Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 16, Issue 1, March 2008,
This article explores some of the challenges of conducting action research in higher education. It arises from an ongoing research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council's Teaching and Learning Research Programme (ESRC/TLRP), 'Learning and Teaching for Social Diversity and Difference', which examines the dynamics of academic engagement in higher education within a multi-dimensional framework.
The three principal research team members draw their knowledge and expertise from their different professional lives: learning and teaching, widening participation and adult and community education. They are also differently located geographically and institutionally. This diversity of background and location has brought another form of multi-dimensionality which contributes to methodology and theory development. For the purpose of this article, team members reflected together on the challenges of making such a complex and innovative research project work.
These challenges range from exploring different philosophies behind notions of academic engagement to the practical dimensions of institution and sector diversity and working in different geographical locations. The outcome of this process offers lessons about the process of undertaking action research, linking theory and data and the role of joint reflection in research.