Taking Yourself Seriously: A Fieldbook of Processes of Research and Engagement (revised & expanded)

A field-book of tools and processes to help readers in all fields develop as researchers, writers, workshop facilitators, 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 four 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;
  • Creative Habits for Synthesis of theory and practice; and
  • Connecting-Probing-Reflecting Spaces, in which participants support and learn from each other’s inquiries.

Researchers and writers working under these frameworks participate especially in Dialogue around Written Work, Making Space for Taking Initiative In and Through Relationships, and Refractive Practice—pausing to take stock and identify alternative paths before proceeding. These processes help researchers and writers align their questions and ideas, aspirations, ability to take or influence action, and relationships with other people. Many of 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. Think-pieces that make up the final section recount passages in the authors’ ongoing journeys, providing points of departure for readers’ own explorations and affirming everyone’s ability to experiment and shape their own work and lives.


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.

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