Conversations with my Future Self – Reflections of my MALAT Experiences

Unit 2, Cultures of Inquiry, Residency, End of Week 1 (July 22)

Situating Your Research

My first week of residency has brought a whole new dimension of understanding to several different research traditions I had reviewed during pre-residency. Interacting with my classmates and listening to their own perspectives of the research traditions found in Bentz & Shapiro (1998) has helped me expand on some of my original perspectives, while clarifying others.

Action research caught my attention during pre-residency reading as something I could most relate to.  According to Bentz & Shapiro, action research’s intention “is to influence or change a system, and the values are those of participation, self-determination, empowerment through knowledge, and change.” (p. 127)  Working with adults in corporate training, my primary motivator, what really keeps me going, is knowing that I am participating in something that can support real change with the people I am instructing, change in how they approach their life and/or work. Success in what I instruct relies heavily on participants in my class identifying how what they are learning will empower them personally or professionally.

As I look further into the aspects of an action researcher, I recognize personality traits in myself that are reflected on in Bentz & Shapiro (1998), “’action research calls for a person who is action oriented, who is not simply satisfied with understanding, explaining, or predicting something, but also willing and wanting to do something about it” (p. 129).  I am highly motivated when I am challenged to implement training that will change how people work, and am eager to involve not only leadership but front line staff in the development and testing of materials I produce.  I challenge the front line worker to critique and improve on procedures created by leadership, and challenge leadership to integrate front line workers in projects they run.

If action research were the force, I’d surely be a Jedi.

In contrast, critical social theory had me stumped when I first read it.  Not because I didn’t understand its tenants, and how it was described, but because I couldn’t fathom the motivations behind researchers who follow this tradition. How could someone dedicate most, if not all of their lives, to researching something that might not be seen implemented in the span of their life, or even their children’s lives?  Conversation with my scholarly colleagues has helped me correlate this research tradition to social theories that have helped shaped societies (Marxism), and I am eager to look into this more.

Signing off,

Padawan learner, Jedi action research apprentice, Colin



Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

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