Speakers at the recent CARN Study Day on the theme of Action Research for Real Life along with the President of National College of Ireland (NCI), Gina Quin, Josephine Bleach (ELI) and Jane O’Connell (CARN)
Bernie Sullivan, Caitriona McDonagh and myself, Máirín Glenn, were delighted to present at the fabulous CARN Study day at the National College of Ireland (NCI) on June 18, 2019.
We were given a warm welcome to the Action Research for Real Life event by the president of NCI Gina Quin who outlined the importance of of action research to connect, listen and empower communities. Jane O’Connell from the CARN Steering Committee launched the study day and outlined the principles underpinning the CARN philosophy. She also reminded us about the CARN journal Educational Action Research and the CARN Bulletin, and encouraged everyone to join CARN and to attend the CARN conferences.
Jean McNiff gave the first presentation of the day and provided everyone with food for thought with her insights and experience of action research. She outlined the importance of the heritage of action research here in Ireland and noted that many of those who contributed to that heritage were in attendance. She reminded us that in doing action research, we create new knowledge and new theory. Drawing on Schon’s topology of the swampy lowlands, she argued that action researchers need to be seen as researchers who can generate good quality research and not just as practitioners. She also outlined the huge importance of the relationships and the connections between people in the action research process.
Tina Cooke gave a sparkling presentation and drew on her own experiences of engaging in community research projects to explain her understanding of doing action research in the real world. She invited the audience to work collaboratively and interactively with her. During her presentation, she suggested that collaborating should be renamed ‘co-labouring’ as it often draws on toil, disasters and trouble. She also talked about the idea that the action researcher often becomes the ‘invisible facilitator’ and reminded us that action research draws on our own experiences, celebrates these experiences and asks us to reflect on them. Tina echoed Jean’s words by outlining how important creating relationships was for her in the research process.
Hazel Hurley did some amazing graphic harvesting as she recorded the day’s proceedings:
The Network for Educational Action Research in Ireland (NEARI) had the final presentation of the day. Caitriona, Bernie and I spoke about the relevance of action research to real life in terms of voice, critical friends, reflection and dialogue. We also echoed earlier ideas about the crucial role values hold in the action research process. We looked at how we might identify values and their relationship to Siolta and Aistear. We also drew attention to the idea of competing values and how we might experience them in our everyday work. Our input concluded with an activity around our ethical responsibilities and how we might experience ethics in action research. We discussed ethics in terms of ethics for honesty, justice and power. Our presentation is available below.
The panel discussion brought the day to a close. Everyone adjourned to the foyer to be fuelled by nibbles, treats and drinks as as the hum of animated conversation around action research wafted into the hazy afternoon sunshine in Dublin city centre.