The shift to practitioner research from institutional research (university as well as educational research organizations) has brought with it questions about what kind of knowledge does site-based research bring to the knowledge-base field:
- What epistemological, methodological, and political issues occur when practitioner-researchers attempt to generate knowledge while working in the context of their own environment (the inside)?
- How might power relations within and around the context of the study site interfere with and effect one's ability to gather data?
- Can a study be truly valid if it was not done in a positivist way, under experimentally controlled conditions that would allow the objective collection of quantifiable data?
- Shouldn't the study be designed so that it can be replicated to assure its reliability?
Gary L. Anderson from California State University, Los Angeles, would argue that practioner research can contribute to "a coherent and rigorous knowledge base in the field."(1998). He is cautious, though, about how some research in the field is being conducted because as he fears some of it is being conducted to obtain higher degrees and the allowing of site-based dissertations and portfolios can "lead to 'quick and dirty', financially lucrative degrees that give the impression of meeting the needs of busy practitioners."
However, he goes on to say:
...but they also offer the possibility of the creation of a significant body of research which emerges from the messy reality of schools and focuses on questions important to administrators and school stakeholders.
So, how can practitional research "be" research? Anderson states:
...to call something research, it seems to me it should be data or experience that is at very least systematized in some way. I would like to invite both school-based and university-based colleagues to join me in looking at this new body of practitioner research in our field and thinking through the methodological, epistemological, and political issues associated with action-oriented, site-based research. I encourage those of you interested in this endeavor to share your thoughts with me by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MacLean, Marion S. & Mohr, Marian M. (1999). "Teacher- researchers at work." Berkely, CA: National Writing Project, p. 116-124.
Ethical Principles in Teacher Research
Conducting a research project with any human subject becomes a hot issue if "harm" is done to that subject. When you conduct research and write about your research you must protect the safety and the rights of your students. Be honest and tell the truth as you understand it when you report on and discuss your findings.
It is important to following these guidelines:
- Show respect and care to your students, their parents and your colleague.
- Give credit where credit is due. This means acknowledge the colleague(s) who helped you with your research. Credit the students whose thinking influenced you, as well as the piece of literature that helped you define or solve a problem, or gave you an idea for your question.
- Let the parents of your study subjects and your administration know what you are doing and why. A letter home with an overview of the project is one good communication tool. If you use pictures of students in your report, secure written parental permission.
- If you have any doubts about ethical issues in what you are doing, discuss it with your colleagues and administration.
MacLean, Marion S. & Mohr, Marian M. (1999). "Teacher- researchers at work." Berkely, CA: National Writing Project, p.125-132.
Ethics Educational Research http://www.aare.edu.au/ethics/aareethc.htm
U.S. Dept. of Education- National Center for Education Research http://ies.ed.gov/ncer