Waikato Journal of Education
Anniversary journal cover

How to Cite

Fraser, D. (2015). Tension and challenge in collaborative school-university research. Waikato Journal of Education, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.15663/wje.v20i3.240


Collaborative university and school research projects are inevitably labour intensive endeavours that require the careful negotiation of trust and the joint critique of current practice. While this raises tension it can also build generative communities of inquiry that enhance both theory and practice.

This article refers to an arts project undertaken in eight primary schools between university staff and generalist teacher co-researchers, focusing on children's idea development in dance, drama, music and visual art. The two-year project is briefly outlined and some issues that arise in school research are explored. There were issues related to insider-outsider tensions, the familiarity all project members have with classrooms, and the associated difficulties with reconceptualising how things might be done. While there are many strengths in collaborative research, there are also tensions. Some of the tensions outlined in this paper include: the need to exercise healthy scepticism alongside interest in the arts; the different cultures of schools and universities and how these influence research; and issues of risk and trust, which are both sensitive areas of ongoing negotiation. These issues and paradoxes in collaborative research are considered alongside particular processes that build school and university partnerships.

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