Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Carson, T. R. (1986). Closing the gap between research and practice: Conversation as a mode of doing research. Phenomenology and Pedagogy, 4 (2), 73-85.

Research should improve practice. However, the influence of research on practice has traditionally been limited. The conduct of educational research seldom has the explicit goal of improving the practice of study participants, and the language used to report research findings is generally inaccessible to teachers. Carson discusses the use of conversation (as opposed to interview) as a mode of doing research. Four interpretive studies which adopt a normative stance (the intention of the researchers is to influence the practice of the participants) are described with specific attention to uses of conversation. All participants in a conversation (teachers and researchers) seek to deepen their understanding of the topic. The purpose of an interview, on the other hand, is for the researcher to gather information from the teacher. In using conversation, the research stance is to allow meaning to emerge through the language. Conversation is characterized by examples, ostensive references, and recollections; allows for an easy exchange of experiences; bridges the distance between the research community and a community of practitioners; and increases the possibility of a cooperative investigation. Carson concludes, "In the final analysis, the practice of conducting conversations with participants is in itself a form of action which helps forge a reformed practice. By engaging in conversation, researchers are helping to create spaces within educational institutions for thoughtful reflection oriented towards improving practice."

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