Comfort Mshelia at the “Practising Action Research” conference

Thursday, 18 Jun 2015

Comfort at the conferenceHeld in Dublin, Ireland, the conference had a focus on sharing and exploring issues that arise when working with action research in the kinds of real world contexts researchers are engaged with. The colloquium ethos was participative and the idea of "opening conversations" was a core element of the event. The programme was designed and structured to facilitate discussion and sharing experiences in plenary and parallel sessions.

Comfort remarked:

"The conference began with a keynote address by Victor J. Friedman, PhD titled ‘Creating Spaces for Change: Putting Field Theory into Practice through Action Research’. Victor’s talk was on linking social space and field theory and how these applied to social and organizational change. In smaller groups, the participants then discussed how these constructs could be applied to their personal ‘dilemmas’. On the final day of the conference, Prof David Coghlan gave a talk titled ‘Researching in the Present Tense’ which was about the use of first, second and third person enquiry in action research.

My presentation was titled ‘What can we learn from using action research to strengthen district health management in African countries? Experiences from PERFORM’. My talk focused on the challenges which were encountered as a result of using the action research approach in the project. The highlighted challenges were:

1. Using action research in nine different settings meant that analysing the data and understanding the findings was very complex and complicated.

2. Diaries were used to record the activities, learning and reflection of the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs). It was most difficult for the DHMTs to record their reflections.

3. The DHMTs were not familiar with action research so it took some time before they were able to assume ownership of the project.

If you would like to join the discussion on practising action research, you can join the newly formed action research group on LinkedIn."