Participatory Action Research

A key aspect of my work since the late 1970s has been in developing the theory and practice of educational action research.  Together with colleagues at Deakin and elsewhere, I have advocated “emancipatory action research” as a participatory form of research and evaluation which embodies the aspirations of a critical science of education.  Participatory action research (PAR) is a way of working which helps teachers, students and communities to work individually and collectively in developing their practices, their understandings of their practices, and the situations in which they live and work – to transform the work, the worker and the workplace.
My publications on action research include: Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge and Action Research (with Wilfred Carr) Falmer Press and Deakin University Press 1986; The Action Research Planner (with Robin McTaggart and others;  fourth edition, Deakin University Press, 1988); and the edited volume The Action Research Reader (also with Robin McTaggart and others), fourth edition, Deakin University Press, 1988;  the articles on action research for the first and second editions of The International Encyclopedia of Education: Research and Studies (second edition 1994; Pergamon Press London);  “Foucault, Habermas and Evaluation” (Curriculum Studies, 1993, vol.1, no.1, pp.35-54);  a (September 1995) monograph prepared for the Innovative Links Project of the National Professional Development Program, Action research and communicative action:  Changing teaching practices and the organization of teachers’ work;  “Emancipatory Aspirations in a Postmodern Era” (Curriculum Studies, 1995, vol.3, no.2, pp.133-167); the chapter “Action Research Exemplary Projects:  The Asturias Project” in Jennifer Angwin (ed.) The Essence of Action Research (Deakin Centre for Education and Change, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, 1998).  I was co-editor (with Bill Atweh and Patricia Weeks) of Action Research in Practice:  Partnerships for Social Justice in Education (Routledge, London, 1998), a volume reporting the work of a group of participatory action research projects connected with the Queensland University of Technology (including three chapters of which I was co-author).  With Robin McTaggart, I co-authored the chapter “Participatory Action Research” in The International Handbook on Qualitative Research (2nd edition, edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, Sage Publications, 2000) and a substantially revised version “Participatory Action Research:  Communicative Action and the Public Sphere” (Chapter 23 in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, editors, Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edition, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 2005).  I also wrote the chapter “Critical Theory and Action Research” for the International Handbook on Action Research (Hilary Bradbury and Peter Reason, editors, Sage publications, 2001).  In 2005, Wilfred Carr and I wrote “Staying Critical” for a special issue of the Journal of Educational Action Research (special issue commemorating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Carr and Kemmis, Becoming Critical:  Education, Knowledge and Action Research, vol.13, no.3).

In 2004, John Retallick worked with Robin McTaggart and me to produce a revised version of the short 2nd edition of The Action Research Planner to be used in developing countries (published in Karachi, Pakistan by the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development).  In 2004-5, I have been working with Robin McTaggart and Zeffie Nicholasin the preparation of a substantially revised version of the third edition of the Planner to appear as a book whose working title is Participatory Research in Education.

My interest in participatory action research has led me into a close study of the nature of practice, especially in the professions.  As one of the international contributors at an invitational conference on practice in Umeä, Sweden, I presented a paper “Knowing practice:  Searching for saliences” (which appears, in a slightly revised form, in Pedagogy, Culture and Society, special issue on practice, vol.13, no.3).  Some of these ideas were further developed in my “Is mathematics education a practice? Mathematics teaching?” (in Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Mathematics, Education and Society,  Brisbane, Griffith University, 2005).

I was Congress Advocate (previously known as Patron) of the Joint 5th World Congress on Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management (ALARPM) and 9th World Congress on Participatory Action Research held in Ballarat, Victoria, in September 2000.  During the Congress, I contributed a paper “Leadership:  Less is More” to a symposium on leadership in action research.  With Roslin Brennan Kemmis, I presented a keynote address, “Making and writing the history of the future together: Exploratory action in participatory action research” at the Congreso Internacional de Educación (Congreso V Nacional y III Internacional), Córdoba, Argentine Republic, October 9 – 11, 2003.