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Reinvestigating the theory and practice gap in Participatory Educational Research

Journal article
Authors Airi Rovio-Johansson
Published in International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 1-10
Publication year 2020
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 1-10
Language en
Keywords lesson study, learning study, phenomenography, variation theory, teacher training, quality criteria, learning, knowledge, constructivism, activity theory, social constructionism, critical incident.
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Other Social Sciences, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


Purpose/aim - The aim of this paper is to open a reinvestigation of the theory and practice gap and its consequences for teachers’ participation in research into their own practice. Further, to explore if the gap is partly an artefact of the underlying epistemology made visible in the institutional practices of education and teacher training and in participatory educational research. Accordingly, the overarching purpose is to gain deeper understanding of classroom teaching as participatory educational research. Design/methodology/approach - By revealing contrasting features of different theoretical frameworks applied in case studies, the paper contributes to the illumination of how to bridge the gap between theory and practice and reveals how some of the case studies accomplish research with teachers and research on teachers in varying degrees in research processes. Findings - Teachers’ roles in case studies vary due to (a) the applied theoretical research approach and (b) due to different phases of the research process. Findings suggest that the theory and practice gap is complex and that classroom teaching is a multi-disciplinary activity related to a great number of contextual factors. The gap is possible to bridge in some of the steps in the research process. Findings from a meta-study of 45 lesson studies (Whitney, 2019) indicate that results from these studies were shared with few teachers and schools outside the local school context. Originality/value - The paper provides insights into participatory educational research from teachers’ perspectives and researchers’ varying perspectives.

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