Self-Reflection and Vulnerability in Action Research: Bringing Forth New Worlds in Our Learning

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This paper looks at experiences in using action research in a self-reflective fashion. It addresses some of the problems which the action researcher has in coping with ourselves in our research. Mendes (1996) quotes Maturana: “Everything is fundamental in our being alive and therefore, if we want to explain human experience we need to understand how being alive together generates our existence.”2 Although I would add that the social view of existence can be complemented by the view that our personal existence comes forth from a deeper domain, this statement is my starting point. Working from a anecdote which demonstrates the critical importance of individual perception in labeling any issue as a “mess,” I discuss the importance of self-reflection in the research process and the importance to us as researchers in recognizing our own vulnerability in the research context. Finally, I describe some positive outcomes or “prizes” of recognizing our vulnerability in research processes and using this vulnerability as a spur to improving our research.

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