Appreciative Inquiry as a Developmental Research Approach for Higher Education Pedagogy: Space for the Shadow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article explores arguments for adopting appreciative inquiry (AI) as an action research approach that generates pedagogic development in UK and international higher education. An overview of AI considering the methodological dilemma of focussing only on positive experiences is discussed. Findings from focus group discussions in a post-1992 UK university are presented that demonstrate AI’s efficacy as a developmental pedagogic research approach. This AI research was part of the wider UK retention and success project, ‘What Works?’, which aimed to support first year undergraduates’ belonging during HE transition in order to enhance their engagement, retention and success. These focus groups explored first year undergraduates’ experiences of learning, teaching, assessment and support, incorporating retention interventions in Business, Social Science and Digital Media courses. Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital and Wenger’s community of practice model are applied as an analytical lens to illuminate the role of structure and agency relating to students’ experiences. The findings show how AI focus groups were a way for participants to explore and discuss positive perceptions and experiences of starting university. They also enabled participants to discuss problems, solutions, and ways to enhance pedagogy and support, contributing to educational development at course, institutional and sector-wide levels. We argue that embracing the ‘shadow’ (Fitzgerald & Oliver, 2010) in AI is a commitment that should be shared by a variety of stakeholders in order to gain a holistic understanding of what is needed to facilitate transformative change in HE development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Feb 2020

Fingerprint

research approach
pedagogics
education
experience
university
digital media
artificial intelligence
action research
group discussion
Group
social science
stakeholder
commitment
Teaching
learning
community
student

Keywords

  • higher education
  • Pedagogy
  • appreciative inquiry
  • Developmental Research
  • Action Research
  • Transformative change
  • higher education development

Cite this

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title = "Appreciative Inquiry as a Developmental Research Approach for Higher Education Pedagogy: Space for the Shadow",
abstract = "This article explores arguments for adopting appreciative inquiry (AI) as an action research approach that generates pedagogic development in UK and international higher education. An overview of AI considering the methodological dilemma of focussing only on positive experiences is discussed. Findings from focus group discussions in a post-1992 UK university are presented that demonstrate AI’s efficacy as a developmental pedagogic research approach. This AI research was part of the wider UK retention and success project, ‘What Works?’, which aimed to support first year undergraduates’ belonging during HE transition in order to enhance their engagement, retention and success. These focus groups explored first year undergraduates’ experiences of learning, teaching, assessment and support, incorporating retention interventions in Business, Social Science and Digital Media courses. Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital and Wenger’s community of practice model are applied as an analytical lens to illuminate the role of structure and agency relating to students’ experiences. The findings show how AI focus groups were a way for participants to explore and discuss positive perceptions and experiences of starting university. They also enabled participants to discuss problems, solutions, and ways to enhance pedagogy and support, contributing to educational development at course, institutional and sector-wide levels. We argue that embracing the ‘shadow’ (Fitzgerald & Oliver, 2010) in AI is a commitment that should be shared by a variety of stakeholders in order to gain a holistic understanding of what is needed to facilitate transformative change in HE development.",
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AB - This article explores arguments for adopting appreciative inquiry (AI) as an action research approach that generates pedagogic development in UK and international higher education. An overview of AI considering the methodological dilemma of focussing only on positive experiences is discussed. Findings from focus group discussions in a post-1992 UK university are presented that demonstrate AI’s efficacy as a developmental pedagogic research approach. This AI research was part of the wider UK retention and success project, ‘What Works?’, which aimed to support first year undergraduates’ belonging during HE transition in order to enhance their engagement, retention and success. These focus groups explored first year undergraduates’ experiences of learning, teaching, assessment and support, incorporating retention interventions in Business, Social Science and Digital Media courses. Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and capital and Wenger’s community of practice model are applied as an analytical lens to illuminate the role of structure and agency relating to students’ experiences. The findings show how AI focus groups were a way for participants to explore and discuss positive perceptions and experiences of starting university. They also enabled participants to discuss problems, solutions, and ways to enhance pedagogy and support, contributing to educational development at course, institutional and sector-wide levels. We argue that embracing the ‘shadow’ (Fitzgerald & Oliver, 2010) in AI is a commitment that should be shared by a variety of stakeholders in order to gain a holistic understanding of what is needed to facilitate transformative change in HE development.

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