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Evaluation report:
Research Approaches to Revealing Tacit Knowledge

London, Tuesday 25 May 2004
Facilitators: - Michael Eraut (Project LiNEA), Stephen Steadman (Project LiNEA), Chris Fessey (former ESRC research fellow at Sussex)


This workshop was included in the RCBN programme of events at the request of Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) researchers who wanted support in eliciting the tacit knowledge of research participants. The workshop was developed by facilitators Prof Michael Eraut and Stephen Steadman for whom revealing tacit knowledge was an important feature of their work in the Early Career Learning at Work: LINEA TLRP project. The workshop proved to be a very popular addition to the programme with an additional 27 people registered on a waiting list additional to the 18 registered for the event. The workshop began with Michael Eraut providing an introduction to some of the theoretical issues on the nature of tacit knowledge and implicit learning. Prof Eraut suggested that a theoretical background was necessary to be sensitised to what was being observed in research settings, supporting the notion of a theoretically robust methodology.

The day proceeded with presentations from the research practice of Project LINEA by Stephen Steadman and the doctoral research work of Dr Christine Fessey, and also included a significant proportion of practical workshop activities. Several participants noted that they particularly enjoyed the balance between practical activity and presentation, which was in keeping with several comments made in personal objectives before the event that the workshop format had been attractive when registering for the event. One person commented that the group work activities were a little hit-or-miss in the connection with tacit knowledge, although generally the content of the workshop was very well received. The facilitators were well regarded as evident in both the responses to the evaluative scales and comments made by participants. Particular benefits of the event to the participants appear to be how it raised awareness of possible data collection methods for revealing tacit knowledge, as well as locating these within a context of potential difficulties or tensions. For example, one person claimed that the day had raised their awareness of the significance of insider/outsider positions and knowledges in the research process. The specific examples of implementation and analysis were another feature identified as valuable, although for some people this specificity made it more challenging to relate the issues to their own research. For example, one person whose research interests are located in classroom and school settings found the nursing examples difficult to apply. This issue may be worth consideration for future programme development given that “relating the ideas presented to own research practice” was one of the two most frequent objectives for participating in the event.

The other most common objective was to enhance networks of colleagues who share an interest in this area. There were a couple of comments that indicated that this had been one of the principal benefits in attending the workshop. While many other participants claimed that their objectives for participating in the event was to increase understanding or skills, there were two post-workshop comments that suggested a significant benefit of the event was that it confirmed what they already knew.

The organisation of the event was reasonably well received, although one person did experience difficulty with pre-course administration. The venue was acceptable, although there was one comment that the room was not well ventilated or lit.

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This page was last updated 26th April 2004