McCallum & Nicolaides, 2019

McCallum, D., & Nicolaides, A. (2019). Cultivating Intention (As we Enter the Fray): The Skillful Practice of Embodying Presence, Awareness, and Purpose as Action Researchers. In Bradbury, Hilary (Ed.), The SAGE Handbook of Action Research (Third Edition).


It is in the hope that we might be effective in our actions and mutual in our relationships that we co-authors practice the way that we bring ourselves to our research with intention, presence, and even a degree of vulnerability. We strive for a personal stance of epistemic humility in the midst of our inquiry (Schein, 2013), both in the relationship to what we think we know and with our fellow researchers and participants. The work of action research is almost inescapably complex and filled with tensions between individuals, groups, goals, and processes and outcomes of inquiry. How do we engage self-interest with the interests of others? How do we develop mutual relationships with other stakeholders? How do we relate to our research data and our collective goals in a relatively self-conscious manner? How do we gauge that we have moved sufficiently into the state of ‘unknowing’ so that we are asking genuine questions with sincere curiosity and that we are willing to learn with and from our co-researchers? This article is about that practice as a form of preparation for the work of action research.

Our purpose in this chapter is to explore the first person reality, i.e. the inner condition of the researcher, and to describe reflective practices by which an action researcher, new or experienced, might consciously tend to his or her quality of presence, state of attention, and direction of intention so as to become more skillful in relationships, inquiry, and action. We are indebted to Torbert (2003; Torbert and Associates, 2004) for the practice of ‘action inquiry’ and extend his theory-in-praxis by developing a conscious review of three key subjective dynamics: being, knowing, and doing.


presence, awareness, purpose, being, knowing, doing, epistemic humility

Extracted Annotations (2019-11-09, 9:51:30 AM)

Our selective perception of the world around us is rarely if ever so un-socialized that we are simply observing, but rather, it is affected by subtle and not so subtle self-serving or socio-centric biases that reinforce the equilibrium of our self-concept, our cultural identities, or the organizational and social systems in which we are embedded (Argyris and Schön, 1974; Chandler and Torbert, 2003; Schein, 1999). (p. 2)

we are constantly constructing the meaning of the world we perceive, adding values, hypotheses of causality, and narratives that reinforce our own sense of identity. (p. 3)

Focus of attention Example
The world out there What my senses recognize
The world in me How I interpret and understand reality
The world as I know it How I make meaning of reality
The world with which I am consciously in relationship How I pay attention to myself and am in relationship to the world in action
p. 3-4

It is helpful for the action researcher to be able to identify habits based on previous experience and to let them go when they are not applicable to the current phenomenon. (p. 6)

A key capacity for the action research facilitator is the ability to create the conditions and processes for an inquiry group to lead change. One way that capacity is developed is through understanding how one knows. (p. 7)

The author needed to let this fear go to move from a mindset focused on scarcity, i.e. the three absent faculty members - to one of abundance, making space to acknowledge with gratitude those who did show up. (p. 11)


We discuss this practice as a whole as triple loop awareness, the praxis of a conscious integration of being, knowing, and doing that requires a willingness to revise unwanted habits of cognition and to adapt in the midst of action. Triple loop awareness demands continuous learning - which we describe in terms of the intention to consciously reshape our intentions, purpose, and motives while in-action. This posture requires a significant degree of vulnerability and openness to intentional adaptation for the action researcher, yet we propose that this vulnerability is necessary for mutual, timely, and transforming action. (p. 11)

In writing of conceptual structures termed problematics, Giroux (1988) explained, ‘problematics refer not only to what is included in a worldview, but also to what is left out and silenced. That which is not said is as important as that which is said’ (p. 4). It is this premise that leads me to the important realization that in the doing of action research with preservice teachers, specifically research that is grounded in my conversations and interactions with my own students, the absence from an analysis of conversations has often been an inclusion of silence. This lack is not because the silences have not been present, but because either they have not been recognized, or they have been ‘silenced’. It