What is action research and how do we do it?

Action research. In this article we explore the development of some different traditions of action research and provide an introductory guide to the literature. contents: what is action research? · origins · the decline and rediscovery of action research · undertaking action research · conclusion · further reading · how to cite this article. see, also: […]

Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning

Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning. The work of Chris Argyris (1923-2013) has influenced thinking about the relationship of people and organizations, organizational learning and action research. Here we examine some key aspects of his thinking. contents: introduction · life · theories of action: theory in use and espoused theory · […]

T. R.(Reg) Batten and Madge Batten, non-directivity and community development

T. R.(Reg) Batten and Madge Batten, non-directivity and community development: The Battens, and particularly T. R. or Reg, introduced the revolutionary concept of non-directivity to the newly emerging discipline of community development in the second part of the 20th century. George Lovell describes their work and lives, and explores the origins of the non-directive concept […]

Researching education, learning and community: building theory

Researching education, learning and community: building theory. In this piece we examine the process of generating theory. We ask ‘what is theory?’ We also look at the process of analysis, integration and imagination. For the last of these we pay special attention to the work of C. Wright Mills. Contents: introduction · what is theory? […]

Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice

Jean Lave, Etiene Wenger and communities of practice. The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years. Communities of practice have also become an important focus within organizational development and have considerable value when thinking about working with groups. In this article […]

Developing critical conversations about practice

In this 1995 article Mark K Smith explores the use of study groups by practitioners to deepen and extend their practice. It looks at how we may transcend individualized responses through building ‘critical communities of enquirers’. contents: preface · introduction · collective explorations of practice · the mechanics of study groups · exploring practice collectively: […]

Dialogue and conversation for learning, education and change

Dialogue and conversation  for learning, education and change. ‘Dialogue’, Freire says, ‘is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world’. Here we explore this idea – and its roots. Contents: introduction · Gadamer – horizons of understanding · emotions and virtues · Habermas: dialogue, power and distortion · Bohm on […]

Elliot W. Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism and the art of education

Elliot W. Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism and the art of education. Elliot W. Eisner has deepened our appreciation of education in a number of areas. Here we examine his argument that education involves the exercise of artistry and the development of connoisseurship and criticism. We also assess his contribution to the debates around school reform. contents: […]

Encounters for learning, education and change

Encounters for learning and change. Pedagogues, animators and informal educators work for encounters – face to face meetings. They also work for encounter – relation or engagement with themselves and others. Contents: · seeking situations of co-presence · co-ordinating activities · encounter and personal growth · encounter and relation · further reading · how to […]

The evaluation page

A developing set of pages exploring theories, issues and practices in evaluation general evaluation – the theory and practice of evaluating informal education, lifelong learning and social action bringing evaluation to the grassroots. Margo Menconi on evaluations in activist settings action research: its role in evaluation for educators and activists. communities of practice – such […]

Bringing evaluation to the grassroots: Insights gleaned from studying the mobilization for global justice

There are many approaches to evaluation as well as many contexts in which evaluation has been carried out.  This paper by Margo Menconi describes possible issues in carrying out evaluations in activist settings; describes the evaluation efforts of one activist group; and then suggests possible relevant evaluation approaches that might be helpful to activist groups. […]

Facilitating learning and change in groups and group sessions

Facilitating learning and change in groups and group sessions. Just what is facilitation, and what does it involve? We explore the theory and practice of facilitation, and some key issues around facilitating group sessions. Contents: introduction · what is group facilitation? · core conditions and the facilitator · the facilitator’s role · core values ·  […]

Using focus groups in evaluation and research

Using focus groups in evaluation and research. Focus groups have been part of market research for many years. Their popularity in advertising and marketing – and their use to find new ways of getting us to buy particular products or ideas – puts off a lot of people. However, they are a very useful tool […]

What is groupwork?

What is groupwork? While many practitioners may describe what they do as ‘groupwork’, they often have only a limited appreciation of what groupwork is and what it entails. In this piece we introduce groups and group work, define some key aspects, and suggest areas for exploration. In particular we focus on the process of working […]

What is group work?

What is group work? While many practitioners may describe what they do as ‘group work’, they often have only a limited appreciation of what group work is and what it entails. In this piece we introduce groups and group work, define some key aspects, and suggest areas for exploration. In particular we focus on the […]

David A. Kolb on experiential learning.

David A. Kolb on experiential learning. David A. Kolb’s model of experiential learning can be found in many discussions of the theory and practice of adult education, informal education and lifelong learning. We set out the model, and examine its possibilities and problems. Contents: introduction · david a. kolb · david kolb on experiential learning […]

Learning through outdoor experience. A guide for schools and youth groups

a5 version [free] · a4 version [free] · Kindle version from Amazon Experiencing the outdoors can be a powerful stimulus for learning. Being deep in a forest, feeling alone on a hillside or just sharing a cup of tea around a fire can set us on a path that changes the way we think about […]

Learning in organizations – theory and practice

Learning in organizations. In recent years there has been a lot of talk of ‘organizational learning’. Here we explore the theory and practice of such learning via pages in The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. We examine some key theorists and themes, and ask whether organizations can learn? contents: introduction · learning · learning […]

Kurt Lewin: groups, experiential learning and action research

Kurt Lewin: groups, experiential learning and action research. Kurt Lewin was a seminal theorist who deepened our understanding of groups, experiential learning, and action research. What did he actually add to the theory and practice of pedagogy and informal education? contents: introduction · life · field theory · group dynamics · democracy and groups · […]

C. Wright Mills: power, craftsmanship, and private troubles and public issues

C. Wright Mills: power, craftsmanship, and private troubles and public issues. Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) was one of the most influential radical social theorists and critics in twentieth century America. His work continues to have considerable significance. Here we focus on his connecting of private troubles and public issues; his exploration of power relationships; and […]

Parker J. Palmer: community, knowing and spirituality in education

Parker J. Palmer: community, knowing and spirituality in education. Parker J. Palmer’s explorations of education as a spiritual journey and of the inner lives of educators have been deeply influential. We explore his teachings and contribution. contents: introduction · parker j. palmer – life · education as a spiritual journey · parker palmer – knowing, teaching […]

Post-modernism, post-modernity and education

Post-modernism and post-modernity. Page upon page has been devoted to post-modernism and post-modernity. But what actually are they, and what implications do they have for informal educators? Barry Burke investigates. Contents: modernism · post-modernism · post-industrial society · post-fordism · disorganised capitalism · implications for informal educators · conclusion · how to cite this article […]

Exploring practice

Developments within different areas of work Association, democracy and civil society: exploring civil society, civic participation, the development of community and association, and the activities of educators and animateurs. Christian youth work and youth ministry: exploring the development and current experience of Christian youth work and youth ministry. Community learning and development: exploring the development, […]

what is praxis?

Few educators speak of praxis. Those that do tend to link it to the work of Freire. Yet while praxis may not be part of many workers overt vocabulary, practice, a pale derivative, is. So what is praxis and why should educators be concerned with it? contents: · theory and practice · practical reasoning · […]