The Practitioner-Researcher: Developing Theory from Practice Essay Sample

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The purpose of Peter Jarvis’ book “The Practitioner-Researcher:  Developing Theory from Practice” is twofold.  First, it seeks to highlight and examine the role of the practitioner-researcher and second, it attempts to understand more clearly the relationship among practice, practical knowledge, and theory.  To achieve the purpose of the book, Jarvis dwells on five topics as follows:  Understanding Connections Between Research and Practice; The Nature of Practice; Research in Practice; Practice and Theory; and Reflections on the Practitioner-Researcher.

In his book, Jarvis pinpoint and recognize developments that have changed research from the nearly exclusive field of scientists and academics into the hands of those people who are expected to employ the theory into practice. According to Jarvis, “the idea that theory should be applied to practice is increasingly being recognized as an oversimplification, at the least, and at the most, as false” (p.3). Jarvis deduces that partly, this is due to the fact that practitioners are carrying out their own research, although it might not be acknowledged per se by the researchers; new knowledge is being rooted in practical outcomes instead of logical derivations and empirical tests; decision makers are looking for more answers; the disconnects between theory and realities are exceedingly evident; and the answers are requiring more practical and instant research. These ideas can be used in my research projects because provided me with the insight that when carrying out research, knowledge should be founded on practical results rather than logical sources and empirical tests.  Moreover, I have also learned to be able to answer problems, the research should be instant and more practical.

I have likewise gained the knowledge that the practitioner-researcher is obviously not a fleeting or temporary phenomenon and, given that the practitioner-researcher is both researcher and practitioner simultaneously, the practitioner-researcher model might well symbolize the ideal professional hybrid for modern society. As maintained by Jarvis, the practitioner’s knowledge emanates either from the profession’s properly established body of knowledge, or from the curriculum made by colleges or schools to teach and coach new entrants to the line of work. In both instances, the practical knowledge on which the theory is derived is historical although the practice, which it is intended to support, is present and future. Given the fact that institutional research (IR) has no curriculum and not much of a properly recognized or researched knowledge base, one could speculate how it is that IR manages in addition to it being able to build up new professionals, assist the IR practitioners, and still offer assistance to higher education and institutions. I think that it may possibly be harmless to presume that IR networking (as well as conferences, forums, workshops, and institutes) has granted the practical knowledge mandatory of the practitioner.  I have learned from this book that when doing research, I have to devote most of my effort to improve my knowledge, and equally important is that I have to exert more effort at research to be able to improve practice.

Meanwhile, Jarvis’ discussion concerning the nature of practical knowledge in chapter 4 of the book and on being a practitioner as discussed in chapter 5 and chapter 6 gave me the idea that practical knowledge must be thoroughly taken into account by all individuals who are seeking and offering IR professional development prospects.

In talking about practical knowledge, Jarvis said that instead of differentiating knowledge from skills since we do not execute skills instinctively, he wants to merge them and to regard the merger as practical knowledge.  Jarvis added that this personal, practical knowledge has six dimensions which interrelate with each other in an integrated manner when we act in any method: process knowledge – knowledge about the ‘how’; content knowledge – theoretical (in some cases) and prepositional knowledge; skills: beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and values; everyday knowledge – the experience which we bring to the learning/action condition, which includes one’s understanding acquired by way of the senses like taste and smell; tacit knowledge – that which enables a person to perform without clear thought and to assume upon situations for whatever basis. Moreover, by reading the book, I was also enlightened that the reason why institutional research has attained success and recognition in the academy was because of fact that IR practitioners are researchers as well.

In his book, Jarvis said that learning is the process of creating and transforming experiences into knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, beliefs, and the senses.  In my opinion, this definition implies that learning originates from experience.  Thus, when doing my research, I can’t help but to ask myself if my research could be an appropriate venue for learning.  What knowledge and experiences could I or other people obtain from my research?  Through ,y research, what experience can I impart to other people who will read the result of my research? I have realized that if my research could be an instrument for learning and experiences, are the readers of my research compelled to build and transorm. Another question is that if the classroom is a place for experiences, then are the learners obliged to create and change those learnings and experiences to become their useable product? This means that if I come up with my research and make it a venue for the people to learn, then the task of these people would be to convert that learning to become a skill that they could probably utilize for their own purposes and reasons.

In his book, Jarvis differentiated between knowledge and information.  Nevertheless, Jarvis hopes to imply that there are four kinds of knowledge critical to our thinking: information (data/objective knowledge handed on to other people); data (gathered during research); wisdom (knowledge acquired by way of a great deal of experience – both practical and reflective); and knowledge (information that is learned and accepted by people).

Furthermore, Jarvis also said in his book that knowledge has been divided into its academic disciplines and people have been used to both teach and learn individual disciplines and sub-disciplines. Nevertheless, when we act in nearly any capacity in our daily life we do not separate our practical knowledge into a little bit of sociology, a little bit of philosophy, and so on since we presume it to be completely integrated. Because of this idea in the book, I have learned that it is essential to differentiate between multi-disciplinary knowledge and integrated knowledge; the former is concerning the exploration of an occurrence or fact from more than one viewpoint while integrated knowledge does not separate knowledge into disciplines – this means that for instance, nursing knowledge, educational knowledge, and so on, are considered as integrated practical knowledge.  Jarvis stresses that this does not signify that disciplinary knowledge is of no value – Jarvis said that we still need it with the intention of analyzing and interpreting phenomena.  Furthermore, Jarvis said that both practical knowledge and knowledge about the academic disciplines are significant to the professional practitioner and to our comprehension and recognition of the character of knowledge and the knowledge society.

I think that this book has successfully managed to link the worlds to theory and professional practice in a manner that will assist each better understand each other.  Personally, this book will help me make my research a tool in improving my practice.  This book gave me a better understanding of the relationship between practice and theory both within the worlds of work and learning.  Lastly, I believe that the fundamental framework for the author’s practitioner-researcher is the realization that theory could and must come from practice.  Definitely, there is much in this book that can be utilized to establish, assess and imitate in the development of IR from IR practice. #


Jarvis, P.  (1999).  The Practitioner-Researcher:  Developing Theory from Practice.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Publishers.

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