II: Illustrations


The chapters in Part II provide tangible and detailed illustrations of the wide variety of ways in which transformative action research can be used. Chapters 7 through 10 have been written by five of my colleagues, and all are different from one another in how they have used, and are using, action research. Each chapter shows some valuable and distinctive uses of action research.

David Yamada is a professor of law who focuses on the broad strategy of intellectual activism, especially grounded in his experience with and major commitment to addressing the problems related to workplace bullying, a field in which he has deservedly earned national recognition.

Dennis Hastings and Margery Coffey are two scholar-activists who have made enonnous contributions in preserving and restoring the history of the Omaha people and the preservation of the Omaha language. They have accomplished this through their writings, through the preservation of photos and recordings from 19th century Edison cylinders, and in change efforts, such as in contributions to the content taught in local school rooms. As the leaders of the Omaha Tribal Historical Research Project (OTHRP)—which the Omaha Tribal Council has designated as their cultural authority in perpetuity—they have demonstrated with their tireless, scholarly, and activist capabilities how much can be accomplished by unsung heroes. Between their museum work, both in the U.S. and also in France and Germany, as well as their work on the Internet, they are well known in specific areas. Their museum project has been covered in Turkey and introduced in an architectural classroom in Egypt. They are also well known to the Nebraska legislature and the University of Nebraska. Hopefully, Chapter 8 will give them even more visibility and support for their efforts.

In Chapter 9, Sudia Paloma McCaleb shows great creativity' and multicultural finesse in the various ways in which she has used participatory action research—in classrooms in the U.S., including with Salvadoran immigrants, and in cross-cultural learning efforts among Oaxacan indigenous communities and U.S. school teachers.

Many of her exemplary endeavors grow out of the organization she has founded, the Center for Critical Environmental and Global Literacy (CCEGL).

In Chapter 10, Marilyn Jackson reflects on how her own dissertation at WISR, over 20 years ago, was moved forward when she added interviews and an action research perspective to her already solid understanding of creation spirituality. She also brings to the discussion, the relevance of the Danish Folk School movement to our appreciation of the breadth of action research.

Chapters 11 and 12 use the perspective of transformative action-and-inquiry in working toward educational improvements in the realm of the physical sciences, mathematics, and Artificial Intelligence. Chapter 11 is a description and analysis of how innovatively minded, expert college physics professors have endeavored to improve physics education by “teaching physics as inquiry.”

Chapter 12 is an early report on my collaboration with a WISR graduate student, a researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft, Kence Anderson. Together, we have developed some promising insights on the central role of collaboration in moving toward higher levels of learning—specifically, on the necessity and value of humans as essential colleagues of Artificial Intelligence machines. In this book, and the companion volume to this book (Bilorusky, 2021), I’ve stressed the importance of “social learning,” of collaboration, in enabling us to progress in our inquiring capabilities. So, Kence Anderson and I are engaged in showing how it is that only with the benefit of collaborating with people can “Artificial Intelligence” help us to progress toward higher and deeper levels of expert inquiry. Furthermore, we believe that this process of social learning with technology can be used in school classrooms, to educate youth. The idea is not merely that youth can “learn from” Al, nor that the main goal is for them to develop technological skills, although both are valuable. More importantly, youth, can develop and further their own inquiring abilities to a much greater extent by being engaged as colleagues who are involved in pushing forward the learning of Al machines. In Ghapter 12, then, we share some of our ideas in progress, and our plans to try this out in one or several school classrooms in the not too distant future.

Next, and quite significantly, in Ghapter 13, I present examples of a wide variety of action research projects done by WISR students, oftentimes for a thesis or dissertation, and sometimes resulting in a published book, and/or significant practical consequences. Beyond the examples of what the students “did,” there is a lot to be learned from that chapter on the students’ many experiences of and perspectives on what they did. We hear from these former WISR students what they have to say about the process and outcomes of what they did, and what, in retrospect, they see to be the significance of what they did and learned.

Finally, Ghapter 14 is an autobiographical analysis of how my experience and understanding of inquiry-and-action has evolved from childhood to old age, and the role of other people and social circumstances in promoting my own learning of transformative action research. That is, I aim to illustrate some of the many ways in which “social learning” from and with others can be key to expanding one’s abilities and understanding of inquiry, if one is fortunate enough to find their way into situations ripe with opportunity.

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