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Reflections on co-production as a research practice in the field of foreign language teaching and learning – Date limite (résumé) : 1 avril 2024

Bulletin de la VALS/ASLA.

Le bulletin sera plurilingue, les abstracts sont acceptés en allemand, français, anglais ou italien.

Editors

Martina Zimmermann, HEP Vaud (martina.zimmermann@hepl.ch)

Luc Fivaz, HEP Vaud (luc.fivaz@hepl.ch)

General background: co-productive research in applied linguistics

Social sciences have long been engaged in debates surrounding the transferability of research to real-world contexts and the value of scientific knowledge (Becker 2023). Following World War II, the field of education underwent a significant transformation, being recognized as « scientific » and shifting its focus from practical problem-solving to the development of theoretical understandings of learning processes (Lewin 2013; Sato et al. 2021). Similarly, research in second/foreign language learning and teaching experienced a shift in the 1990s, transitioning from practical inquiries to more theoretical investigations (Rose & McKinley 2017). Recently, concerns have arisen regarding the division between researchers and practitioners, with scholars such as Kramsch (2015) questioning the purpose of research and cautioning against further intellectualization of the field.

Recognizing “knowledge mobilization” as an interactive, social, and gradual two-way process (Levin 2013: 2), collaborative efforts between researchers and practitioners have emerged, aimed at developing relevant research questions, conducting studies, and implementing findings (cf. Sato & Loewen 2022). In applied linguistics, co- productive research practices have gained prominence, emphasizing close collaboration with language users, educators, and other stakeholders throughout the research process (Bednarz, 2013; Bento, 2020; Sato & Loewen, 2022). “As the prefix ‘co-’ implies”, “co-production of research entails people from different settings and backgrounds doing research together” and “there is usually an active process of working together with some degree of collaboration and cooperation” (Banks et al. 2019: 5).

When researchers opt for co-productive approaches, the chosen methodology affects all aspects of the process, from planning to reporting, and comes with different demands. Researchers need to be prepared to engage in an ongoing bidirectional dialogue and negotiation with their research participants, as well as to reflect critically on their own assumptions, biases, and practices. This requires a high degree of reflexivity and an openness to different perspectives and ways of knowing (Grasz et al. 2020). Moreover, the role of researchers has shifted from that of objective observers to active participants in the research process (Becker 2023). In a co-productive research approach, participants are not viewed as passive sources of data, but as individuals (and/or partners) who co-produce data (and hence knowledge) through their interactions with the researcher and have a greater say in the research process, as well as contribute to shaping the research outcomes in meaningful ways (Medyges 2017). For instance, perspectives, experiences, and needs of language teachers and learners may be taken into account to ensure that the resulting findings are relevant and applicable to the real-world context of language learning and teaching. For future language teachers, co-productive research may provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience in research methods and to develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of language learning and teaching. Overall, this involves a reconceptualization of the relationship between researchers and research participants, with the latter being empowered to shape the research process and outcomes in meaningful ways (Altrichter & Mayr 2004; McKinley & Rose 2020; Wulf et al. 2020).

While co-production is often seen as a panacea to overcome the challenges of conducting research in complex, dynamic social contexts, it is not without its own set of dilemmas, tensions, and questions (McKinley & Rose 2017). These may include issues related to power, representation, and voice, as well as questions about the compatibility of different agendas and perspectives (Guignon & Morrissette 2006). Research participants may have different ideas about the research process, the interpretation of data, and the dissemination of findings. These challenges require researchers to engage in a critical reflection and dialogue with their research participants throughout the research process, and to be open to the possibility of unexpected outcomes and unanticipated types of data.

