Conceptualising, conducting and disseminating research for the public good

Year: 2004

Author: Short, Trisch, Gholam, Mohammad, Goos, Merrilyn, Kostogriz, Alex

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Drawing upon one research project Home-School-Community Partnerships for Enhancing Children's Numeracy Development we examine, critically, some problems entailed in the processes of conceptualizing the subjects and objects of inquiry, conducting field work with subjects (as knowing agents) and interpreting and disseminating the knowledge gained. Addressing these issues, in practice, has entailed some necessary consideration of fundamental tensions centred around the professional power-knowledge of teachers and a dominant cultural discourse that situates numeracy learning in the school.

A theoretical model (based upon Engestr"m's Activity Theory) was used to specify and analyse various types of partnerships within a network of mutually interconnected activities to support children's learning (Bloome et al., 2000; Engestr"m, 1999). By decentering the school, within this model, we have been led to a closer analysis of the concept of 'partnership' and of the social construction of parental and community involvement in children's numeracy development. One of the most problematic aspects of partnerships evident in our research is the way in which the term 'numeracy' is understood by different stakeholders. Awareness of this has shaped the conduct and dissemination of our research and ultimately enabled us to identify critical issues for further inquiry.