The Action Research Podcast – Episode 15: Democratizing Knowledge Production in Action Research

By Vanessa Gold

    The Action Research Podcast – Episode 15: Democratizing Knowledge Production in Action Research

    About the Author

    Vanessa Gold
    PhD student
    Montréal, CA
    1 Article Published
    Vanessa Gold

    I am a PhD student at McGill University looking at Educational and Organizational Change and Leadership in secondary schools. Part of my current process is narrowing the scope of several intersecting interests including school change initiatives, interpersonal dynamics, educational leadership, student voice, and action research. Much like action research, my trajectory continues to be in an iterative spiral of experience, reflection, and action. 

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    This article is a review of an episode of the Action Research Podcast. In Episode 15, co-hosts Adam Stieglitz (PhD candidate) and Dr. Joe Levitan talked with Dr. Lonnie Rowell about important issues within Action Research, knowledge democratization, and the variety of approaches to action research.

    The Action Research Podcast is a way to bring academic endeavors, particularly research initiatives, to life. Each episode offers rich dialogical engagement between co-hosts Adam and Joe and renowned action researchers from the field. Topics discussed range from deconstructing reflexivity to democratizing education to acting to learn and learning to act. Ultimately, the Action Research Podcast is meant to be an engaging resource for scholars, students, and practitioners alike.

    Democratizing Knowledge Production in Action Research: Review by Vanessa Gold

    In Episode 15 of the Action Research Podcast, co-hosts Adam Stieglitz (PhD candidate) and Dr. Joe Levitan talk to Dr. Lonnie Rowell about important issues within Action Research, knowledge democratization, and the variety of action research approaches. Lonnie is the president of the Social Publishers Foundation, a founder of the Action Research Network of the Americas or ARNA, and a retired professor at the University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences. As one of the key organizers of the contemporary Action Research movement, Lonnie provides a rich historic perspective of the field and its evolution as well as important insights on the strengths, gaps, and possibilities of this methodology.

    The episode begins with a “lightning round” of Q&A where the goal is to answer critical questions in the shortest amount of time. So, what is Action Research according to Lonnie? It is “a way of approaching two things: one is knowledge creation and two is social change” (AR Podcast Episode 15). Another key Q&A question launches Adam, Joe, and Lonnie into a deep exploration of Who is Action Research? Who holds knowledge? Who holds power? and Who creates acceptable forms of knowledge?  For Lonnie, “in its genuine form, Action Research can be done by anyone” (AR Podcast Episode 15). The “who” of Action Research also involves layers of reflexivity, positionality, assumptions, and diverse contexts.

    When doing Action Research, it is really important to think about the relationships between researchers and the community members they work with. For example, when it comes to knowledge creation, the work academics produce is institutionally incentivized and valued. Whereas, in the context of practitioners–in schools for example–despite the proliferation of informal classroom action research, practitioners are limited by access to resources, incentives, and platforms to share their work. Further still, knowledge created as a result of practitioner informed Action Research is further impeded by perceptions of value.

    How might we best navigate this division between academically based Action Research and community-based work? Action Researchers often struggle with “epistemicide” – when one epistemology causes the death of another. Action Researchers must work to find equal footing for multiple and intersecting epistemologies to exist and thrive. Working in the current age of technology and access to information, Action Researchers must also learn to work in a field of diverse epistemological contexts so to best dialogue with and serve communities. Knowledge democratization and Action Research go hand in hand, and according to Adam, Joe, and Lonnie, it starts with listening, empathy, and dialogue. The Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) is an example of a resource addressing this need.

    The SPF is an online platform that supports the dissemination of “practice-based research evidence.” As an Action Research project in and of itself, it is positioned to iteratively respond to the needs of its contributors while mobilizing and elevating the work happening in communities.

    Link to hear Episode 15:

    Suggested Reading List

    Beck, C. (2017). Informal action research: The nature and contribution of everyday classroom inquiry. In Palgrave international handbook of action research (pp. 37-48). Palgrave Macmillan.

    Boyer, E. L. (1996). The scholarship of engagement. Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 49(7), 18-33.

    Del Pino, M., & Ferrada, D. (2019). Construction of educational knowledge with the Mapuche community through dialogical-kishu kimkelay ta che research. Educational Action Research, 27(3), 414-434.

    Freire, P. (1970, 1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum.

    Horton, M., & Freire, P. (1990). We make the road by walking: Conversations on education and social change (Edited by B. Bell, J. Gaventa, & J. Peters). Temple University Press.

    Neill, A. S. (1960). Summerhill: A radical approach to child rearing. Hart Publishing.

    Pine, G. J. (2008). Teacher action research: Building knowledge democracies. Sage.

    Rappaport, J. (2020). Cowards Don’t Make History: Orlando Fals Borda and the Origins of Participatory Action Research. Duke University Press.

    To cite this work, please use the following reference:

    Gold, V. (2021, March 10). The Action Research Podcast – Episode 15: Democratizing Knowledge Production in Action Research. Social Publishers Foundation.

    Copyrighted by Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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