Reason & Bradbury, 2001

Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (Eds.). (2001). Conclusion: Broadening the Bandwidth of Validity: Issues and Choice-points for Improving the Quality of Action Research. In Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 343–351). London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.

Extracted Annotations (2019-11-24, 7:24:57 PM)

For the academic community, we see this chapter on the issue of quality as initiating and sustaining an engaging conversation among action researchers and between action research and non-action researchers (p. 344)

In joining this debate to add voices from action research we hope to broaden the 'bandwidth' of concerns associated with the question of what constitutes good knowledge research/practice. (p. 344)

To some measure we hereby also stand upon the shoulders of the scholars who have preceded us in their concern for continuing but shifting the dialogue about validity from a concern with idealist questions in search of 'Truth' to concern for engagement, dialogue, prag­matic outcomes and an emergent, reflexive sense of what is important. (p. 344)

because the discourse is inextricably bound to the ideals of positivism. Wolcott (1990) has argued for dismissing validity altogether, precisely (p. 344)

Choice-points for Action Research (p. 345)

Each theory of the way the world is gives rise to particular ways of seeing the world. In the Introduction we have argued that action research emerges from a participative way of seeing or act­ ing in the world in which we find ourselves always in relationship. (p. 345)

Gustavsen writes that 'both our theoretical worlds and our life world [or lived experience] are necessary and cannot be substituted. More theory cannot fill the vacuum of a lack of experience and more experience cannot bring more order into an uninterpreted world' (1996: 94). (p. 345)

A participative worldview draws our attention to the qualities of the participative-relational practices in our work. Issues of interdependence, politics, power and empowerment must be addressed at both micro- and macro-levels, that is, in inquiring rela­tionships in face-to-face and small-group interac­tion, about how the research is situated in its wider political context. (p. 345)

As we participate with people, oriented by our shared concerns and interests, the practical outcome of our work is important. (p. 345)

As we participate, our knowledge of the world includes, but is never limited to, conceptual or intellectualized forms of knowledge, most often associ­ated with the traditional academic enterprise. (p. 345)

A mark of quality in an action research project is that people will get energized and empowered by being involved, through which they may develop newly useful, reflexive insights as a result of a growing critical consciousness. (p. 345)

Each particular way of knowing raises questions concerning quality in its own right. How well is an inquiry experientially grounded? How is it embodied in. sensuous knowing? What is the appropriate form of presentation given the audience? Is it aesthetically elegant? Is it conceptually clear to all involved? Does it promote further knowing by raising new ques­tions, or by allowing us to 'see through' old concep­tual frameworks so that these are newly experienced as more limiting than enabling? By drawing on and integrating diverse ways of knowing, ideally people will say of action research work, 'that is true, that is right, that is interesting, engaging, thought provok­ing'. And as action researchers we must ask about how the palette of extended ways of knowing is acknowledged in and by our work. (p. 346)

As Hall (2001) points out, participatory research is an attitude, a way of creating knowing in action, possi­bly even a way of life, not just simply a method. So a question for action researchers is whether they have drawn on the different methodological tradi­tions appropriately and creatively in the context of their own work. (p. 346)

Our fifth broad issue concerns thinking through the developmental quality of our work through its history and into the future. (p. 346)

Second-person collaborative inquiry is something that has to be grown over time, moving from tentative beginning to full co-operation. Participatory action research is emergent and evo­lutionary: you cannot just go to a village or an orga­nization or a professional group and 'do it', but rather the work evolves (or does not) through mutual engagement and influence. (p. 346)

Further, because we are participating in work of enduring conse­quence, we must attend to the question of viability in the longer term (third-person research/ practice). We must therefore ask whether the work was seeded in such a way that participation could be sustained in the absence of the initiating researcher? We must create a living interest in the work. (p. 346)

What seems important in action research, which leaves new institutional pat­ terns in its wake, is its ability to integrate the three manifestations of work: for oneself ('first-person research practice'), work for partners ('second person research practice') and work for people in the wider context ('third-person research prac­tice'). (p. 346)

Perhaps it is not by accident that it is those using action research and writing a dissertation (see Baldwin and Bradbury, Chapters 19 and 21 respectively) who particularly emphasize the issue of conceptual-propositional integrity. Others, much longer in the field, and per­ haps thereby more able to define their own relation­ ship to academic forms of knowledge, have privileged pragmatic concerns (see Swantz, Ndedya and Masaiganah, Chapter 27). Both sets of action researchers attend to issues of pragmatic outcome and conceptual-propositional integrity, but they do so in different measures. (p. 347)

An Examination of the Issues and Choice-points with Reference to Exemplars and Practices (p. 347)

