Is Action Research a Contradiction in Terms? Do Communities of Practice Mean the End of Educational Research as We Know It? Some Remarks Based on One Recent Example of Religious Education Research

May. 01, 2011

Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2011, pages 189-199.

The author considers the claim that the nature and merits of both action research and communities of practice are contested: for example, Martyn Hammersley has argued that action research may be a contradiction in terms and that communities of practice may mean the end of educational research as a discrete discipline.

In response to his claims, the epistemology and methodology of a religious education action research community of practice – the Warwick Religious Education, Dialogue and Conflict (REDCo) community of practice – are discussed.

The author describes three strands of argument.
Firstly, action research is not necessarily a contradiction in terms.
Secondly, communities of practice are not necessarily the end of educational research as a discipline in its own right.
Thirdly, however, Hammersley’s critique raises important issues about professional knowledge development, inviting interaction between propositional and workplace knowledge.

The author concludes that the experience of the Warwick REDCo community of practice – including, importantly, its meta‐research – may be aligned to this invitation as an illustrative example.

Updated: Jul. 17, 2013