9.1 OU practitioner research
There is no central resource for holding information about practitioner research projects at the Open University. However, there are a number of research and scholarship groups at the Open University through which it may be possible to find out about projects currently being undertaken. Details of these groups can be found in the Involving Others section.
Also listed in the Involving Others section are thr two recent inititiaves, the Action Research Interest Group and theScholarship Site for Staff Tutors and Regional Managers who will doubtless be points of contact for practitioner researchers There are also some more long standing ways of identifying what research is either currently been done or has recently been completed. These are SRPP, eSTEeM and the CETLs.
Student Research Project Panel (SRPP)
Almost all research which involves students comes through the Student Research Project Panel (SRPP) and much of it could be described as practitioner research. SRPP publishes the titles of projects which have been approved on their website and so it is possible, if a title looks relevant, to approach them for the details of the researcher. In future, the name of the researcher will also be identified and so you will be able to contact them directly. It may be possible at some future date to search for this information in a database although this is probably still some way off. The link to SRPP approved projects can be found under the Further Information heading on the SRPP website: http://intranet6.open.ac.uk/mgt-info/iet-stats/srpp
Although a number of faculties have established scholarship or practitioner research networks, eSTEeM has probably done most to raise its profile outside the Science and MCT faculties in which it is based.
eSTEeM supports small-scale, generally one year, projects on teaching and learning with an emphasis on making conncetions internationally and with business and enterprise and focussing on e-assessment, mobile learning, online laboratories and the use of virtual learning environments.
eSTEeM offers a number of workshops and seminars, some of which are open to the wider Open University community, and they host an annual conference.
The eSTEeM website can be found here:
Practitoner research in the CETLs
Although not exactly recent, the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs) at the Open University were the main focus of activity for practitioner research from 2005-10. The CETLswere part of a government funded inititiave to improve teaching and learning in Higher Education. Overall, seventy-four CETLs were funded from 2005 to 2010, of which four, often referred to as the OpenCETL, were based at the Open University. These were:
- Centre for Open Learning in Mathematics, Science, Computing and Technology (COLMSCT)
- PiCETL [Physics and Astronomy)
- Personalised Integrated Learning Support (PILS)
- Practice-Based Professional Learning (PBPL)
Each CETL funded a number of projects, sometimes large numbers, whereby Open University staff were able to investigate their own teaching. Each CETL took a slightly different approach to practitoner research and so the scale and scope of the projects varied, from a few months to several years. Similarly, some CETLs, such as COLMSCT and PILS, involved Associate Lecturers wheras PiCETL and PBPL generally did not.
A link to each of the CETLs can be found via the OpenCETL website: http://www8.open.ac.uk/opencetl/
Unfortunately, there is, as yet, no way of searching the OpenCETL site and so it is a question of looking at individual project titles to identify those which might be of interest. Occasionally, the OU intranet search engine will identiy particular projects but this can't be guaranteed.