1 Qualify as Relational Praxis (p. 347)

2 Quality as Reflexive-Practical Outcome (p. 348)

An important question to ask, therefore, is whether the research is 'validated' by participants' new ways of acting in light of the work? In the simplest sense people should be able to say 'that was useful - 1 am using what I learned! ' (p. 348)

3 Quality as Plurality of Knowing 3a Quality through conceptual-theoretical integrity (p. 348)

In developing conceptual-theoretical integrity we may wish to draw on current qualitative and ethno­ graphic practices of making sense of data (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994, 2000). We might also ask if our new theory allows us to re-see the world, or see through taken-for-granted conceptual categories that are oppressive or no longer helpful. Lewis (Chapter 24) shows us that the notion that ordinary people are too ignorant to work with scientific information is simply not true. (p. 348)

3b Quality through extending our ways of knowing (p. 348)

3c Quality through methodological appropriateness (p. 349)

4 Quality as engaging in significant work (p. 349)

While few other contributions explicitly address what is worthwhile, it can of course be argued that any participative form of inquiry, well-grounded in the everyday concerns of people, will necessarily be worthwhile. (p. 349)

This is particularly so if it moves beyond addressing simply technically-oriented questions towards engagement with emancipatory questions - in which case people's capacity for asking questions of deeper significance is devel­oped. (p. 349)

5 Emergent Inquiry towards Enduring Consequence (p. 350)

We have noticed the repeated criticisms of exist­ing institutional structures, especially universities. We are interested to note that action research seems to thrive where institutions have been intention­ally created to support, sustain and legitimate it. The Society for Participatory Research in Asia and the Highlander Research and Education Center; the Work Research Institute in Norway; and our own institutional homes, the Department of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University and the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice at the University of Bath, all offer good examples of ongoing institutions from the civic, the quasi-governmental and the academic realms which sustain action research practice. (p. 350)

The integration of the three aspects of action research (first-, second and third-person) suggests that sustaining the work of action research is often the outcome of a logic of structurated action in which the dyadic or small-group micro-engagement of people working on a project together convened around an area of mutual concern manifests in an ongoing new patterning of behaviours at a more macro-level. (p. 350)

Broadening the Bandwidth of Validity Concerns in Research/Practice (p. 350)

What we hope we have done is sketch out the basis for some of the ques­tions that need to be asked by an individual action researcher and by action research communities. (p. 350)

We believe it is helpful to address all questions if only to say why one is more important than the other. Thus when next asked how big one's 'n' was or what to do about the fact that one's data must be considered contaminated by interests or that the co­ inquirers were all self-selected, the action research may refer to the differing axiomatic assumptions in action research which arise from a worldview and lived experience of participation. We suggest that the action researcher seek to expand the conversa­tion about validity to include the broader bandwidth of considerations that inhere in research/practice in search of a world worthy of our lives. (p. 351)

Issues as choice-points and questions for quality in action research:
Is the action research:

  • Explicit in developing a praxis of relational participation?
  • Guided by reflexive concern for practical outcomes?
  • Inclusive of a plurality of knowing?
  • Ensuring conceptual-theoretical integrity?
  • Embracing ways of knowing beyond the intellect?
  • Intentionally choosing appropriate research methods?
  • Worthy of the term significant?
  • Emerging towards a new and enduring infrastructure? (p. 351)

Consider your evolving action research question and choose one of the 5 choice points articulated by Bradbury and Reason (2001) in the Conclusion chapter p. 346-350 for quality action research. For example you could consider your question in light of Choice Point #5 - Enduring Consequence. What might be your hope for ongoing action and change (even small in scope) of your action research project? For this Discussion Post - provide a beginning statement of your ideas for your action research project and what you will need to think about in order to work toward your selected Choice Point.

My planned AR project involves working with the Indigenous Education department at UVic to support the work of Indigenous educators to build digital competencies with educators and learners in the department with the goal of increasing their willingness and ability to practice digital self-determination and reclaim their online identity. Digital self-determination refers to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for people to present themselves as whole and fully realized persons using digital tools which protect the flow of personal and community data from being weaponized by governments and corporations invested in surveillance capitalism [@zuboffShoshanaZuboffDigital2014].

Q - How can open digital technologies enable and empower Indigenous learners to practice digital self-determination in higher ed?

Reason and Bradbury's fifth broad concern for quality in AR is that AR projects be aimed at building new and enduring infrastructure in institutions (like universities and governments) such that the project may live on beyond the tenure of the researcher. In working towards this, I need to, first of all, attend to the first broad concern that the project be grounded in a deeply relational practice which begins with me exploring my ancestral roots as a settler. Following that, and based in those relationships, I need to, as Reason and Bradbury state, "create a living interest in the work" (p. 346). Creating a living interest in this work can only happen in relationship. In the end, my hope is that the Indigenous Education department is fully capable of sustaining an ongoing project to empower and enable Indigenous learners to be digitally self-determined.