Questions we are learning to ask; a story of Australian HPE education researchers becoming…

Year: 2016

Author: Simadas, Becki, O'Brien, Rachel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As two beginning HPE researchers, we have undertaken a journey that initially seemed a quest for answers, but has slowly revealed itself instead as a process of learning to ask the right(?) questions. We share with you our stories of grappling with theory, attempting to extend ourselves beyond what is considered ‘good theory’, to considering theory ‘good’. Amidst discussion across two distinct research domains, our limitations as novices have informed an approach to theory that seeks usefulness ahead of mastery (or put another way, mastery only insofar as it proves useful). Throughout the past two years we have learned to ask new questions of the domains we are researching. Doing so alongside one another has allowed for broader philosophical discussion and debate about what is even worth asking in the first place. In pursuit of useful theory, or theory that “works” in our research contexts, we have adopted/adapted frameworks from Australian academics Carol Bacchi and Raewyn Connell. We share our experiences of forming our identities as researchers as we attempt to push back against the pressure to conform to the “publishable” proclamations of Eurocentric theoretical frameworks. Is it arrogant, or aspirational to attempt a quest for an individual theoretical position in early career research? We hope the latter, and attempt to do so through clarity and transparency of what we are doing and why we are doing it. We share of becoming poststructural health researchers and how doing so together has shaped and informed our positions. In particular, we will speak about the process that has lead us to be hesitant of having “a theory” instead identifying ourselves as researchers essentially concerned with “practice”. We hope that a narrative of our experiences can begin a discussion with potential to transform the way we become/construct researchers of health education.