Cloud 11 Practice-based research methodology: THE BEGINNING!

Article written by Cloud 11

The first exploratory meeting of this new cloud took place during lunch at the EAPRIL conference 2017 in Hämeenlinna (Finland). The participants assumed, or even were convinced, that practice-based and practitioner research requires specific methodological considerations, choices and strategies. So, it was time for a new cloud in which the methodology of practice-based and practitioner research (PBR) is central. A lot has happened since its foundation. We discussed about relevant content for meetings, about working methods and about possible participants who share our interest in PBR-methodology.

After ample consultation it was decided that Niek van den Berg and Marco Mazereeuw were appointed as coordinators of the cloud. In their first meetings, they decided to ask Lisette Munneke to join as cloud-coordinator. And she agreed, so we are a fellowship of three now. We enjoy our collaboration in working on interesting and relevant cloud-activities for the EAPRIL-community!

We immediately realized that it could be of interest to participants of the cloud to discuss and reflect on professional dilemmas as practice-based and practitioner researchers. Gathering the reflections on these dilemmas may provide an inventory of what PBR researchers encounter and what possibilities PBR-methodology has to offer. And so, we developed a strategy to reflect on professional dilemmas of PBR researchers. Our ambition was also to collect data about these dilemmas and reflections, to gain more insight in the (assumed) specific methodological considerations, choices and strategies in PBR.

In a first spotlight session at the EAPRIL conference 2018 in Portoroz (Slovenia), participants ‘speed-dated’ to get a first impression of each other’s backgrounds and motives to participate. Then, dilemmas of PBR researchers were discussed with various teacher researchers and professional researchers. It was a success. The spotlight session was well attended and the discussion about the dilemma’s was substantive. These discussions yielded insight in the methodological issues at stake and about possible solutions.

In the spotlight session at Portoroz we searched for ways to thoroughly discuss the professional dilemmas in such a way that we can learn from them. From that moment on we have optimized the strategy and made it ready for the next conference. An analytical framework that has the potential to reveal tensions between methodological rigor, practical relevance and ethical responsibility is our starting point. Our research questions therefore read:

  1. What is the nature and content of relevance, rigor and ethics as quality criteria in practice-based or practitioner research?
  2. What interplay between these three quality criteria is manifest in a PBR-study?
  3. How does this interplay connect to the research-practice boundary crossing capabilities of PBR-researchers and stakeholders involved?

Collaboration with Cloud 14 (learning in organizations) and Cloud 13 (starting researchers) resulted in the hypothesis that an educational oragogical goal or a training element influences the rigor, relevance and ethics setting. The collaboration of cloud 11, 13 and 14 also resulted in a Fish Bowl meeting about action research in organizational learning to be held soon after summer 2019. In this meeting we look into professional dilemmas of action researchers and try to gain insight in the possibilities of action research in organizational learning. How could it be otherwise.

And of course, we are preparing new Cloud 11 spotlight sessions for EAPRIL 2019 in Tartu. Feel encouraged to join and dig deeper in professional dilemmas of PBR!