As a team, we were overall mindful in our perspectives and assumptions, asking each other difficult questions to interrogate and provoke our group knowing (McCallum and Nicolaides, 2015). Enlarging this reflexive approach, our in-class component tested our assumptions and values as researchers that limit what we include, and more importantly what we exclude from data collection and analysis (Armstrong, 2004; Collins, 2004; Mazzei, 2007, p. 633; Meyer & Fels, 2009). Representing only a few voices from the class, we as a group decided we were open to being vulnerable and having our choices challenged by the larger class of co-researchers, as evidenced by our in-class activity.
However, our focus sometimes became too wrapped up in the product, losing sight of our purpose, research question, and our self-reflexivity in the process (Collins, 2004, p. 358). This may be most evident in the original three categories of images created, where “community” is defined broadly and the categories lose sense of the classroom context of the original research question. Whilst these original categories were chosen to spark creativity, imagination, and a diverse collage of images for the website, the quickly chosen categories lost touch with their raison d’être. Product often took precedence over process when there was a shared feeling of pressure, stress, and lack of time, a “negative charge” that overshadowed the team with worry (McCallum & Nicolaides, 2017, p. 10). If we were to do this again, I think beginning by articulating our research purpose and goals, and keeping those central as a shared framework would be useful in balancing the process and end product.
As a teammate and co-researcher, I struggled to transform being into doing. While I was aware of my emotions, relation to others, my attention, and the “complexity of the moment”, triple loop awareness was out of my reach in that I was unable to be attentive and present to all these phenomena simultaneously (McCallum & Nicolaides, 2017, p. 4). What resulted was on my part was an overemphasis on my worries about the success of our project and the fear of not knowing. To resolve these worries, I tried to lend a leadership or project management hand, but the results were that my voice was louder than others, thus silencing other perspectives. While I wrestle with the question of whether or not a leader is a necessary feature of an action research project, more resonant for me right now is the message from McCallum and Nicolaides’ (2015) suggestion to take “an extra breath”, to open space for new options and action to emerge (p. 6). I fell victim to my fears of uncertainty, vulnerability and failures at the expense of creativity, plurality, and process. As a beginner action researcher, what I need to work on most is myself, and changing my mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
Armstrong, F. (2004). Action Research for Inclusive Education. In Action Research for Inclusive Education. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203596012
Collins, S. (2004). Ecology and ethics in participatory collaborative action research: An argument for the authentic participation of students in eduational research. Educational Action Research, 12(3), 347–362. https://doi.org/10.1080/09650790400200255
Mazzei, L. A. (2007). Toward a problematic of silence in action research. Educational Action Research, 15(4), 631–642. https://doi.org/10.1080/09650790701664054
McCallum, D., & Nicolaides, A. (2017). Cultivating Intention (As we Enter the Fray): The Skillful Practice of Embodying Presence, Awareness, and Purpose as Action Researchers. The SAGE Handbook of Action Research, 643–652. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473921290.n67
Meyer, K., & Fels, L. (2009). Breaking out: Learning research from The Women in Prison Project. International Review of Qualitative Research, 2(2), 269-290.