In this thesis the question is explored how a broadly defined concept is constructed and operationalized within the context of a complex, collaborative action research (CAR) project in the field of primary education. The focus of this research is on the CAR project ‘Pro Sense’ which is a collaboration between university researchers and practitioners, in particular primary school teachers and ambulatory caregivers. The aim of the project is to conceptualize and measure the so called ‘sustainable’ development of pupils.
Peculiar to collaborative action research is the involvement of practitioners as co-researchers (Sagor, 1993; Greenwood & Levin, 2007). For this reason specific validity criteria are imposed on CAR projects. The value of a high level of participation in methodological decision-making is expressed in so called ‘dialogical’ and ‘democratic’ validity (Burns, 1999). Besides this point, conceptualization in social sciences also needs to be done according to certain methodological and epistemological criteria (Penrod & Hupcey, 2005; Babbie, 2007). In this study an analysis is made of how the process of co-construction and operationalization proceeds in terms of (1) the scientific validity criteria for research concepts and (2) the specific CAR criteria of participation and practical utility of research results.
This study concludes that although these various validity criteria seem to be conflicting at first sight, in the reality of Pro Sense these demands are actually strongly related. Moreover, due to various interventions and factors during the project the conclusion had to be made that the construction of a valid scientific concept was hardly achieved. This led to the conclusion that working with a rather broad and theoretically undeveloped concept as ‘sustainable child development’, in a complex CAR project as Pro Sense, either needs a project design wherein conceptual exploration is the main objective or a more operationalized definition needs to be provided in the beginning of the study.
|Date of Award||1 Jan 2014|
|Original language||American English|
|Supervisor||G. C. Jacobs (Supervisor) & P. Bos (Supervisor)|