I work in a School of Education as a teacher educator and researcher in the broad field of sociology of education. When I was doing my own doctoral studies, many years ago, I was part of several research and discussion groups. The purpose of these groups was to share and discuss theoretical ideas by reading a book or series of articles together as a group. When I took up a position as a Research Center Director, I worked with colleagues to set up a couple of research reading groups for doctoral students.
I am now part of a research interest group that has decided to meet fortnightly, read each others publications, and then comment on and discuss these publications.
There are several points of difference from the earlier reading group incarnations. First, the members of the current reading group actually read each others publications, as well as a key theoretical piece recommended by the author of the publication. Second, this reading homework is undertaken prior to the face-to-face meeting. At the actual reading group meeting, the author of the publication provides a brief summary of the paper. Two other people in the group are assigned the following tasks, to chair the discussion and to write a blog about the discussion. All members of the group have agreed to learn how to use social media to engage a wider audience in the discussion.
Is the small experiment working? I have learnt many things from this experiment. First, I have engaged seriously with the work of my colleagues. I haven’t simply read titles of their articles or listened to a three minute presentation about their work. I have read one of their articles. I have read an article by a key theorist informing their work. I have engaged in a detailed conversation about the article. And I have engaged in conversations about this work in social media forums.
I would be interested in hearing what other members of the group think about the ‘wee experiment’