Creative Research Methods in Education

This week marks the publication of Creative Research Methods in Education: Principles and Practices, which I have co-authored with Narelle Lemon, Dawn Mannay and Megan McPherson. The book was Narelle’s idea, and she floated it when we met in person in Derby, England, in May 2017. To begin with Narelle and I were working with another co-author, Katy Vigurs, who had to drop out after a few months due to unforeseen personal and professional pressures, but remained supportive of the book and its authors. Katy also played a significant part in shaping the book and I’m glad to be able to give her credit for that here. After Katy told us she needed to step back, Narelle and I discussed whether to go ahead as a duo or recruit other co-writers. We both felt the book was likely to be better with another author or two, and decided to approach one colleague each: I asked Dawn from Wales in the UK, and Narelle asked Megan from Australia. To our delight, they both agreed to get involved, and work began in earnest in October 2018.

As Narelle is also from Australia and I am from England in the UK, our team had a delightful symmetry. Megan is a practising artist, and Dawn is the author of Visual, Narrative and Creative Research Methods: Application, Reflection and Ethics. Narelle has co-authored several other books and I have also written and co-written several books. And we are all professional researchers too, so between us we have a lot of useful experience of research, writing, and related topics.

Creative research methods in education aren’t all that different from creative research methods in other disciplines, but we knew education-specific advice and case studies would be helpful for education researchers, whether they were new to research or more experienced, to help them understand how the methods could work in practice. And we also knew case studies would not be hard to find, because education researchers often take a similarly creative approach to research as they do to education. I had showcased the work of several education researchers in the first edition of my book on creative research methods, and I knew more examples would have appeared since I worked on that back in 2014.

Narelle has blogged elsewhere about why and how education researchers – and other researchers too – might use creative research methods. I’ve written about that on this blog, too; for more information click on the ‘research methods’ tag in the sidebar.

Our book is not the first book on creative methods for a particular discipline, though I think it is the first to be authored rather than edited. Creative Methods for Human Geographers is an edited collection from SAGE which came out in January 2021, and Creative Research in Music, an edited collection from Routledge, came out around the same time. I don’t have a copy of the Routledge book yet, but I do have the SAGE book. It covers a lot of the same principles and several of the same, or similar, methods to our book, albeit from a slightly different disciplinary viewpoint. It is interesting that the other two are both edited collections while ours is a co-authored book. I can see the point of an edited collection, because you can recruit contributors to write directly about the methods they use, but on the other hand, with a co-authored volume you get a more coherent narrative. I’m not sure one is ‘better’ than the other; I think either is justifiable.

I wonder which discipline will be next – and which will be after that… watch this space!

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