Emergent reflections

A space where I can digest some thinking through the writing process - liminal, emergent and reflective.

Ask me a question and I'll show you a river

Margaret.OCONNELL's picture

I slipped in to Ernie and Sue's pre-conference workshop at about 11am after being held up by uncharacteristic fog and making a detour to Mildura for a short time, before finally landing in Adelaide.

Ernie and Sue were talking about supervising post-graduate action research dissertations, and we broke out into smaller groups to discuss the impact of our research on the greater elements and vica versa... so I've distilled in a visual way, how I might approach my research (harking back to my earlier explanations)...

Situated learning >>> Participatory

what is VETresearch?

"I'd ask it this way..."


"Where is the 'evidence' in our teaching?"










So, in this first image, I am considering my research as situated learning, where the research process is partiticpatory. The tought bubble indicates my own thinking. My speech bubble indicates how I'd translate my thinking for others. The blank call out is left blank because I don't yet know what teachers' responses will be to such questions! What I'm trying to do here is link the setting/context with the research activities themselves.

Transformative >>> Emergent

How will we research?

"Let's try it this way..."


"Not sure, but how can we find out?"









Again, this image follws as the first one: I have an idea of what I hope to learn, then convey this to teacher/participants and then see what arises in them as part of the emergent design process. 

Critical >>> Inquiry

research stance?










In all this, it is PRAXIS that is being exposed, both through the research process but also through the immersive engagement (as an insider anthropologist might) within the field site that is the teachers' own settings.



The critical to inquiry elements above are to help me think about the possible politicisation fo the reserach itself, but also to see the critical process as a process of inquiry that is reflective of not only the setting but of the research process itself. 

This is my visual conclusion/interpretation of our discussion where I am drawing on some of Ernie's points about AR and how it can be enacted...some key points:

  • it's always about the people
  • listen actively (and hear actively, drawing both the internal and the external factors)
  • the relationships DO matter (so build them!)
  • allow room for the river, yet think about how you distill the process (and arrive somewhere along the rivierbank to write that!)

In our small group, during the discussion process in the workshop, we talked about the political settings in which we work (health, nursing, education, VET) and considred how the participatory process can often be a pseudo-empowering process (how can you empower those who are already autonomous, accountable, etc - like nursing in critical care situations), and still engage them in an action learning/research process (should that be your method of choice, so to speak).

I thought of the participatory aspects of AR as being emergent (in a Guba and Lincoln sense) and certainy felt the political aspects (and socioeconomic aspects) of my current work situation adn the broader picture that included the pressure of curtailing the skills shortage 'crisis', plus an aging VET teaching w orkforce. So, it was lovely to be able to articulate shared concerns about AR with others who are grappling with these issues and still feel somewhat sane! :o)

More later...!

Dianne.ALLEN's picture

Thanks for the transport to the conference

This outcome of your engagement in part of the pre-conference deliberations helps me sense a little of what is going on there, from 'my place'.

Have I missed something? or were the group call-outs (if this is what you call them) intentionally blank?  In which case, I think I have still missed something.

Dianne Allen KIAMA, NSW

Margaret.OCONNELL's picture

Blank call outs

Hi Di!

I had blank call-outs to get the conversation going as you have done! :o)

I'm currently left with the questions that only the participants in my research might ask - so thus the blank call-outs...i have yet to get their questions...

I'm trying to build up a picture of how the emergent design process might unfold, to see if I can pick up the concerns and challenges early on... I'm more confident about the content than th eprocess, so want to explore to process further...

Cheers, Marg :o)

View my activities at

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