Using Practitioner Reflective Critical Inquiry to Manage Change in Adult Basic Education

What is the project about?

The project engages Adult Basic Education (ABE) practitioners (instructors) in the Centre for Excellence in Foundational Learning Department at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta. This project uses practitioners’ reflective critical inquiry to manage program change in an Adult Basic Education program in our community college.

The project arose from an attempt to revise the reading and writing curriculum in the basic education program (below high-school level).  After a year of researching and sketching out skills levels, we found it difficult to bring about a full curriculum without taking the time to think deeply about how to make the  curriculum come alive in the classroom. We needed to spend more time critically reflecting on our practices and about what we presume to be curriculum, even though our program was in constant change.

Therefore, in a collaborative process that uses reflective critical inquiry, we devised a participatory action research project to give us some time for and insight into changing the program. The project provides a space for practitioners to reflect on perspectives and apprehensions about program changes. Using participatory action research and appreciative-inquiry approaches, a number of adult basic education practitioners joined the research project and regularly participate in focus groups where they collectively reflect on and discuss articles, lectures, and video clips that relate to program change.

Using Practitioner Reflective Critical Inquiry to Manage Change in Adult Basic Education is already having a positive impact. Practitioners are getting closer to research and are using research strategies to manage change.

What is the goal?

The goal of the project is to build knowledge sharing and participatory decision making as effective ways to manage program change. The practitioners’ critical reflection and collaborative decision making will provide insight on how to better implement program changes in a department or in the greater college community.

What can this project contribute to the adult literacy and essential skills field?

“This is an excellent example of how anyone can do research. You don’t have to be a researcher to learn more about a topic. If there is a topic you would like to research, do not feel limited if you do not have a research background.”

Candace Witkowskyj, former ALESRI Lead Instructor – Literacy and Disability

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