A place to put some new ideas that are quite sorted out yet
This is an articulation of my transfer from the taught stage of a Doctorate in Education delivered at CEMP (Centre for Excellence in Media Practice), Bournemouth University.
As Crotty (1988, p. 13) states, “we typically start with a real-life issue, a problem that needs to be solved, a question that needs to be answered” and thereafter research, which implies some sort of truth-claim will lead to conclusions that can be tested in experience, a process that Putnam and Borko (2000) refer to as “situated cognition”. Or as Pring (2015) suggests a case study which illuminates similar endeavours and similar ethical issues and from such a standpoint emerges a set of aims and intentions. As such, it is my intention in this teacher led research to contribute to a common set of understandings, that look to “unpack” the benefits of a work placement opportunity for Creative and Media Students in Key Stage 5 (ie A level study). Focussing on an improvement in practice should lead to a growth of knowledge, even if this is “context bound, tentative, provisional and constantly open to improvement” (Pring, 2015, p. 157).
Within this area of practice there have been a number of ideas and arguments circulated, for example, Ashton (2011), provides an analysis of a middle ground between university and real life work which offered possibilities for real world learning. His research was a qualitative enquiry into students as workers-in-the-making based around an examination of situated practices, which provided a good starting point for my own enquiry.
So in my efforts to contribute to this area of research, I have also set up a framework that offers real world or authentic learning to see if I could also examine the situated practices of a small number of students. In this study I am hoping to pursue a number of ideas and propositions, but essentially I am hoping to unpack the benefits of work placement opportunities for Creative and Media Students in Key Stage 5 (A level study) to answer some of the following research questions:
- How is a classroom teacher able to provide a meaningful framework for students to link with local creative and media outlets?
- What are the benefits of a work placement opportunity for Creative and Media Students in Key Stage 5 for all of the stakeholders involved (specifically students, local employers, teachers and parents)?
- What do conversations around situated professional practices of potential future creative workers reveal?
At a micro level this means working with a small number of students at my school over an extended period of research and action to situate such ideas, thoughts and approaches into my own practice and research. At a macro level this means that as a teacher-researcher I am going to engage in a research process that:
“attempts to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice” (Stenhouse, 1975, p. 4).
Looking at “activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have the potential for wealth and job creation” (Creative Industries Task Force (CITC), 2001, p. 5). In other words, the aim of my research is to engage in a teacher led research project that looks to examine the relationship between local creative and media providers to contribute findings to a wider set of questions relating to this field of enquiry. Echoing the words of Crotty (1988, p. 13), at best my outcomes will be suggestive rather than conclusive. They will be plausible, helpful ways of seeing things – perhaps even convincing, ways of seeing things – but certainly “not any one true way of seeing things”.
Munn-Giddings (2012) locates Action Research in the work of Kurt Lewin as a way of generating knowledge about a social system while at the same time, attempting to change it (Lewin, 1946), a process often ‘insider’ lead, that does not easily fit into academic debates around paradigms, not necessarily primarily concerned with finding out and understanding, but concerned also towards a need to change and improve social situations. As such, Munn-Giddings suggests that action research questions need to reflect the developmental process providing examples, such as:
- How can I improve the way I work with . . . ,
- How do we create . . .,
- In what ways do . . . become . . .
Therefore, I would put forward my own primary research questions as follows:
- How can I help creative and media students make a greater connection with local creative and media employers?
- Is it possible to develop a greater sense of collaboration between the classroom and the work room?
- What can be understood from such an endeavour?
In this sense the research questions fit into the methodological framework of action research, aiming to at least start a conversation around these issues and to generate a professionally organised research project that provides a critical and academic spotlight on this specific area. Particularly, as it seems to be the case that much has been written about the positive aspects of a closer working relationship between the creative industry and education – mainly government reports, see for example the most recent Government green paper, ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ which requests ‘industry to help shape qualifications and the curriculum . . . to ensure they are useful to future employers . . . and needs more involvement of industry experts’. (2017, p. 37). However, most research into this field of enquiry is undertaken at HE level and I therefore wonder what could be understood by researcher focussed at Key stage 5?
As an outcome of this research project it is hoped that this project can develop a number of ideas and strategies for developing productive relationships between local providers and local students. The research could also act as a series of guiding principles for good practice, recognising both the success and limitations of engaging in such a relationship, perhaps providing an insight for employers and teachers to understand each other’s needs and to identify best practice for future successful working partnerships. It may also act as a starting point for other practitioners to reflect and evaluate on their own experiences and practice and to contribute to a wider discussion on the impact of such endeavours.
It may also help teachers to look beyond yet another photography project for a local community event!
Greenwood and Levin (2000) identify action research by the following five tenets:
- Knowledge cogenerated through interaction between researchers and participants within the research programme
- Meaning formulated in the research process becomes practice; findings lead to social action
- Further and new meaning is formulated through reflection on social actions
- Different experiences are perceived as means of enriching the research process and the following social action
- Research is contingent and contextual, based in the field or real world and deals with problems apparent within these situations
Within my own research project this means that any research findings (knowledge) will be in some way cogenerated through an interaction between myself and the participants, that any meanings found in the project will become a new form of practice, which is contextual to the real life situations that I am investigating.
Action research is sometimes called practitioner based research and for my project this can be seen as a powerful tool for change and improvement at the local level that I am investigating.
As can be seen when looking at specific action research models, there is a duality approach that revolves around both action and reflection so that at each stage of the cycle the researcher is encouraged to not only reflect on their own development and practice, but also to become part of the process of development.
So for example, in this model by Tripp (2003) it is possible to identify key stages of the research: planning, acting, researching and evaluating – which create an on-going cycle of events that inform each other and continue to develop the cyclical process, until either satisfactory change occurs, or a more developed state of material condition is reached.