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Participatory Action Research and the Experimental Process

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Title:Participatory Action Research and the Experimental Process
Authors:Eggleston, Alyson
Baina, Mayangna Yulbarangyang
Benedicto, Elena
Date Issued:13 Apr 2009
Abstract:This paper addresses the role of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach in the community's reappropriation of an externally-generated linguistic research project. By employing a PAR approach, we show that the indigenous researcher and community can still appropriate the work even if the research initiative has emerged from outside. The Mayangna of Nicaragua had established a linguistic research team in the mid 1990's. They were recently presented with a research initiative to document meronymies and spatial frames of reference as part of a larger project. Though part of this data had already been collected, this new project presented the opportunity to enlarge the database and view it from another perspective. The native researchers accepted that externally initiated proposal. Subsequently, a collaborative team was formed with indigenous and external researchers. The first step of the negotiation of the project involved a reevaluation of the experimental materials to adapt them to more culturally appropriate versions. Practical training on the technical aspects of the project ensued, including four parts: 1) experimental training in administering the tasks, 2) technical practice in video recording 3) the manipulation and uploading of digital media to ELAN, an annotation software tool, and 4) the actual collection and transcription of the data. During the first part of the training, the indigenous researchers performed the successive roles of participant, experimenter, and documenter. In this process, the indigenous researchers were able to evaluate the cultural appropriateness of the task design, and acquired new technological skills Ð building upon what they had acquired in a previous, internally-initiated research project. Through a continued rotation of roles, all native researchers trained collaboratively with each other and with the external researchers to conduct the experimental tasks, record results, and begin to interpret those results. This training culminated with the indigenous researchers all acting as main researchers in applying the corresponding experimental tasks with speakers of their own communities. As a result of applying a PAR approach to this project, we can observe that when native researchers take increasingly more responsibility for a project, even one that emerges external to the research group, they obtain greater directive power over the research process and the results obtained. The indigenous researcher is, thus, in a position to evaluate and adapt the research project, ultimately becoming the experts on the research design, implementation, and interpretation of the data, and consequently reappropriating the process for their own community use and benefit.
Appears in Collections: 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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