‘Designing the plane while flying it’: concept co-construction in a collaborative action research project

Alex Schenkels, Gaby Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the field of collaborative action research (CAR), the quality of the collaborative partnerships between university researchers and practitioners has received much attention. Most accounts focus on three areas: the question how to organise and optimise the encounter of these ‘worlds’ of scientific and practical reasoning; the professional development and emancipation of practitioners; and the enhancement of the practical utility of a CAR-project. In this article, we look at CAR projects from a different angle and explore the question how theoretical concepts are co-constructed in CAR-projects, thereby acquiring both practical as well as scientific relevance. We have focused on the participatory process of conceptualization during a CAR project in primary education, in order to find out how a key concept in the considered project is co-constructed and operationalized in multidisciplinary communities of practices. Both the theoretical validity of the concept is evaluated as well as the validity of collaboration. An ‘hourglass’ model is introduced for analysing participation in CAR projects, holding a more relational and dialogic interpretation of participation than the ‘Participation Ladder’ model. Furthermore, a heuristic approach to conceptualization in CAR projects is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Action Research
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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