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The process is the outcome: a framework for student ‘research as praxis’ - Feenstra
The Process is the OutcomeThe Process is the Outcome
A Framework for Student "Research as Praxis"
Kyle Feenstra - Education Librarian
University of Manitoba - Winnipeg, Canada
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Links & Downloads
Draft Framework: "Research as Praxis"
Printable Slides (pdf)
Link to this slide deck
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“What is the role of the librarian in the Freirean vision of
critical literacy? Is the library a passive information bank
where students and faculty make knowledge deposits and
withdrawals, or is it a place where students actively engage
existing knowledge and shape it to their own current and
future uses? And what is the librarian’s role as an educator in
this process?” (1)
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[uncertainty allows for new ways of thinking and doing]
"We have a chance to [unlearn] in the name of research
"... a way to keep moving against tendencies to settle into
the various dogmas and reductionisms that await us once
we think we have arrived". (2)
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The current discourse of critical literacy in LIS
literature frequently overlooks Freire's primary
concern for student ontology.
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A framework for student ontology that serves as a starting
point for a critical pedagogy of literacy education in
academic library settings...
Dialogue as Reciprocity
Voice as Autonomy
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"While the problem of humanization has always, from an
axiological point of view, been humankind’s central
problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable
concern. Concern for humanization leads at once to the
recognition of dehumanization not only as an ontological
possibility but an historical reality. And as an individual
perceives the extent of dehumanization, he or she may ask
if humanization is a viable possibility. Within history, in
concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and
dehumanization are possibilities for a person as an
uncompleted being conscious of their incompletion". (3)
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Freire's View of Humanization
As imperfect, unﬁnished beings we
can never become fully human. We
can only engage in our ontological
and historical purpose of becoming
What makes us human is our
ability to "[reﬂect] and [act]
upon the world in order to
transform it". (4)
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to study of the way we exist in the world
Through praxis we encounter
ourselves and a constructed
reality that is always in process
and best understood by its
By questioning the world's
contradictions we reveal the
oppressive structures that
interfere with one's right to
One cannot speak with
authenticity if one speaks alone.
Just as humanity is made in
praxis, so praxis is made in
To speak alone is to rob others of
"to speak a true word is to transform
the world" (5)
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Literacy as "naming the world"
involves the interpretation and
authorship of knowledge.
How we read the world, our
constructed reality, will shape
how we read written texts.
meaning making processes
"reading the world and the word" (6)
"... a person is literate to
the extent that they are
able to use language for
social and political
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Systems of education tend
to reproduce dominant
Even if students are not the
makers of their own social
reality, if given space for
critical thinking they are
able to transcend the
dominant discourse and
critical thinking is dialectical thinking
This is "critical consciousness".
Mediated by a "language of
possibility" we identify
contradictions in the world in a
process of reinventing culture
and power. (8)
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Constructivism [as learning theory]
Reality is the world of our
experiences... a world of constancies
from which we construct knowledge
and meaning. (9)
"What determines the value of the
conceptual structures is their
experiential adequacy, the goodness
of their ﬁt with experience, their
viability as a means for the solving of
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Constructivism [as pedagogy]
The constructivist teacher is not only concerned with the learning processes that
allow for the construction of knowledge but also how information and their sources
are validated and prioritized.
This leads to an immediate concern with the role
power has in the construction of knowledge and
culture. Critical constructivists always ask: Whose interests are
served by the pedagogy
shaping learning in
schools & universities
and their libraries? (11)
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Constructivism [as pedagogy]
It is the role of the teacher to
"introduce [their] students to the
social and physical world and
help them build for themselves
an epistemological infrastructure
for interpreting the phenomena
they confront". (12)
The teacher offers to students:
an understanding of constructivism as
epistemological basis for learning and
an ontological basis for 'becoming'.
a framework for critical thinking.
space for constructive dialogue.
afﬁrmation of their creativity.
