The Epistemological Differences Between a Teacher and Researcher: A personal journey illustrating second order action research

Bill Nicholl
2009, Vol. 14, No. 3,


This keynote address tells the personal journey of a former
teacher who is now involved in educational research.
Educational research is topical at the moment in Design
and Technology (D&T) Education, as many initial teacher
training (ITE) courses make the transition to masters level
accreditation, something endorsed by the teacher training
and development agency (TDA) as a means of enhancing the status of the teaching profession. The implication being that ITE courses will develop a significant research component to their courses. This paper argues against relying on experience only, or anecdotal accounts as a
means for understanding or explaining the nature of the phenomena being studied. The case for conducting educational research that is ‘systematically, sceptically and ethically’ (Robson, 2002) conducted, is seen as a means understanding human behaviour, in a way that leads to conclusions that are credible (Cohen, 2007). The author draws on his experience as both a teacher in school, and as a Principal Investigator of a large, Gatsby funded research project, which looked at creativity in design and technology which is influencing policy and practice both nationally and internationally.


action research; creativity; interpretive; epistemology; verstehen

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