Chapter Summary

The questions underpinning this chapter direct you to first-person activities as you, the insider action researcher engage in first and second person inquiry/practice as you enact the action research cycles. How do you know what you know? How do you inquire in action? How do you attend to what you might be learning as you engage in the issues of your action research project? How do you engage in collaborative inquiry and action? As answers to these questions, this chapter outlines the familiar and recognizable structure of human knowing and grounds some processes of how you come to know, understand, make judgements and decide to take action. This chapter focuses particularly on first person practice introduced in Chapter 1. At its core, first person practice means that your own beliefs, values, assumptions, ways of thinking, strategies and behaviour and so on are afforded a central place of inquiry in your action research practice.

The central process of first person practice is how to be authentic. First person authenticity simply means that there is a consistency between being attentive to your experience, being intelligent in how you question that experience and frame insights, being reasonable in preferring as probable or certain the explanations which provide the best account for the data and being responsible for your actions. These activities form a general empirical method that transcends all philosophical positions as it describes the invariant and recognizable operations of human knowing. Be attentive (to experience). Be intelligent (in inquiry). Be reasonable (in making judgements). Be responsible (in making decisions and taking action). Tools such as, keeping a journal and using the ladder of inference provide ways of distinguishing between data, reasoning and conclusions in a rather neat way.

As action research is fundamentally a collaborative process second person inquiry/practice is where we work with others to both inquire together and to take action are paramount. The challenge is to create and support an inquiring disposition in others, such as in colleagues, in the management team, in project teams.

Exercises A and B at the end of the chapter afford you an opportunity to practice first person skills.