Friday, March 30, 2007

Co-authoring material on survey processes

A meeting of the ARC Linkage Grant team for the Reconceptualising the Doctoral Experience Project was held this week in Melbourne. In a previous post about meetings with CIs, IPs and SPs I outlined the key players and processes involved in such meetings. During the course of the meeting Kevin and I provided a progress report on the writing of our respective doctoral theses.

Further to discussion of this item, it was agreed that there would be value in co-authoring a paper that documented the processes associated with the planning and administration of an online national survey in mid-2005. On completion, this material could then be included as an appendix in both of our PhD theses. In addition, the text or an edited version thereof could provide a point of reference for future reports and papers prepared by us, the CIs, or a joint effort involving all team members.

Drafting an outline of the paper yesterday generated vivid memories of a complex and extended process. Essentially it took the best part of 12 months to get the survey up and running. We began by seeking approval from our two universities (December 2004), then spent much of 2005 designing, trialling, piloting, uploading, data collecting and data clean up associated with a survey instrument. Kevin’s ICT skills were certainly a major boon during the development of the online instrument. Details of some of the negotiations entered and the support secured from key groups were documented in my post on 8 September 2005.

Although this was probably the last formal meeting of the ARC Linkage Project Committee, members will no doubt continue to collaborate in the context of shared aspirations and expectations with regard to future publishing, research and related initiatives in doctoral education.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Acting as a discussant

In an earlier post I recorded my interaction with Prof Stephen Kemmis in the context of my coming to grips with practice theory. While ongoing dialogue with Stephen has been highly beneficial to me, I was surprised initially when he invited me to act as a discussant (along with Ass Prof Alison Lee and Prof Susan Groundwater-Smith) at a seminar and symposium on professional practice held last week at the Wagga Wagga Campus of Charles Sturt University (28 February-2 March 2007).

The first two days were conducted in the context of the International Practicum and Practice Project, which involves Australian, Dutch, Nordic, Swedish and British researchers. A number of collaborative publications are currently being developed, and the purpose of the two-day seminar was to review draft chapters from three books. Wednesday was devoted to discussion of publications from the Netherlands and Australia concerned with the development of praxis. Most of Thursday was taken up with a review of the RIPPLE volume. Research in Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) is “a multi-disciplinary research centre that conducts high-quality applied research and consultation in the field of professional practice”. A paper by Stephen entitled What is Professional Practice? can be accessed from the RIPPLE website.

About twenty invited participants were involved in this seminar, which included local and international researchers such as Prof Wilfred Carr (Sheffield Uni), Prof Petra Ponte, Prof Jan Ax and Prof Peter Karstanje (Netherlands) and Dr Anne Kinsella (Western Ontario Uni). An additional thirty people attended a symposium held on Friday to explore practice and praxis in more detail. Presentations were made by Stephen, Wilfred, Petra and Prof Gail Whiteford (Charles Sturt) followed by discussion. As part of a concurrent session, Anne Kinsella, Matthew Campbell, Robyn Mason and me gave presentations on our current research on practice.

This was indeed a most stimulating, challenging and rewarding set of activities in which to be actively involved. Opportunities to interact with individuals and groups engaged in research on praxis and professional practice, as well as to review and discuss draft chapters face-to-face over an extended period, proved to be affirming, uplifting and productive. I detected a strong sense of shared commitment not only to understand practice more deeply, but also to develop more effective ways of engaging practitioners, a significant number of whom have been identified as experiencing a sense of estrangement or alienation from their professions and/or their professional work in recent times. I have little doubt that the books scheduled for online and hard copy publication in 2007-08 will have considerable impact in education and beyond in the years to come.