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  • 00:16

    ELAINE HALL: So practitioner inquiryis not so much a method, although it'soften associated with action researchbecause action research is a common methodological approachwithin practitioner inquiry.Practitioner inquiry is about the practitioner,whether they're a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor,or a social worker thinking about their work in a verycurious, but also a very systematic way.

  • 00:39

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it might be that it follows the cycles of inquiryas in traditional action search.It might be something that looks more complex and organicfrom general tinkering in the classroomor in the office to something that's an in-depth casestudy or an autoethnography.So practitioner inquiry is actually quite broad.

  • 00:59

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Most of our work in practitioner inquiryhas been quite closely allied to action research methodsbecause we've been working with large groups of practitionersand providing a particular structure.

  • 01:10

    KATE WALL: We're interested in practitionerswho are questioning and wanting to think about how theycan make their practice better.And that's by inquiring into in depth either what's going onor what happens if I change something.And so you see different scenarios playing outand how they explore what's going on.

  • 01:31

    KATE WALL [continued]: And that's one thing about evidence and the evidencethey can collect to know whether what they're doingis making an impact.The most substantial project we've worked on for the last 10years was a project called the Learn to Learn Project.And that was a community of inquirers, practitionerinquirers, that included mostly teachers but from nurserythrough primary, secondary, special Ed, FE, and HE.

  • 01:60

    KATE WALL [continued]: So practitioners across the boardall interested in learning and making better learners.And what was fascinating was that that communityof inquirers was very mutually reinforcing in exploringthe learning and the learners and actually ended upwith the practitioners exploring their own learning almost asmuch as the students in their care.

  • 02:24

    KATE WALL [continued]: So it was 10 years longitudinal study of everyone exploring.And we explored too.So we were also exploring our own learning and the learnersthat we were working with.

  • 02:37

    ELAINE HALL: So one of the key thingsabout practitioner inquiry is that it's collaborative.One of our heroes is Lawrence Stenhouse, who says,people can think for themselves but not by themselves.And what we found is that networks and the kind of talkthat happens in networks particularly,if you've got very little context in common.

  • 02:59

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: You can't complain about the new assessments thathave come in for key stage three geographyif you're sitting next to somebody whoteaches hairdressing and somebody else who teachesnursery kids.You have to talk about pedagogy.You have to talk about learning.And that means that the kind of depth and curiositygets opened up necessarily through that dynamic.And we learned such a lot about what we thought was important,actually being sort of academic noodling, really.

  • 03:26

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: Because what people actually wereinterested in emerged from those conversations.So that's the way in which we wereforced into being like this even if we hadn't been up for that.I don't think you can run that kind of a networkwithout doing it.And Learning to Learn was so successful in termsof what we were interested in and enjoying it so much,that really almost everything else that we'vebeen involved in since then has hadsomething of that flavor to it.

  • 03:53

    KATE WALL: I mean the anecdote that Igave of the power of that network was a nurseryteacher from Cornwall, so teaching threeand four-year-olds standing in the lunchqueue next to a chemical engineerfrom Newcastle University.And the chemical engineer was saying, do you know what?

  • 04:14

    KATE WALL [continued]: My post-graduates can't problem-solve.They come into my classes.They want me to give them all the answers.And they don't think for themselves.And then the nursery teacher is saying, do you know what?My three and four-year-olds come into my class.They can't problem-solve.They come into my classroom.They've had everything done for them by their parents.And so then they work together to come upwith the scenarios of what they could do to make it better.

  • 04:41

    KATE WALL [continued]: And the message take is learners look remarkably similar,whether they're three or whether they're doingtheir post-doctorate study.But exploring that together was a very productive space.

  • 04:58

    ELAINE HALL: In a lot of learning situations,portfolios of evidence are collected for assessment,for example.And it took quite a lot of convincing, I think,for some of the teachers in our projectto recognize that these were data they were answering,not just attainment questions, but alsodispositions questions.

  • 05:18

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: That learners' orientation to learninghow they were feeling about themselves,the complexity of the language that they were using in piecesof written work that were being stored, that might or nothave been the criteria on which that piece of work was marked.But it could be used in a secondary analysis of childrendeveloping more science language, for example,the work of poor black, for example,looking at children's talk and writingto see how those concepts get embedded.

  • 05:47

    ELAINE HALL [continued]: So it was very fertile.And we just think everything is data now.

  • 05:53

    KATE WALL: We work hard to try to demystify the researchprocess.That it is something that can be usefuland is not just for clever people in universities.That it's for clever people in schools and workplaces as well.And there are useful tools that we can bring from academiainto the practice, but they're also good practice toolsthat we can take into academia, which is why we'vemoved into visual methods.

  • 06:19

    KATE WALL [continued]: These are tools that primary teachers use all the timeto get to elicit responses from children,and academia is just catching on with visual methodology.So it's about thinking about tool evidence thatwill support their inquiry.What is enough evidence to convince youthat you have found an answer to your research question?And that might be evidence that comesfrom a very traditional form of data,like an interview, a questionnaire.

  • 06:44

    KATE WALL [continued]: But it might also be evidence thatis much more practice-based, so work samples, or mind maps,or video of classroom lessons or practice.So, therefore, it's just trying to open teachersand practitioners' minds to it being something much broaderand useful.

  • 07:04

    KATE WALL [continued]: Useful is the keyword in this to themin thinking about what they do every day.

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2015

Video Type:Interview

Methods: Action research, Practitioner research, Collaborative research, Visual research

Keywords: collaboration; learning and communication; practice guidelines as topic; practices, strategies, and tools; problem solving; processes and institutions; teaching; teaching (occupation) ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Dr. Elaine Hall and Dr. Kate Wall discuss practitioner inquiry, particularly their Learn to Learn Project. In this project, they studied teachers who were interested in learning and making better learners.

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What is Practitioner Inquiry?

Dr. Elaine Hall and Dr. Kate Wall discuss practitioner inquiry, particularly their Learn to Learn Project. In this project, they studied teachers who were interested in learning and making better learners.

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