The problems of developing theoretical models for collaborative research projects

Year: 1994

Author: Doig, Shani

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teaching for Effective Learning in Senior Schooling (TELSS) is an ongoing ARC collaborative project between the Queensland University of Technology and Kelvin Grove State High School. The four separate pilot projects which have developed so far are united by a basic commitment to the improvement of teaching and learning at Kelvin Grove State High School. These projects, while joined loosely by the philosophy of action research, have followed separate methodology and have until recently remained ungrounded by a tight theoretical agenda.

A chicken and egg scenario may be drawn from the experiences of the TELSS project. It is generally considered that theory should be in place before the practical components of research are undertaken. Is it possible and feasible to reverse this process, i.e., to overlay the practical research agenda with theory or to allow the theory to develop out of the research act? Such questions have been debated within the contexts of the project. While not devising a cohesive answer, the theories about the role of theory in the research process have implications beyond the TELSS project.

The paper presented will outline the history of the project to this point with specific reference to the problems of developing a cohesive theoretical model which all the pilot projects could be united by. An outline of the theoretical model developed will be presented along with an analysis of the processes and politics which were involved in its development. In a more general sense the difficulties of creating theoretical models for collaborative action research projects will be viewed.