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Participatory Research – ‘Challenging the Throne Without Losing Your Head’: An Interview with Tony MacCulloch

Lynne S. Giddings, RN, RM, PhD, Associate Professor School of Nursing, Auckland University of Technology

Pamela J. Wood, RN, PhD, Associate Professor Graduate School of Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria University of Wellington

Giddings, L. S., & Wood, P. J. (2005). Participatory research - ‘Challenging the throne without losing your head’: An interview with Tony MacCulloch. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 21(1), 4-13.

Abstract

Participatory research approaches, though varied methodologically, share a belief in the importance of social action and the involvement of research participants. This article focuses on a modified approach to co-operative inquiry, a participatory methodology predominantly informed by humanistic psychology. It is the thirteenth in a series of articles based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, designed to offer the beginning researcher a first-hand account of the experience of using particular methodologies. After describing briefly some of the varieties of approaches to participatory research and their theoretical underpinnings, the article presents an interview with Tony MacCulloch (RPN; RGN; Dip Couns; MEd) who used a modified form of co-operative inquiry to explore the risks experienced by tertiary educators who challenged oppressive structures in their workplace. It examined their experience of strategies that supported them in the course of voicing their concerns. A secondary purpose was to support educators who sought to further the ideals of transformative education.

Key Words: Research, methodologies, participatory research, co-operative inquiry.  

Participatory Research

Participatory research, sometimes termed ‘participative inquiry’, comes in a variety of methodological forms reflecting different ideological perspectives and theoretical positions. They have in common a belief that participants should be involved in some way in research that ultimately benefits them and/or the group they represent, through some form of transformative action or social change. This article, the thirteenth in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, offers the beginning researcher a brief introduction to one form of participatory research - modified cooperative inquiry (refer to Giddings & Wood (2000) for background information on the series). It gives a first-hand account of how one New Zealand nurse used this methodology to explore the risks and costs, both personal and professional, experienced by tertiary educators who challenged dominant, oppressive structures in their workplace. It examined their knowledge and experience of strategies that supported, sustained or empowered them in the course of challenging such practice, policy or processes. A secondary purpose was to support, validate, and empower tertiary educators who sought to further the ideals of transformative, liberatory educational practice. An earlier article in the series also used a form of participatory research: Rachel Stevenson used action research to explore the experience of nurses and people with asthma in the secondary care setting (Wood & Giddings, 2000).

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