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Educational Research for Social Change

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4070


DE SOUSA, Lulza Olim et al. Shifting Gears: Lessons Learnt From Critical, Collaborative, Self-Reflection on Community-Based Research. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2021, vol.10, n.1, pp.70-82. ISSN 2221-4070.

This article reflects the learning of five researchers in higher education in South Africa who took part in a participatory action research project to educate teachers how to integrate climate change issues into their teaching and learning. It was the first time any of the researchers had used participatory action research. We are all from natural science backgrounds and now involved in education for sustainable development. We had been trained in more traditional, objective, and researcher-driven methodologies grounded in a positivist paradigm. The purpose of this article is to share our learning about the changes we had to make in our thinking and practices to align with a participatory paradigm. We used reflective diaries to record our journey through the action research cycles. A thematic analysis of our diaries was supplemented by recorded discussions between the researchers. The analysis revealed that, while it was challenging to begin thinking in a different paradigm, we came to appreciate the value of the action research process that enabled teachers to integrate climate change issues into their teaching in a participatory way. We also concluded that we require more development to be able to conduct participatory research in a manner true to its values and principles. The conclusions we came to through our collaborative reflections may be of value to other researchers from similar scientific backgrounds who wish to learn what shifts in paradigm, methods, and processes are needed to be able to conduct community-based research in a participatory way.

Palavras-chave : action research approach; climate change; community engagement; higher education; research challenges.

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