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Doing action research in organizations: Using communicative spaces to facilitate (transformative) professional learning

Blog post by Sandra Eady

Have you ever wondered what triggers learning that transforms the way you see the world, interact with your work colleagues or ask questions that really transform the way you understand how systems and structures drive your practice? This has been a central theme of our work across professions which started a couple of years ago at an inter-professional workshop we attended.  The workshop hosted by our multi-national, Professional Practice, Education and Learning (ProPEL) network, considered professional learning from different professions doing action research. proPEL copy As we looked more closely at what was learned by professionals engaging in various forms of action research, it became clear that much of the learning that became transformative in the way it changed the way professionals understood dilemmas went beyond the initial action research project itself.  Like others we realized that an important factor was how communicative space was created, sustained and utilized.  What we came to value was that spaces situated outside rather than within the work place appeared to provide the greatest opportunities for transformative learning. As we began to look at what happened in these communicative spaces we also began to realize that university tutors supporting the action research play a pivotal role not only in the way they create, and maintain communicative space but also in the way they purposefully employ strategies to interrupt and challenge the viewpoints assumptions and practices held by professionals. The paper published here draws upon two examples (from Education and Community Nursing) to illustrate how such communicative spaces can provide opportunities for learning to become transformative.

So we ask you, what strategies do you use to facilitate transformative professional learning? We’d love to hear about your strategies. Please join us for discussion in the forums!

Sandra Eady

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