Researching with Communities: Challenges in Adult and Community Education in Aotearoa New Zealand

By Marion Bowl and Liz Tully.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the challenges and opportunities in undertaking collaborative action research with a diverse range of largely community-based Adult and Community Education (ACE) practitioners. ACE in Aotearoa New Zealand is currently the focus of a government-funded, sector-wide initiative aimed at enhancing professional development opportunities for practitioners, who work in a wide range of settings, urban and rural, and under the considerable constraints of funding and time. The aim of the initiative (Tertiary Education Commission, 2006) is to improve learner outcomes by increasing the effectiveness of teaching and learning in ACE. One of the TEC's four key strategies is to assist the development of an infrastructure for ongoing ACE professional development, and to strengthen the sector as a whole, by encouraging existing networks of practitioners to adopt a 'community of practice' (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002) approach to professional development and capability building. Responsibility for supporting the achievement of this outcome was given to a small team of university-based ACE practitioner-researchers who undertook a 12-month project with six ACE networks, located in diverse regions of Aotearoa New Zealand. Their study used a participatory action research methodology (Cardno, 2003; Reason and Bradbury, 2001) to collaborate with network members in exploring different individual and group professional development needs and evaluating the effectiveness of various approaches. The paper describes the process of the research and some of the lessons it offered - for practitioners, researchers and policy makers.

Keywords: Adult Education, Adult Educators, Community Education, Adult and Community Education, Professional Development, Communities of Practice, Participatory Action Research

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp.165-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.660KB).

Dr. Marion Bowl

Senior Lecturer in Adult and Community Education, UC Opportunity, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Marion was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, School of Education, and Head of Informal Education and Social Pedagogy before moving to Aotearoa New Zealand in January 2006. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Adult Education at the University of Canterbury and leads an ACE Teaching and Research team.

Dr. Liz Tully

Manager, Community Education, UC Opportunity, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Liz is Director of UC Opportunity at the University of Canterbury and is responsible for a range of adult and community education programmes, both credit and non-credit. Liz was a national executive member of ACE Aotearoa, a national association of ACE providers, and is active in the Christchurch TEC ACE network.

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