Space for Praxis
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Praxis [as reciprocity]
“What different politics become possible when [research] projects are put at risk
rather than positioned to claim a better vantage point that can ‘emancipate’ some
Lather's article Research as Praxis (1986) provides a framework for reciprocity in
information literacy education. In the same way that Kincheloe sees teaching
learning and research as interconnected processes, I remove the distinction between
Lather's view of research and the constructivist notion of learning.
theoretically informed reﬂection and action for social transformation
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Praxis [as reciprocity]
Theory is useful when it:
As we rely on theory
to shape research
and learning we must
also rely on research
and learning to
sheds light on lived experience,
accounts for human struggle, and
respects the intellectual capacity of the
For dialogic praxis to be mutually afﬁrming research participants must be given the
right to speak for themselves. All participants share the process of testing the
usefulness of theory and constructing new meaning.
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Praxis [as reciprocity]
Pedagogy that accepts:
Allowing students a voice will
always be political.
Emerging processes are messy
experiences involving many
"returns and reversals".
learning takes place in the social
tensions that "structure [praxis]
towards the production of new
practices", knowledge, and
intellectual theory is neither imposed on the
student nor used to simplify their lived
experience and knowledge.
the ontology of the student is allowed
critical (dialectical) thinking exposes the
contradictions in dominant discourses that
fail to serve the interests of the student.
students are invited to critique "the
[teacher's] account of their worldview".
the teacher participates in "theoretically
guided action" . (16)
Makes space for praxis where:
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Voice [as "giving an account of one's life"]
the process of articulating the world from a distinctive embodied position. (17)
More than "speech acts"...
Voice is part of
and an expression of ... (18)
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Relies on shared resources (i.e. language).
"Giving an account" as a meaning making
process is only possible through the
interconnectivity of human narratives.
Voice is a form of agency.
Can be conceived of as more than discourse
or speech acts because it is connected to the
whole of human action, including our past
and present selves.
Voice is a unique (and limited) embodied
We understand our own experiences
through attention to a plurality of social
Voice requires a form.
If forms of expression do not belong to the
student as something they can "adapt or
control" the authenticity of their voice is
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Voice [what counts?]
Whose voices are recognized?
Who are the "good students"?
Whose language is considered an
acceptable medium to express
What are the accepted forms of
"Responsibility for the
legitimization of voice shifts to
the listener" (20)
always an act
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Creating Space for Voice
It cannot be assumed that because we do not ideologically oppose the presence
of marginalized voices in the library that we have made space for voice.
We must be wary of "strategies [and dialogue that give] the illusions of equality
while in fact leaving the authoritarian nature of the student/teacher
relationship intact". (21)
We must attend to the ways that power is embedded in and gives shape to
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How can the library make space for the
voice of the learner, ensuring that it is
visible and validated as a meaningful
expression alongside the privileged
voices of academics, and dominant
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1. This question was ﬁrst posed in Elmborg (2006) and quoted in Jacobs (2008).
2. Patti Lather (2018), p. 80-81.
3. Paulo Freire's opening to Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000), p. 43.
4. Peter Roberts (2000).
5. For Freire a “true word” is authentic expression, in other words “true” to one’s ontology. (2000).
6. Freire (1987) deﬁne’s “the world” as one’s reality. For Freire reading the world always precedes
reading the word. It is constructed reality.
7. Freire (1987), p. 159.
8. Freire (1987).
9. Ernst Von Glaserfeld (2007) argues, the reliability of conceptual information shapes the way we
construct knowledge. This includes the reliability of dominant discourses.
10. Jean Piaget quoted in Von Glaserfeld, (2007).
11. Joe Kincheloe (2005).
12. For Kincheloe, (2005) it is the role of the teacher in the process of learning to introduce an
epistemological framework that operates as a space for praxis.
13. Kincheloe (2003) , p. 42.
14. Lather (2018), p. 80.
15. Lather (2018) discusses the theory that informs and is created from the research process.
16. Lather’s (1986, 2018) view of praxis as reciprocity provides a starting point for breaking down the
power dichotomy between teacher and student.
17. Nick Couldry (2010), p. 9.
18. Julie McLeod (2011) broadens the concept of “voice”.
19. Couldry (2010).
20. McLeod (2011), p. 185.
21. Ellsworth quoted in Mcleod, 2011, p. 184.
*All licensed images from unless otherwise noted.Wikimedia Commons
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