Exploring practice - research networks for critical professional learning

Yvon Appleby, Yvonne Hillier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the contribution that practice-research networks can make tosupport critical professional development in the Learning and Skills sector inEngland. By practice-research networks we mean groups or networks whichmaintain a connection between research and professional practice. Thesenetworks stem from the philosophy of practitioner and action research ineducation. We use two examples both from higher and further education inEngland where continuing professional development has become a mandatoryrequirement for teachers in the Further Education (FE) sector. Our examplessuggest that critical professional development can occur and although we are ableto begin to identify some of the ways that these networks operate it is less clearwhich appropriate theories should support our work. The second part of thepaper therefore explores some theoretical perspectives that focus on networksoperating as systems. We discuss Actor Network Theory and Activity Theorywhich show how networks are populated by individuals with agency and suggestthat a helpful way to contextualise the benefits of networks is provided by theconcept of expansive learning providing a different understanding of howprofessional learning and development take place.Keywords: critical professional learning; research-practice networks
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • critical professional learning
  • research-practice networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring practice - research networks for critical professional learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this