Myspace to explore action learning, action research of mypractices, one of which is learning to act and research of action - what I call the reflexive turn: subject-becomes-object-becomes-subject

My Research: Current Learning-by-doing activity and problem posing vignette

Dianne.ALLEN's picture

The practice I am currently engaging in is something akin to coaching, or mentoring, or trying to operate as a peer, with others currently engaged with activities similar to my recent activity: teaching, or learning, or teaching teachers, or undertaking thesis studies, or mentoring, or coaching, or perhaps peer supervision, or engaging in peer support with its co-construction of knowledge.   In undertaking that practice, I continue to draw on, and lean on, Jack Whitehead’s formulation of the practice related questions: 1. How do I improve my practice?   2. How do I help you improve your learning?   3. How do I live my values more fully in my practice? 

At this point, as a consequence of interactions with a number of people over the past 9-18 months or so, I am on the verge of trying to review the data I have collected about that practice, with a view to trying to draft an article for a journal (maybe ALAR Journal) about my early stage of learning. Previously, in my thesis, I captured the following as a description of my process

 “From the experience of this inquiry, and reflecting on previous practice, I would describe my approach to learning-by-doing as follows:

·          Round one: doing and observing, observing as much as possible, and trying to do what appears to need to be done

·          Round two: describing the doing – if possible working at something like procedures documentation

·          Round three: doing it again – using the procedural documentation, and now identifying where the doing, to be effective, is different from the procedure documentation, capturing gaps, elaborating on aspects of subtlety that need to be recognised and accommodated or responded to

·          Round four: describing the enhanced understanding of the doing

·          Round five: considering how else it might be done – considering what is the purpose of a certain activity, considering how effectively that is achieved, and considering what other activity might achieve that same purpose (assuming the purpose is still acceptable)

·          Round six: doing it again, and confirming the enhanced description’s accuracy and comprehensiveness, and trialling any changes suggested from round five

·          Round three and six options: showing someone else how to do it, and using the documented records, with their process structuring, to help do that, and to test the effectiveness of those records and that structuring for such demonstration and teaching 

“In the past, I would have justified rounds two-four as preparations for training others to do it (round three and six).   In rounds 3, and 6, the doing it, and doing it again, was part of my evaluative process – doing it demonstrated to me that I did know and understand ‘it’ enough to do it without mistake, without hesitation, at a level where if a problem occurred, then I had some ideas or could develop some ideas about how to solve it.   Until all of these items were in place, then I tended to (1) forget all too quickly, or (2) doubt that the learning had been effective. “In rounds 3, and 6, doing it again, and in the context of confirming the documentation, allowed me to attend to more understanding of the task – I could begin to attend to the next layer of implications beyond the superficial.   I would begin to recognise that a next layer existed, as well as find out what was in that layer, and how what was in that layer contributed to what could be seen, the superficial, and to the apparently effortless performance demonstrated by the competent.”    (Thesis, 2005, p.74-75) 

I have this as a ‘benchmark’ of my understood practice.   I also have the field notes/ reflective notes I have compiled as I have engaged in interactions over the past 9-18 months or so.   In some cases those field notes include email and website conversations.   In some cases there are contemporary audio files of interactions. 

I am asking myself questions like:

  • How do I go about establishing (informally) a mentoring relationship?
  • What appears to be working for me and the other party to the relationship?
  • What appears to be operating when such a relationship does not develop to the fullest extent that I would hope for it?
  • What could I say to the field (of evidence-based coaching, or mentoring, or peer supervision) about the early steps in learning to do this practice?
  • What do the observations, recorded at the time, show about what is involved for me, in such activity?
  • Is what I do really represented by the summary I ‘published’ in my thesis?
  • What am I learning as I engage in these sorts of activities?
  • How am I learning what I am learning?
  • Further, in the light of feedback that I have given, formally, to a class of masters’ students undertaking studies entitled ‘Introduction to Research and Inquiry’, can I identify a ‘problem posing vignette’ – a story of a practice incident – that encapsulates what is at the forefront of what I need to be investigating in order to try and improve my practice?
  • And, now, where do I reasonably direct my focus, so that the most important learning, for me, gets the attention it needs to generate the information that might lead to improvement of practice?