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Transforming personal learning and growth into informative research: modelling a three level intersubjective process

Mitchell-Smith, Zinnia (2013) Transforming personal learning and growth into informative research: modelling a three level intersubjective process. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This is a methodological study, inspired by my undergraduate experiences of Heuristic Research (Moustakas, 1990) and Co-operative Experiential Inquiry (Reason and Heron, 1986). I became interested in social science research approaches that embrace the notion of people exploring their own experience through introspective, collaborative and creative processes. I questioned, ‘what makes it research?’ as I was interested in how the process of discovery I had experienced could be considered research rather than personal learning. With co-researchers I identified personal growth as an outcome of research, I also recognised how it enhanced research findings. In this thesis I offer a model for transforming personal growth into informative research. The model is framed by three levels of inquiry based on introspection, interaction and the communication of research findings. I explored these three levels through my involvement in seven collaborative inquiry groups, engagement with subjective and introspective research and continued reflection on my own process. Activities are suggested which have been found to facilitate personal growth and transform it into informative research. This occurs through processes which allow the research to emerge and develop according to the needs and interests of the co-researchers involved. I suggest the resulting model is of value as a research approach where empowerment and personal growth are a corollary aim, for those who wish to explore their personal or professional experience as a bridge to academic research and as a way of research co-existing with work and personal life.

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