Questions for 2012 Conference Keynote Presentations

Dr Jack Whitehead

The questions I have are based on the work of Dr. Ben Kirshner out of CU Boulder. He has been experimenting with using action research with marginalized urban youth to solve community problems. My questions are; Do you think that the AR process could be extended to involve youth? If so, what ages do you think would best grasp and benefit from the AR process? And, how do you think the process might best be adapted to fit within this construct (to be most appropriate for these ages of youth)?
One of the questions I have based on my experience doing AR: AR is an effective way for teacher to improve their practice, but is extremely time consuming to document everything. Will it still be an AR, if the outcomes and the reflections are shared and discussed verbally in collaboration with others (teachers, administrators ...) instead of writing.
In the course of my action research, I have discovered ways of engaging students that have been historically problematic for their teachers and schools. However, this initial success resulted in multiple transfers of these student types from other classes and teachers into my program. I sought to act in creative compliance by accepting these transfers, as well as modify my practice to accomodate these new challenges. As these transfers increased, however, it became progressively more difficult to maintain the program. The more effort I put into my program of research, the more teachers and administrators came to see my creative compliance as permission for them to contain problematic students through transfer into my program. While I could have refused transfers that exceeded my contracted load, I felt that such a refusal would have been contrary to the values of my research. Ironically, this compliance was seen by some as threatening to established traditions, and actions were taken against my program in response.
I understand that Action Research arises out of a sense of frustration that one's values are not reflected in their practice, or place of practice. At some point, however, is it not better to simply move to another place of practice? As an emerging researcher, I would be interested in hearing if you have had such experiences - and what reflections of your own you've had as a result.

Dr. Carl Bereiter and Dr. Marlene Scardamalia

In your book Surpassing Ourselves, you write that the knowledge building community model " the best preparation we can currently imagine for future expert roles..." This openness to later knowledge advancement took me aback as I read it - but given the context of the very model you were advocating, it made perfect sense. And yet - nearly twenty years later today, has your opinion of knowledge building communities as the best preparation for future expert roles changed? Or, perhaps, has your envisioning of the knowledge building community model within schools (especially public ones) changed due to the advent of new technologies and new institutional challenges?

Dr. E. Alana James
  • How does business environment affect the honesty/transparency of reported results? What is the role of diplomacy in sharing action research results, especially when cycles fail