Aims and topics covered by the special issue

Applied linguistics is increasingly acknowledging the need for a deeper understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with co-productive research methods (Brew & Mantai 2017; Desgagné et al. 2001). This special issue aims to delve into the complexities and specificities of co-production as a research practice within this domain. It provides a forum for scholars to engage in meaningful (meta-)discussions on the various aspects of co-productive research practices, including the development of appropriate methodological frameworks, the selection of relevant research questions, and the effective co-production of data (Christianakis 2010). Overall, this special issue seeks to stimulate critical reflection and debate on the potential benefits and challenges of “knowledge mobilization” linked to co-productive research approaches in applied linguistics. This call for papers invites authors to address and critically discuss crucial dilemmas, tensions and questions that can arise when embarking on co-productive research projects (Jaffe 2012). In particular, we are looking for contributions related to teaching and learning (foreign/second) languages and training language teachers. The papers should explore how co-productive research approaches affect the research process, methodological decisions, and roles of those involved (teachers, researchers, students, …) (Mercer-Mapstone et al. 2017; Rose 2019). Additionally, the papers should address the development of reflectivity and reflexivity in relation to co-productive research practices. We welcome papers focusing on finalized or on-going research projects sharing methodological reflections, which can be based on case studies, empirical research, and literature reviews in applied linguistics. Ultimately, we hope that this special issue will inspire further research and advance our understanding of co-productive research practices in applied linguistics. We therefore invite papers that investigate the added value of co-produced research and focus on the following questions.

● How are reflectivity and reflexivity developed, i.e., the capability to decenter and to reflect on one’s own conceptions and practices in relation to those of others (Guignon & Morrissette 2006; Scarino 2014)? One key focus of this special issue is on the development of reflectivity and reflexivity in co-productive research practices. Specifically, we are interested in exploring how co-production can support researchers in developing the capacity to decenter and reflect on their own conceptions and practices in relation to those of others. This might involve examining how co-production can help to challenge assumptions and biases, facilitate new perspectives and insights, and promote a deeper understanding of the complex social dynamics at play in the research process. We welcome papers that explore these issues and shed light on the ways in which co-productive research can support the development of reflectivity and reflexivity in applied linguistics.

● How are roles shifted/altered/reconstructed between those involved when adopting a co-productive research approach? How are their potentially (in-) compatible agendas dealt with and which consequences come with these? How are issues of authorship approached in line with the obtained results (Sato et al. 2021)? Adopting a co-productive research approach can have significant implications for the roles and relationships between researchers and participants. The traditional researcher-participant dichotomy is blurred, and participants are seen as active co-producers of knowledge rather than passive sources of data. As a result, the roles of participants and researchers may become more fluid and interchangeable, with participants having greater agency and input into the research process. However, this shift can also lead to challenges in terms of power dynamics, as participants may have different agendas or goals than the researchers, and conflicts may arise. In such cases, researchers must negotiate and navigate these differences while scientific standards are upheld. The consequences of these shifts in roles and agendas can vary, from improved engagement and ownership of the research process/results by participants to potential conflicts and challenges that may need to be addressed. Furthermore, the question of authorship in co-productive research raises significant issues of attribution and recognition for contributions made by all participants involved. It becomes crucial to address who has the final say in determining what counts as results and how authorship is distributed and acknowledged, especially when multiple voices, perspectives and possibly speakers with different linguistic repertoires are involved.

● Which methodological decisions (e.g., including multimodal, multilingual data co-produced by language teachers/learners/student teachers) are taken and why? What about unforeseen consequences (e.g., ending up with unforeseen types of data and/or results)? Authors are invited to elaborate on methodological decisions when adopting a co-productive research approach, such as the inclusion of multimodal, multilingual data co-produced by different social actors (e.g., language teachers, learners, or student teachers). Authors are encouraged to explain the reasons for their methodological decisions and discuss any unexpected outcomes that may arise from using this approach. This may include unforeseen types of data, their hierarchization or other consequences that were not originally anticipated. The papers should reflect on how these methodological decisions and their consequences may affect the overall research process and its outcomes.

Important dates: (provisional planning)

● 01.04.2024: Deadline to send abstracts

● 22.04.2024: Notification of acceptance

● 01.09.2024: Submission deadline for the first version and double-blind review

process

● 30.11.2024: Feedback from reviewers and correction by author(s)

● 31.01.2025: Submission deadline for the final version