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Being and becoming critical friends as a sustainable support function in academic work
Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stavanger, Stavanger (NOR).
University West, Department of Health Sciences, Section for health promotion and care sciences. Department of Behavioral Science, Oslo Metropolitan University (NOR); Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University (SWE). (LINA; LOV)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7669-4702
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 99-100Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As we strive to teach our students to think critically about health and well-being in professional work, based on cooperation, life-long learning, and sustainability in working life, we need to meet the challenge of applying strategies to achieve this in academia as well. Stolle et al. (2018) underline the need to better understand CF as a research tool, to improve ourselves as self-study researchers versus teacher educators. We need to collaborate, to establish safe ways of working and negotiate shared understandings to develop and growth in professional academic achievement. Addressing sustainability challenges is most effective when coproduced by academics and non-academics in a way that provides solutions and contributions to the related scientific body of knowledge (Schneider et al., 2021). This presentation explores CF as a sustainable support function based on our experiences in a co -produced research project in a Norwegian municipality. The research question is: What characterizes CF as a sustainable support function in a follow-up research project in a Norwegian municipality?

The case: The municipality has an ongoing innovation project “The team around the teacher and the pupil (2019 –2023)”. This project has a public health- and preventive perspective based on experienced challenges in the local school setting. The focus of the project is to strengthen the pupils’ learning environment and learning outcomes, by involving the reorganization of interdisciplinary and interprofessional resources to promote coping, belonging and good mental health in all the primary and secondary schools in the municipality (Folkman et al., 2020). The research group was interdisciplinary and worked in close collaboration with the municipality´s project leaders. The project also included master students’ projects. The engagement of master students in a co -produced research project provides the students with work-integrated learning experience of research with practice. 

Theory: Co-production of knowledge must explicitly recognize multiple ways of knowing and doing (Schneider et al., 2021). CF involves trusting relationships, productive tensions, and two-way learning as mechanism (Knowles et al., 2018; Stolle et al., 2018). The connection between reflection and CF (Stolle et. al, 2018), aligns with core participatory mechanisms that enable ‘dialogue and iteration’ and authentic involvement (Knowles et al., 2018; Norén & Wallin, 2018). Conflicting agendas require that parts reflect on the principles of respect and solidarity to ensure a broader collective goal and that each agenda can be met while maintaining the integrity of the overarching goal of the research (Page, 2022). Reflection is a meaning-making process highlighting relationships (Stolle et al., 2018). 

Method and analysis: The research question led to an integrated analytic process (Strøm & Fagermoen, 2012), based on the project documents, reports, and articles from the project. The deductive analysis involved the interpretation of the data to explore characteristics of CF as sustainable support in work integrated learning. Two themes emerged through the analysis process: CF and knowledge production in the project and CF: mandate and role. 

Results

CF and knowledge production in the project: There was a period of initial negotiations between the project leader and the research group, as the project leader wanted to develop a research design suitable to support the objectives and aims of the project. Therefore, work ascritical friends, started by critical questions from the research group about the operationalization of research objectives in the project and the pre-planned measures of intended results. There were negotiations of understanding in the processes of developing a contract and research plan and considering knowledge from both parties. This time-consuming process was ongoing through the follow-up research, as new perspectives and results emerged. However, this also led to a closer collaboration with more school staff and leaders in the municipality, which was beneficial for understanding the results from the project.

CF: mandate and role: Co-production in the research process took place in a field of tension, where the project leaders and the researchers acted as critical friends to each other. The underlying tension, based on the project leader`s mandate, role and knowledge of the context, and the research groups roles and competence in research methodology, proved to enhance the learning for both parties and encompassed continuous need for dialogue. However, through CF the research of the project was also used to inform and improve the project, and then provide additional collaborative research topics. The controverses advanced a dynamic co-creative learning process, linked to knowledge of practice-based evaluation research in this context, but also a nearer friendship that obliged.

Discussion

Our results show, that that CF in co-production between practice and research can contribute to promoting the legitimacy of the research contribution in the field of practice the project deals with, supported by Schneider et al., (2021). For researchers’ objectivity and integrity in the research process is essential, but this can be experienced as conflicting with project leaders’ views and need for measurable outcomes. Reflecting rooted in a scientific inquiry, can serve as generating new meaning and learning opportunity for both parties (Stolle et al., 2018). The results underpin the importance of understanding one’s language and respecting each other’s knowledge when co-producing together with academia and practice (Schneider et al., 2021). To push our thinking and learning asking critical questions, can be limited by being “best friends” (Stolle et al., 2018), thus hav ing different views are an asset. Agreement must be reached about different roles, responsibilities and knowledge, and how the objectives of each stakeholder can be achieved (Page, 2022). The participating students could have been even more involved in the CF dialogues. They were invited to result presentation meetings, but work-integrated learning would have been enhanced if they had been able to participate on more equal terms. 

Conclusion

This paper presents joint learning from a mainly online CF experience, formed by mutual respect and leading to increased learning and increased value of research outcomes. The value of research collaboration and support with CF is increased. This is important in academia and for a sustainable work situation for research ers. The project also provided work-integrated learning for students, but this could have been further enhanced. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 99-100
Keywords [en]
life-long learning, working life, health
National Category
Nursing Pedagogy Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; NURSING AND PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE, Nursing science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19569ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19569DiVA, id: diva2:1725652
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Available from: 2023-01-11 Created: 2023-01-11 Last updated: 2023-01-31Bibliographically approved

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Areskoug Josefsson, Kristina

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