Considering the benefits of research participation: insights from a study of adult EAL educators




research participation, teacher-researcher relationships, professional learning, EAL, adult education, digital literacies


Despite the professional learning benefits that may be realised through participation in research, many institutions and teachers are reluctant to get involved. They (correctly) anticipate that it will require some time, effort, and commitment. They may understand that research is important for improving education practices but more direct and immediate value for them and, importantly, how to gain it may not be obvious. To address this issue, we report a part of a six-month study that used institutional ethnography as the method of inquiry. We present and analyse three generative episodes that we observed and experienced in the context of our research collaboration with the participants at one adult community-based English as an Additional Language (EAL) institution in Melbourne (Australia). These episodes provide important insights into the ways in which our participants were proactive in realising the benefits of participating in the research. The participating teachers brought research and practice into regular dialogue and strategically utilised our partnership for their professional learning. We conclude by discussing some practical strategies for EAL institutions, teachers, and researchers who want to unlock and maximise the learning potential of research partnerships.


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Author Biographies

  • Ekaterina Tour, Monash University, Australia

    Dr Ekaterina Tour, is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Her current research projects investigate how people use digital technologies in EAL and engage in new literacies in everyday life, work, and learning. Ekaterina is an author of a number of publications in the field of digital media, literacy and TESOL. She is also an author of Digital Literacies: EAL Teachers’ Guide (www.

  • Edwin Creely, Monash University, Australia

    Dr Edwin (Ed) Creely is an educator, academic, and writer with an interest in creativity, poetry, literacy (L1 and L2), theory and philosophy, digital pedagogy, and learning. He has extensive experience in education. Ed’s research work focuses on innovation and creative practices and bringing new models and perspectives to educational research. Ed has published in a range of journals and is a regular contributor to research and practice in literacy.

  • Peter Waterhouse, Monash University, Australia

    Dr Peter Waterhouse is an adult educator and practitioner- researcher with an extensive background in adult literacy education and adult learning across a diverse range of contexts, from community to institutional and workplace settings. Peter has a continuing interest in issues of lifelong learning and the ways research, policy and practice can enhance equity and opportunity, particularly for those disadvantaged by life’s vagaries and circumstances.


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How to Cite

Considering the benefits of research participation: insights from a study of adult EAL educators. (2020). TESOL in Context, 29(2), 63-84.
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