Professional development and the concept of applied science. Partnership as platforms of knowledge development

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Professional development and the concept of applied science – partnerships as platforms of knowledge development.keywordsKnowledge-triangle, Frascati-manual, applied science, action researchGeneral description on research questions, objectives and theoretical frameworkHow does knowledge travel? That is the question asked and investigated within the Danish educational sector these years. It is the international agreement, the Fascati manual 2002, which gives rise to this question. Guided by an underlying interest of knowledge flow between research, practice and education (the knowledge triangle), the Danish government are investing in research milieus at the university Colleges – because they are considered as the welfare institution closest connected to developing and educating welfare professionals. Thus, the commitment and obligation of the University colleges (in Denmark) on development within education and professions is intensified. International revaluations of knowledge-based professional standards have had a great influence on national, local and contextual interpretations of what kind of knowledge and which forms of education, creates strong professions (Brøgger 2015). Hence, this actualize the importance of professionalism and ability to base practice on more scientifically recognized forms of knowledge (Hjort 2012). In the Frascati manual research knowledge is categorized into three types; Basic research, Applied research and Research and Development (R&D)(OECD 2002). In Denmark, this result in a division of tasks and roles as the universities is considered to be providers of basic research (free research), while the University Colleges is supplier of knowledge from R&D project which should result in possible applicable research. The ambition is that the Danish university Colleges is to become Universities of Applied Sciences, through Research and Development focusing; on creative work done on a systematic basis to increase existing knowledge, as well as the utilization of this knowledge to devise new applications ( the Frascati-manual, a form of international trickle down logic is emphasized which assumes that knowledge is primarily transported into public and private institutions through movements from basic research to applied research and further to development and use. The Frascati manual's understanding of how knowledge can be created and transported for generally useful purposes, has roots in a (natural-) scientific understanding on how (basic) research in eg. specific technological or health problems may lead to the development of new methods of treatment or new types of technology. These new methods or technologies is directly applicable into the work of the professionals and of immediate benefit for the users. However, the image is more complex when it comes to humanistic and social sciences. This has roots in theoretical and methodological considerations about how we cannot separate knowledge from change and theory from practice (Dewey 1910, Lewin 1948).Action research offers an alternative framework for critical reflection on the relationship between practice and research. In particular, the development of an orientation towards application that relates to the concept of utility and frames the discussion about who should benefit from the research, why and how? This discussion is revitalized in a welfare society characterized by a gradually massive erosion of social orientation in favor of basic social acceleration and transformation processes (Rosa 2013, Sennett 2000, Giddens 1991), which in national contexts transforms into complex developments and challenges to the professions and to public service. In other words. When society becomes more bureaucratic and monitored, the professions lose voice and ground as developers of new strategies and solutions to welfare problems. Research projects done in partnerships with the professions could inhibit these types of development. Methods/methodologyThe paper will reflect on these topics within a methodological frame. How can partnerships between practice and research develop new answers to challenges within the welfare sector and within the work of professionals?Action research started as a critical response to a positivistic elitist research - positivism (Lewin 1948, Skjervheim 1957, Horton & Freire 1990, Berger and Luckman 1966). Among other things, the tradition has contributed with a criticism of the tendency of research itself as undemocratic. The ability of research to put forward the creation of spaces for participation and democratization is in focus. Thus, a recent encyclopedia present AR like this:A global family of related approaches that integrate theory and action with the goal of addressing important organizational, community and social issues together with those who experience them (Coghlan and Brydon-Miller 2014: xxv).The critical analyzes created within the frame of AR are often developed in partnerships with institutions or/and cooperation with the actors of the field at hand; the children, the young people, the disabled or the employees, and it is in the wake of these analyzes that new ideas and options for social development and social practices arises. The local analytic perspective is compared to a larger narrative about the educational field (in crisis), at the same time creating movement in socially closed instrumental modes of operation, creating and maintaining democratic and liberating processes. The complex and contradictory developments in pedagogical practice cannot find useful answers outside the field itself.The paper will introduce a case on action research with professionals round participatory processes with young people at risk, and how this may constitute an alternative response to the demand for applied science. The project ran from 2016-2018 and during that time, we worked with 29 institutions forming knowledge producing experimental partnerships. Expected outcomes/results The critical discussion of how we can form partnerships in the knowledge triangle seeks to transcend more traditional ways of understanding the relationship and the differences between basic research and applied research. In this perspective, basic research and applied research are not necessarily two different sizes. It is rather the perspective of the societal role and function of research, which is relevant to discuss. The project mentioned above shows that the professionals throughout the project developed new knowledge on three different areas: •How to engage young people collectively in developing processes round their life•How to recognize and reflect on structural barriers within the frame of their institution•And how these new insights all has something to say, back into the general knowledge pool and at equal terms as more evidence generated knowledge. What works can also be developed ‘bottom-up’. In this optic, the Frascati manual's trickle-down logic becomes inappropriate; it is socially unproductive to let the transport of knowledge begin with the undemocratic production of knowledge. For action researchers, the question of science is not a one-to-one logic, nor is it a question of basic science's 'real' scientific knowledge to be translated into use - or vice versa. It is a question about what direction society will be able to move and what role research can play in this. In this way, action research potentially contributes to a perspective that challenges the ambitious reading of the Frascati manual, as well as offering a broad perspective of what an orientation toward applicability in research can become.References (400 words) Berger, Peter L. and Thomas Luckmann (1966). The social construction of reality. Anchoor BooksBrøgger, K. (2015). The faceless masters of higher education: governing through standards: the Bologna Process and the new realities of higher education. København: Institut for Uddannelse og Pædagogik (DPU), Aarhus Universitet.Coghlan, D & Brydon-miller, M (2014). The Sage Encyclopedia of Action Research. London: SageDewey, J. ( 1987(1910)). How We Think. Dover: Dover publicationsGibbons, M. et al. (1994). The New Production of Knowledge. The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: SAGE publications.Giddens, A. (1991). The consequences of modernity. Polity Press.Hjort, K. (2012). Det affektive arbejde. København: Samfundslitteratur.Lewin, Kurt (1946): Resolving social conflicts, New York, Harper & BrothersNielsen, Kurt Aagaard (1996): Arbejdets sociale orientering. Forlaget sociologiOECD (2002). Frascati Manual: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development, 6th edition. OECD.orgRosa, H. (2014). Fremmedgørelse og acceleration. København: Hans ReitzelSennett, R. (2000 ). Corrosion of Character. Ww Norton and Co inc.Skjervheim, Hans (1957). Deltakar og tilskodar. Oslo: Stencilserie, Oslo Universitet
Original languageEnglish
Publication date30 Sep 2018
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2018
EventECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research? - Free University Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
Duration: 4 Sep 20187 Sep 2018


ConferenceECER 2018
LocationFree University Bolzano
Internet address


  • education, professions and jobs

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