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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Re(imagining) educational research in Haiti: (Pt 1 #3)

3. Encourage educational research and disseminating this research through a professional journal and web-site.

Currently, educators in Haiti rely on research, and the resulting reports, articles, and books, that is based in North American and European contexts. We need more (and better) research completed in, and on, Haiti. A national principals' organization can support this through the certification process (described earlier), partnerships with academics at Haitian universities, and through "knowledge mobilization."

Knowledge mobilization refers to the dissemination of research. It can take place through workshops and courses but, to cast the widest net, should certainly include dissemination through a professional journal and website (see www.haitieducationalleadership.com). Mobilizing the information contained within research reports is not really all that challenging in today's digital age; first, we have to establish a mind-set (a professional expectation) that research is something all educators should be involved in.

Typically, we refer to "on-the-ground" research as action research. Teachers and school administrators identify a problem and determine steps to investigate that problem, usually within their own school or local area. The findings lead to steps to resolve the problem, leading to improved practice. There is a cyclical nature to research as the action steps and changed practices should themselves be examined. Principals should be leading this type of action research on an on-going basis and setting new and improved direction for their schools based on the results. They should also be sharing the results of localized action research practices (knowledge mobilization) so that others can learn from their experiences.

I have led action research training in Haiti (see the guide I've published in French and English which is located on the www.haitieducationalleadership.com website). Principals can receive basic training in a day. One of the successful practices we developed in Haiti has been an opportunity, usually 4-6 months after the initial training, to bring the participants back together to share their experiences. In 2009, we published a number of these action research projects in a book (posted on www.haitieducationalleadership.com). Again, this is part of knowledge mobilization.

Haitian universities should be heavily involved in this process. Scholars within these institutions should be leading the training, supporting the research, and establishing conferences, journals, and web-sites to ensure the results are widely publicized.

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