Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

broad strokes

These days I'm thinking a lot about what 'counts' as research in practice (RiP), mostly because I'm in the midst of work on the next issue. Our theme next time is "The State of RiP". We chose this theme because people are wondering what will happen to RiP now that it is no longer a priority for federal funding here in Canada.
Perhaps we've boxed ourselves in by thinking that RiP is mostly projects with start dates and end dates, research questions and 'deliverables'. Research is so much more than that. I'd like to share the broader definition of research, phrased so well by Richard Darville in our inaugural issue:

all the ways in which people concerned with adult literacy practice re-search – look again, articulating and clarifying what they know, and pushing out into the unclear and the unknown.
What would it mean to think of RiP as this sort of re-search? Here's more from the same article:
When we begin to connect a broad understanding of practice with a broad conception of research, the first thing we recognize is that much of practice already includes research. It is research when teachers experiment with learning materials, with the phrasing of explanations, or with learner involvement in program organization, and make findings about what works. It is research when practitioners carry on discussion and debate, seeking to share and to clarify their understandings, or to pose and address problems. It is research when people drafting and testing plain language documents come to new understandings of reading processes. It is research when practitioners and policy makers observe and reflect on how administrative arrangements work.

So research is a normal part of ongoing good practice. But of course when people conventionally speak of research, they mean something different and more formal than this – inquiries that are deliberately planned and conducted, and that result in some writing (or taping or filming) and public communication of their results.
The next issue of Literacies will explore whether the current funding situation is helping broaden our ideas about what counts as RiP, or simply making people feel their work is even more devalued.

What are your thoughts? I'd like to hear from you!

Source: Darville, Richard (2003). Making Connections. Literacies #1

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