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Introduction: More than Methods—Reflections on Participatory Action Research in Geographic Teaching, Learning and Research

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This paper provides an introduction to this symposium issue on participatory action research in geographic teaching, learning and research. It introduces the themes of the symposium and contributions from the participating authors, and also offers additional discussion of the attendant benefits and challenges of using participatory action research within a pedagogic context. The authors begin by discussing the recent growth of participatory pedagogies in higher education, including service learning, research-based teaching and community-based research. They contend that participatory action research may be incorporated in all of these learner-centred and community-engaged pedagogies with beneficial outcomes for teaching, student learning and academic research; however, they advocate for its incorporation into research-oriented and research-based teaching strategies where possible. They also discuss some of the unique political, ethical and logistical challenges involved, and argue that an engagement with participatory action research in our teaching requires more than attention to methods, but, rather, a rethinking of theory-practice, teacher-student, and university-community relationships. They conclude with a brief discussion of the symposium and the authors' contributions.

Keywords: Participatory action research; active learning pedagogies; research methods

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 2: Department of Geography, University of Washington, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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