idea, in this circle, in this community,
there are also teachers participating and maybe some students. So you have
these various actors and the researcher, all having an agenda for participating.
The agenda of the researcher is also addressed to developing conceptual
knowledge, concepts which he or she wants to develop further, but from
the agenda of the teachers other knowledge can be important, and together
they make a new concept. So in our approach we have circles, knowledge
circles, in which teachers participate, managers, researchers, consultants.
They all participate in that, with the ambition of making and using the
knowledge which works in relation to their own targets. So in this new
methodology the ambition is to use these different targets to make the
who is going to solve the concerns, the practical theory, where would be
the place to conserve this knowledge?
was indeed one of my discussion points: someone has to coordinate the whole
operation. In our example we have particular researchers or consultants,
people that have more or less both expertise, that coordinate those communities.
is what I found interesting with Ludger, because you were talking about
action researchers and practitioners; my conception of action research
was always that the practitioners are actually the researchers.
that's absolutely right. It may have been not so clear in my presentation,
but really what we want to do is to support the practitioners by action
research driven concepts and tools, so that they are able to do also their
own research. There is a need for moderation and facilitation by the researchers
in this accompaniment process. It could be too much for the practitioners
to be also researchers at the same time, because they are more or less
developing curricula, they are preparing new learning arrangements, they
are looking for methods, they are implementing these methods, they are
experimenting with these - so they have rather a constructive and developmental
orientation. The researchers could have a supporting role, for example
providing the criteria for shaping the learning arrangements. Criteria
delivery, which is rather complex and a theory driven task, could be one
of the accompanying roles of the researcher undertaken in such action research
processes; or delivery of meta-data on how to structure the teaching material;
or analysing the conditions for the change process, the pre-knowledge for
the change process. All this is more an activity on the side of the researcher;
but he may discuss this with the practitioners.
are not researchers. Yet, they are creators of knowledge - that is the
difference. That's why I don't talk about action research, that's why I
want to invent a new term.
try to respond to the question of researchers' own agendas. I would argue
that a general concept of ‘action research’ may lead to a blurring of possible
roles whereas the more focused concept ‘accompanying research’ may provide
Regarding the role of researchers, it strikes me that the concept ‘action
research’ is often used in a sense that plays down the need of theoretical
thinking. For example, in the Scandinavian action programmes for promoting
innovations in working life, action research was introduced as an instrument
to facilitate democratic dialogue. The researchers insisted on being facilitators
of dialogue between the interest groups in working life. Thus, the researchers
tried to support the creation of a social space for dialogue without making
explicit use of their conceptual tools.
As a contrast, several projects of ‘accompanying research’ have had the
task to work with new educational concepts that have been drafted at the
level of policy development. Thus, the projects have faced the challenge
to interpret the pilot concepts as cornerstones for actual implementation
and to re-conceptualise them in terms of providing feedback for further
Recently, the German accompanying research projects have played such a
role in the pilot projects that have introduced the curricular innovation
concept ‘learning arena’ (Lernfeld). The concept stands for the combination
of subject-based learning and practice-related learning and for the shaping
of collaborative learning environments. When working with such concepts,
accompanying researchers are not merely passive observers or facilitators
of debates between educational authorities and practitioners in the field.
Instead, researchers are needed as co-developers and as providers of conceptual
support within open-ended innovation processes. This kind of involvement
has been documented by the report of the pilot project SEDIKO that worked
with the introduction of the new ICT-related occupational profiles. By
exploring the possibilities to shape connective (ICT- and substance-related)
learning arenas the project reached a genuine intermediate position.
that Elly is solving the action research at a macro-level, it means changes
in curricula at national level, so that all partners are involved. It’s
important to let the partners work, so all mechanisms that are used in
the communication to find some solution must be functioning. We did some
similar research in the middle of the 80s, during the communist period,
so it was a little bit different, relations between different partners,
but they were also functioning. But we as educational researchers made
a very simple mistake, we followed only our aims, if a new curriculum will
be functioning or not. At the end of the 80s there was a revolution, and
immediately after that the concept of our reform was generally refused,
because social partners were not accepted. But this concept was in fact
very good, it was well prepared, so after two years all schools returned
to the concept of the reform. So it’s very important that all social partners
are in function. It would also be important to involve researchers from
other disciplines, sociologists etc., to follow the movement between the