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Collaborative Knowledge Production as Ends and Means of Promoting Equity in a Network-Based Research-Practice Partnership

Sat, April 9, 4:05 to 5:35pm, Convention Center, Floor: Level One, Room 102 B


As a counterpoint to traditional modes of research-practice relations in education based in frames of “research translation,” and unidirectional flows of knowledge from researchers to educators, Research-Practice Partnerships (RPPs) (Coburn, Penuel & Guile, 2010) involve joint work, mutuality and a focus on persistent problems of practice, principles that entail re-configurations of stakeholder roles within key research and practice activities. From who decides what are important questions to ask to engaging in processes of learning design, traditionally held roles are often re-imagined in RPPs in ways that can support more equitable arrangements and bi-directional knowledge flows. In this poster, we share an inter-organizational routine of collaborative knowledge production (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994) in which researchers and practitioners mutually engage in analytic and sensemaking activities resulting in creation of broadly applicable knowledge and the identification of context-appropriate recommendations for practice.

The routine was implemented by investigators of Hive Research Lab (HRL) as part of a larger research-practice partnership (RPP) within the Hive NYC Learning Network. Hive NYC is a collective of over 80 informal learning organizations including museums, libraries and other educational organizations aimed at connecting youth with interest driven, digital production centered learning opportunities.

The routine was utilized in the context of producing two community-developed white papers respectively addressing issues of organizational innovation in networked contexts through practices of ‘working in the open’ (Santo, Ching, Peppler & Hoadley, 2014) and supporting youth interest-driven pathways through practices of brokering learning opportunities (Ching, Santo, Hoadley & Peppler, 2015). The practical techniques used to develop collective knowledge for these white papers were characterized by periods of deep engagement between researchers and practitioners; topics emerged and were selected through collective discussion of basic research, community contexts were leveraged as spaces for knowledge refinement, basic research data was collected and integrated with early frameworks, early ideas were synthesized into initial drafts, and iterative, community-based feedback occurred around later stage drafts of the white papers.

The outcomes of such an approach are consequential in that the papers and the process associated with producing them respectively operated as both ends and means within the context of the RPP. Due to educators being integral participants in knowledge production, we argue that the ideas were more deeply contextualized and practically useful than ones that may have been the product of researchers acting alone writing for a practitioner audience, a result that is increasingly seen as a mark of scholarly rigor in educational research. (Gutiérrez & Penuel 2014). The process itself operated as means to achieving a number of other outcomes and activities associated with RPPs including the development of shared language (Bryk, Gomez & Grunow, 2010), surfacing practitioner expertise, fostering a collective knowledge-building orientation and implicitly renegotiating the focus of joint work (Penuel, Coburn & Gallagher, 2013).

We believe that the collaborative knowledge production routine described here represents an effective means by which to engage larger, distributed networks of actors in RPP activities through an activity that has low barriers for entry and increases the possibility of greater contributions to collective knowledge around persistent problems of practice.