A field-book of tools and processes to help readers in all fields develop as researchers, writers, and agents of change
A wide range of tools and processes for research, writing, and collaboration are defined and described—from Governing Question to GOSP, Plus-Delta feedback to Process Review, and Supportive Listening to Sense of Place Map. The tools and processes are linked to three frameworks that lend themselves to adaptation by teachers and other advisors:
- A set of ten Phases of Research and Engagement, which researchers move through and later revisit in light of other people’s responses to work in progress and what is learned using tools from the other phases;
- Cycles and Epicycles of Action Research, which emphasizes reflection and dialogue to shape ideas about what action is needed and how to build a constituency to implement the change; and
- Creative Habits for Synthesis of theory and practice.
Researchers and writers working under these frameworks participate in Dialogue around Written Work and in Making Space for Taking Initiative In and Through Relationships. These processes help researchers and writers align their questions and ideas, aspirations, ability to take or influence action, and relationships with other people. Bringing those dimensions of research and engagement into alignment is the crux of taking yourself seriously. The tools, processes, and frameworks are illustrated through excerpts from two projects: one engaging adult learning communities in using the principles of theater arts to prepare them to create social change; the other involving collaborative play among teachers in curriculum planning. A final section provides entry points for students and educators to explore insights, experiences, and information from a wider world of research, writing, and engagement in change.
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he directs the Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking and the undergraduate Program on Science, Technology and Values. His research and writing links innovation in teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration with studies of the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context. This combination is evident in his 2005 book, Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (University of Chicago Press).
Jeremy Szteiter is a 2009 graduate of the Critical and Creative Thinking program and now serves as the Program’s Assistant Coordinator. His work has centered around community-based and adult education and has involved managing, developing, and teaching programs to lifelong learners, with an emphasis on a learning process that involves the teaching of others what has been learned and supporting the growth of individuals to become teachers of what they know.
We encourage readers to use comments on this post to describe how they have used tools and processes from the book to develop as researchers, writers, and agents of change.
From the book’s back cover:
Comments on the influence of this book’s approach
“I was able to get engaged in a project that I was able to actually use in work, which was extremely satisfying. The whole process encouraged me, and I felt very empowered as a change agent, which could be an exhilarating feeling.”— a healthcare professional and story-teller
“I really had not been used to thinking about my own thinking, so learning to do that also helped me to slow down and start to look away from the career path that I had been taking for granted.” — a biologist-turned-web designer
“I found that the experience helped me to accept feedback from other professionals. I am more comfortable with listening to why my own ideas might not work or need further evaluation. This even happens to the point where I find reasons now to seek out this kind of feedback.” — a teacher
“I had viewed research as a process of collecting information into a sort of database and reviewing it effectively. I have now revised my notions to include a more broad understanding of interconnectedness between people and ideas. An important part of research is to keep relationships going.” — an adult educator
“One of the most useful ideas was the use of dialogue, which helps to slow down the procedures used by the company. There’s a tension between management’s need to make quick decisions and desire to have real dialogue around proposed changes—changes to the internal company operational procedures as well as to evaluating the quality of what the company is doing with its publications.” — a teacher, currently working in publishing
“I was asked to pay attention to what I actually could do instead of what I could not. This enabled me to (1) step back and let go of a huge technical problem (that I really had no ability or interest to solve), and (2) identify where my actual interest rested and actual skills intersected with what needed to be done. I realized that I could unite my passion to advance visual think- ing with my skills in communication and group facilitation.” — a college librarian
Pingback: Mr G's Idle Musings » Blog Archive » My Diigo 07/10/2012
Pingback: A process for small group, synchronous dialogue in a MOOC environment | Felicia M. Sullivan