Researchers’ learning – research projects as professional development

A main aim of the CIESL project is to study students’ and teachers’ learning processes and their effect on student learning.

Four researchers discussing.

Given that we are interested in how students and teachers learn, a natural question to ask is: What about our own learning processes and learning outcome in the project? 

“Well, I don’t have to write this paper in English, but I do because I like to challenge myself, learn something new, and eventually I would like to write scientific articles in English… and just think about all the interesting articles I have read and what I have learned about research methods writing this paper..."

(CIESL research team member)

It is still too early to draw conclusions on the learning outcome of the research team members. However, as the quote above indicate, we are in a process of learning. Providing opportunities for formal qualifications for individual research team members was a focus already in the planning of the project.

The main aim of the CIESL project is of course to shed light on the research questions. However, the project also provide us with opportunities to focus systematically on the development of the individual researcher and the field of educational research in general.

The CIESL project has a rather large research group where the team members are at different stages of their research career. For some the project is the start of their research career, some have worked as teacher trainers with little or no time to research and others are professor that have extended research experience with large scale research projects. No matter where we are in our career, we have that in common that the CIESL project provide opportunities for further development.

Opportunities for formal qualifications

Many projects funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) provide opportunities for doctoral and post doctoral students. These recruitment positions are important in recruitment to the field of educational research. They have contributed to the improvement of educational research. Over the years many researchers have started their career as result of projects funded by RCN, and post doctoral positions projects has boosted many research carriers.

The CIESL project has two recruitment positions, a university funded PhD and a RCN funded post doctor, held by Ksenia (Sue) Solheim and Trude Havik respectively. The research team, and the senior researchers in particular, has a responsibility to supervise and support them in their development as researchers.

A research project is a possibility for further development for all researchers involved. Research projects are key instrument for developing high—quality, relevant knowledge. The CIESL research team aim to contribute to the development at our respective institutions. We do this through systematic work in providing opportunities for assistant professors to work towards qualifying to associate professors, associate professors to full professors. One approach is that we systematically plan for “projects within the project” that will provide individual team members with research experience and knowledge that will contribute to formal qualifications as associate or full professors.

International collaboration

We intended to contribute to rise the expertise among the research communities. Important in this is the opportunity provided by funding from RCN’s FINNUT program for collaboration with international researchers, experts in their respective fields. The purpose of international cooperation is to enhance quality and capacity in our research, and we will both benefit from and contribute to international knowledge-sharing in this. International cooperation is especially vital for conducting high-quality, research that can generate new important insights.

In the project we have specific plans for international cooperation. Examples are plans for co- authoring with international colleagues, research mobility and further develop research collaboration and networks with international colleagues and network.

The senior researchers in CIESL have published internationally for many years. This is, however, not the common in the field. Despite growing international collaboration in Norwegian educational research, recent analysis of publication statistics shows that there still is relatively little international publication and that Norwegian remains the dominant publication language in the field. The CIESL-research team aim to publish in high quality international journals. International collaboration will strengthen the dissemination of knowledge.

It is still too early to judge on our learning outcome in the project. However, we have a dynamic research group consisting of experienced, and less experiences researchers, national collaboration as well as international. We can make a significant contribution on the international research front, and learn and develop in the process.