Advertisement

An Invited Outsider or an Enriched Insider? Challenging Contextual Knowledge as a Critical Friend Researcher

  • Anna FletcherEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Researchers conducting studies in communities have long taken an interest in exploring the different merits of positioning themselves as “insiders”, “outsiders”, or “in-betweeners” in relation to their participants. Yet research exploring the role of the researcher as a “critical friend”—a supportive yet challenging facilitator in self-evaluation processes—has not been fully examined. This chapter speaks to the FUGuE element of transformation—which in the present context, I define as a process where structures and forms undergo conversion. The chapter provides my account as a FUGuE researcher of exploring the methodological implications of my research with a small group of teachers at a primary school located in the Latrobe Valley in Central Gippsland. The emergent relationship now informs my teaching and research practices. The discussion draws on a recently commenced longitudinal study exploring teachers’ use of strategies and processes aimed at improving literacy practices—a phenomenon known as capacity building—through collaboration in a professional learning team, within a context of school improvement. Due to a prior connection with the school, I was invited to become a critical friend and active participant as the school initiated a new Professional Learning Team (PLT) in literacy. Informed by recorded conversations from the PLT meetings, my aim was to conceptualize the role and transformative implications of researching as an invited critical friend within a professional community. This chapter contributes to the methodological discourse of educational research by offering a contextualized analysis of the tensions among the notions of trust, credibility, and positionality as a critical friend researcher.

Keywords

Critical friendship Professional learning Insider–outsider Researcher identity Trust Transformation Social Cognitive Theory 

References

  1. Arendt, H. (1978). The life of the mind: The groundbreaking investigation on how we think (One-volume ed.). San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS]. (2016). Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5—Remoteness structure. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/1270.0.55.005July%202016?OpenDocument.
  3. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (2006). Toward a psychology of human agency. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(2), 164–180.  https://doi.org/10.2307/40212163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (2012). On the functional properties of perceived self-efficacy revisited. Journal of Management, 38(1), 9–44.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206311410606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banks, J. A. (1998). The lives and values of researchers: Implications for educating citizens in a multicultural society. Educational Researcher, 27(7), 4–17.  https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X027007004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barca, F., McCann, P., & Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2012). The case for regional development intervention: Place-based versus place-neutral approaches. Journal of Regional Science, 52(1), 134–152.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9787.2011.00756.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bobis, J., Shore, S., Bennett, D., Bennett, S., Chan, P., Harrison, N., et al. (2013). Education research in Australia: Where is it conducted? The Australian Educational Researcher, 40(4), 453–471.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-013-0105-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonner, A., & Tolhurst, G. (2002). Insider-outsider perspectives of participant observation. Nurse Researcher, 9(4), 7–19.  https://doi.org/10.7748/nr2002.07.9.4.7.c6194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brann-Barrett, T. (2014). Understanding ‘the community’ in rural community research. In S. White & M. Corbett (Eds.), Doing educational research in rural settings: Methodological issues, international perspectives and practical solutions (pp. 75–87). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Breen, L. J. (2007). The researcher ‘in the middle’: Negotiating the insider/outsider dichotomy. The Australian Community Psychologist, 19(1), 163–174.Google Scholar
  12. Burton, D., & Bartlett, S. (2005). Practitioner research for teachers. London, England: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coates, M. (2017). Setting direction: Vision, values and culture. In P. Earley & T. Greany (Eds.), School leadership and education system reform (pp. 90–99). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  14. Corbin Dwyer, S., & Buckle, J. L. (2009). The space between: On being an insider-outsider in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8(1), 54–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (1993). Through the lens of a critical friend. Educational Leadership, 51(10), 49–51.Google Scholar
  16. Crisp, B. R., Swerissen, H., & Duckett, S. J. (2000). Four approaches to capacity building in health: Consequences for measurement and accountability. Health Promotion International, 15(2), 99–107.  https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/15.2.99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeLyser, D. (2001). Do you really live here? Thoughts on insider research. Geographical Review, 91(1–2), 441–453.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1931-0846.2001.tb00500.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Department of Education and Training. (2015). A toolkit for transition clusters: Primary to secondary. Melbourne: State of Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/principals/transition/Toolkit_TransitionClusters.docx.
  19. Education Services Australia. (2014). Looking at classroom practice, pp. 1–97. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/classroom-practice/looking_at_clasroom_practice_interactive.pdf?sfvrsn=8.
  20. Fletcher, A. K. (2016). Exceeding expectations: Scaffolding agentic engagement through assessment as learning. Educational Research, 58(4), 400–419.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2016.1235909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fletcher, A. K. (2017). Help seeking: Agentic learners initiating feedback. Educational Review.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2017.1340871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gerrish, K. (1997). Being a ‘marginal native’: Dilemmas of the participant observer. Nurse Researcher, 5(1), 25–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2009). Teacher professional learning in an age of compliance: Mind the gap. London: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Gülümser, A. A., Baycan-Levent, T., & Nijkamp, P. (2010). Measuring regional creative capacity: A literature review for rural-specific approaches. European Planning Studies, 18(4), 545–563.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09654311003593614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hedges, H. (2010). Blurring the boundaries: Connecting research, practice and professional learning. Cambridge Journal of Education, 40(3), 299–314.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2010.502884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2002). Insider knowledge: Issues in insider research. Nursing Standard, 16(46), 33–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. James, M., Black, P., McCormick, R., Pedder, D., & Wiliam, D. (2006). Learning how to learn, in classrooms, schools and networks: Aims, design and analysis. Research Papers in Education, 21(2), 101–118.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02671520600615547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kerstetter, K. (2012). Insider, outsider, or somewhere in between: The impact of researchers’ identities on the community-based research process. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 27(2), 99–117.Google Scholar
  29. Plowright, S., Glowrey, C., Green, M., Fletcher, A., Harrison, D., Plunkett, M., … Johnson, N. (2016). Reimagining and transforming identity as rural researchers and educators: A (con) textual fugue. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education, Melbourne. http://www.aare.edu.au/publications-database.php/11038/reimagining-and-transforming-identity-as-researchers-and-educators-a-contextual-fugue.
  30. Swaffield, S. (2008). Critical friendship, dialogue and learning, in the context of leadership for learning. School Leadership & Management, 28(4), 323–336.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13632430802292191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Swaffield, S., & MacBeath, J. (2005). School self-evaluation and the role of a critical friend. Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 239–252.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03057640500147037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Trippl, M., Sinozic, T., & Lawton Smith, H. (2015). The role of universities in regional development: Conceptual models and policy institutions in the UK, Sweden and Austria. European Planning Studies, 23(9), 1722–1740.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2015.1052782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wennergren, A.-C. (2016). Teachers as learners—With a little help from a critical friend. Educational Action Research, 24(2), 260–279.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09650792.2015.1058170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Woods, D., & Macfarlane, R. (2017). What makes a great school in the twenty-first century? In P. Earley & T. Greany (Eds.), School leadership and education system reform (pp. 79–89). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  35. Wright, N., & Adam, A. (2015). The ‘critical friend’ role in fostering reflective practices and developing staff cohesion: A case study in a new secondary school, New Zealand. School Leadership & Management, 35(4), 441–457.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2015.1070821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationFederation University AustraliaGippslandAustralia

Personalised recommendations