ERIC Number: EJ779377
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Reference Count: 35
Boundary Crossings in Research: Towards a Cultural Understanding of the Research Project "Transforming Learning Cultures in Further Education"
Educational Review, v59 n4 p483-499 Nov 2007
To achieve its aim of deepening understanding of the complexities of learning in Further Education (FE), the Transforming Learning Cultures in FE (TLC) project developed a model of learning as a cultural activity. The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of taking a cultural view, not of learning, but of the research itself. The paper provides a description of the TLC project in cultural terms, but is also of general interest in the field of research methodology, with the account of this project serving as an illustration of how research generally might be described in this way. The paper draws heavily on Activity Theory and on the work of Bourdieu, showing how the latter further enriches the former. It concentrates on two examples of cultural analysis of the project: (i) managing large multiple case studies; (ii) integrating qualitative and quantitative methods within a consistent interpretivist approach. In describing the multiple case studies, the paper identifies the key boundary objects that enabled the different teams to collaborate on building a project-wide understanding of learning cultures in FE thus avoiding the risk that our large project could become little more than a series of loosely connected smaller case studies. In describing the combination of qualitative and quantitative enquiry, it shows how similar boundary objects enabled us to move iteratively across the qualitative/quantitative boundary. In both analyses, the paper shows how the habitus of the members of the project team was influential in allowing these boundary objects to come into full play, and how the details of the field affected our decision-making about optimal ways of working. We argue that our research decisions were particularly influenced by aspects of habitus and field when these showed an element of synergy, and illustrate the negative impact of a lack of synergy on one aspect of our project.
Descriptors: Research Methodology, Cultural Awareness, Adult Education, Case Studies, Research Projects, Qualitative Research, Questionnaires, Statistical Analysis, Educational Environment, Cultural Activities
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council, Lancaster (England).
Authoring Institution: N/A