An Invitation to the Dance: The Importance of Practitioners Undertaking Research in Adult and Continuing Education

Gordon Thompson


Is research a necessary, or even a desirable, activity for adult and continuing education practitioners? Why, on top of all of the other roles and expectations, such as generating sufficient revenue, would practitioners choose to add research to their long list of other responsibilities--especially when it doesn't seem important to many of their colleagues or to their deans/directors? This paper explores these questions with the objective of convincing at least some of the practitioners who read this article that they should be engaged in research activities. Indeed, in some cases, it is likely that readers who think that they don't do research will be persuaded that they are presently engaged in forms of research!

The paper begins with a review of the literature in an effort to assess the level of research activity presently undertaken by practitioners. Next, a variety of perspectives about what is meant by the term "research" is explored. In the following section, barriers to practitioners doing research are considered, and, finally, the arguments for practitioners doing research are examined.

While this paper is aimed at adult and continuing education practitioners in general, it has been written with a particular focus upon the membership of CAUCE.

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