Original Research Paper
Early Childhood Practitioners Developing an Academic Voice and Tutors Making Sense of the Research Process
By Rosie Walker and Michael Reed
University of Worcester, UK
Walker, R., & Reed, M. (2012). Early childhood practitioners developing an academic voice and tutors making sense of the research process. NZ Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 15, 132-144.
The study shares insights into the way undergraduate students who are early childhood practitioners in their final year of study developed an academic voice beyond the walls of a University. It was designed by two University tutors who followed the progress of a number of student/practitioners who came together with the intention of editing and publishing summaries of their own practice based research. A qualitative approach was adopted and the authors describe their research position and the way literature surrounding active learning and communities of practice, impacted on their thinking. Methods of inquiry included, phenomenological interviews, research notes, participant observation and content analysis. The resulting information was examined in order to reveal the way students were making sense of their experience and the way the researchers were attempting to make sense of the research process. This included the way the researchers were both inside participants and outside researchers in the process. A reflexive stance was used to look back and learn from the process and consider how the methodology was shaped as the study progressed. Issues discussed include group motivation, the interrelationship between research and practice and the transformational nature of the process on students and tutors. The authors suggest what motivated, sustained and transformed thinking and action, was seldom a defined product or aim. It was more to do with subtle and less easily seen concepts such as personal and collective pride, learning from others, concern for others and the desire to share practice.
Key words: Community of practice, andragogy, practice based inquiry.
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