Teacher Inquiry Groups and Their Role in Advancing Critical Qualitative Research in K-12 Schools

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Teacher Inquiry Groups and Their Role in Advancing Critical Qualitative Research in K-12 Schools
Stream: Professional Training, Development & Concerns in Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Susan Tilley, Brock University, Canada


Educational research literature documents a rich history of research in schools involving teachers and students. Visible in that body of literature is a shift from a historical dependence on positivist and post-positivist frameworks to a proliferation of research situated within a qualitative, interpretivist paradigm. In this presentation, I argue the importance of conducting critical qualitative research in K-12 schools to understand the complex issues embedded in institutional structures that lead to inequitable experiences and outcomes for students, especially those who do not reflect the dominant, white, heterosexual, middle-class norms. I introduce Teacher Inquiry Groups (TIGs) as a form of critical qualitative research that provide a context where teachers can apply a critical theoretical lens to examine, individually and together, their pedagogical and curricular practices and to imagine possibilities for change. Such a critical lens requires teachers to ask what knowledge counts and why when making their curricular decisions and to recognize how their pedagogical praxis supports a Eurocentric view that often pays little attention to diversity and the inequities that exists in classrooms today. I present research I conducted as part of a Canadian 5-year university and school-based study that used TIGs to explore how English language arts teachers and their students used postcolonial literary texts to examine issues of social justice. My research demonstrated the potential of TIGs to serve as exciting opportunities for teachers to engage in critical qualitative research while also experiencing meaningful professional development and change.

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