Appreciating situations of breakdown for researcher reflexivity. ARJ article by Danielle Treacy

image by Jan Rosström

A blog by Danielle Treacy.

“In a recent cross-cultural research project that aimed to co-develop music teacher education (, I worked collaboratively with educators in Kathmandu, Nepal. I intentionally used appreciative inquiry to navigate ethical issues related to power and ethnocentrism. Long after the project had ended, unintended consequences and situations caused me feelings of worry and confusion. Things hadn’t always gone as I had expected or hoped. Rather than simply ignoring these situations of breakdown, I chose to appreciate them for their potential to teach me something about doing research and being a researcher.   

My most significant learning from this experience was about the process of identifying and generating new understandings of breakdowns. This process itself is a powerful approach for stimulating researcher reflexivity. In ART it is called “developmental reflexivity.”

I learned that one reason facilitating a process of co-constructing visions with musician-teachers in Kathmandu was challenging is because envisioning together (dreaming) is a capacity. And as such it is something that needs to be developed through practice and experience. I also became more interested in listening and, in particular, how to better facilitate spaces that cultivate listening for and appreciating difference. Through this process, I came to better understand myself as a participant, not just a researcher, in the inquiry.

My critical reflection also highlights how appreciation risks being instrumentalised in research. I therefore emphasise the need for sincere appreciation, which I describe as a relational way of being that involves openness to learn from experience and through a high degree of reflexivity.

I believe that other researchers, especially those aspiring to work with Action Research for Transformations (ART), can also benefit from reflecting on situations of breakdown in their work. I invite you to try it yourself, and to share your insights from doing so with others.

Danielle’s full article is accessible here and at the ‘forever’ DOI link:

And have a listen in on Danielle Treacy (author)  and Marina Apgar (Associate Editor with ARJ) who did an interview together to complete the paper writing process. 

Danielle Treacy (author)  and Marina Apgar (Associate Editor with ARJ) complete the article writing process in dialogue.