Methodology


Awareness is the key word for managing this kind of matter and improving effectiveness of actions performed by organisations.

This project arises with a co-operative approach in the management and development of activities, it comes from the constructivist point of view, where knowledge is a social activity built from a community in its interaction. This is why both organizations staff and learners will be involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of project activities.

SU-TRA is aimed at recognizing supporting methodologies and exchange good practices among operators in order to improve effectiveness of their actions.

Often operators improve their skills by experiences: they need time and space to assess their skills for becoming more and more aware of them, refining them acquiring awareness of what they need to improve.

Further more sometimes operators don’t play managerial role and sometimes is very difficult to share know how from a person to another, because someone is not aware of his/her knowledge learned by experiences. Moreover in small organisations there is little time to carry out team building activities because often people play different roles in the same time.

Moreover, every organisation has its own life, its own rules and its own roles. Members of group share knowledge for belonging to its. Often "declared rules and knowledge" don't fit perfectly with true and not-said rules that are used.

Awareness is the key word for managing this kinds of matter and improving effectiveness of actions performed by operators.

Otherwise, awareness and peer to peer support/comparison is an important mean in order to overcame stress (and prevent workers burnout syndrome) of social work plaid with suffering people. In order to improve management of our adult education organisations, we need to share good practices, methodologies, approaches, tools, for stress management. In fact stressing situations and possible related burn-out syndrome can hardly affect effectiveness and efficacy of social interventions and wellbeing of social workers.

This project will provide time and space for a peer to peer exchange about tool for identifying operators needs by self-assessment, for deep analysis of the situation.

The project is aimed at improving the knowledge processes management in small organisations dealing with social inclusion and entering in labour market of adults with mental and/or cognitive difficulties.

Briefly, we intend:

  • improve management of our adult education organisations facing the stress of social work plaid with suffering people and preventing workers burnout syndrome;
  • exchanging methodologies and tools used in preventing and managing workers burnout syndrome within organisations aimed at social inclusion and entering in labour market of adults with mental and/or cognitive difficulties;
  • enhancing efficacy and effectiveness of daily practices performed by partners organisations through peer to peer exchange of trainers and social workers in the field of social inclusion and entering in labour market of adults with mental and/or cognitive difficulties.

The research-action

The community of practice


The research-action

The starting point for this methodology is that the community is at the same time the subject and the object of knowledge and change, since nobody has a better knowledge of themselves and of the topics it is faced with than the target group.

The action research involves directly subject in the research process. For its inner nature, it is open to unforeseeable events, failure, and re-designing by a continuous assessment of research objectives. This is why it is a chance of reflection and analysis: from it new problems/issues and innovative chances of problem solutions arise.

By its specific tools and methodology, the action research gives value to existential experience of people involved and this why it is very useful for promoting processes of inclusion and active participation of disadvantaged people.

In the action research perspective, the subjects involved take on the role of researchers just as the experts – educators and/or animators of the community – to whom they can look. This way, the group can raise and express needs, expectations, special interests, without pre-determining a specific, specialised path a priori. A group adopting this methodology analyses, knows, becomes aware of and modifies or gets ready to modify a certain situation. The animator of the community has the task to help subjects express their own conditions, needs, implicit knowledge and turn it into a shared wealth.

In practice:

A action Research is intentionally designed in order to modify the field of research during and by the same research. In relation to an experimental research “research aimed at knowing” we may consider the AR as a “research aimed to acting”. It focuses on problem resolution conceived both events explanation and designing of interventions in the specific contexts.

A AR is designed and carried out in shared way, with active participation of experts and people belonging to the community involved in the research issue. Diagnosis, modifications and study of long terms strategies of intervention are carried out simultaneously. It means that the group in the same moment applies the AR methodology, analyses, learns, becomes aware and change a situation.

The technician is not the knowledge master; he/she is a resource available for the community. This indicate the overcoming of supposed neutrality of researcher and of research. He/she becomes aware of the role he/she plays in the transformation socio-educative.

The community is in the same time subject and object of knowledge and social transformation.

This activity results in the construction of a common knowledge shared by the participants in the community and in their self-training through a constant and aware exchange.

This methodology expresses all its potential when it is based on ICT, which improve and strengthen the methodology of action research.

The telematic setting can, in fact, transform the actor-researcher into a sort of collective researcher. Actors-experimenters can act in accordance with one another, taking into account the experience of their remote partners, moving forward at the same pace or diversifying their actions as required, in order to bring out a systematic range of behaviour types. The Net enables people with different roles (facilitators, advisors, experts, end users, etc.) to interact with the actors-researchers remotely in the course of the project. Actors-researchers can themselves feel more motivated by feeling part of an enlarged research and learning community contributing to their work (A. Calvani, 1998b).

In particular, Internet is the privileged tool to:

  • attract and select resources since the start-up phase (e.g. through telematic discussion forums) and to provide early contacts and negotiation opportunities with the different actors in the sector;
  • facilitate the management of the process, thanks to the suggestions from different participants and simple observers in the course of the process;
  • expand individual potential: individual choices are commented and analysed by the others;
  • strengthen intersubjectivity, thanks to a comparison of several actors-researchers and to the fact that data and reports can be the object of triangulations and collective work (which would otherwise be difficult to do) for a better evaluation of problems and possible solutions;
  • get an overview of the contextual conditions and the determining actors, and use the initial analyses as a logical framework within which to search for approaches, techniques and methods aimed at constantly improving the quality of implemented practices.


The community of practice

What is a virtual community of practice:

A community of practice is a complex open system which originates from the interaction of all its members: no-one must be considered more important or determining than the others in quality terms; the value of everybody’s contribution is strengthened by debate, so the strength of the group lays in the possibility for its various members to interact. This way a cooperative and collaborative interaction can be carried out by individuals who have the same role and responsibilities towards themselves and the others, apart from their usual social and/or professional role. The overall aim is to set up a collaborative/open research/learning process which becomes self-sufficient over time in a perspective of constant self-training and updating.

How it works:

Its technological core is an electronic platform enabling both synchronous and asynchronous communication between its members. Several tools are available to its members, such as forum, chat, collective writing tools, rss connections, mailing list, repository for the documents that the members wish to share with the others, notice board for quick information exchange and to post requests, space for request of cooperation, collaboration, etc. It can offer specific – even tailored – consultancy and useful information for the entire community (e.g. funds, deadlines, calls for tenders, new laws, etc.) information on local events in the sector etc., and much more.

Its strong point is the process needed for its management: some animators of the community should also act as communication facilitators, helping everybody be in touch with everybody, stimulating debate to highlight each and everyone’s competences and favour their mutual recognition; they should have a sound knowledge of the topics discussed by the community and have an interest in them as well; they should have experience in using the tools made available through the platform; they should be able to support members at the beginning of their participation, in order to help them overcome the “cold” impact which is typical whenever communication and cooperation in virtual environments start; they should also make sure no disturbing elements enter the community (e.g. people with racist approaches, or showing no or little respect for the other members or the rules of the community, etc.) and – should this happen – expel them, and much more.

Very importantly, the members of the community should, from time to time, meet in person to strengthen bonds and prevent the Net to take the place of the reality of actual relationships. The Net should never become all-absorbing: it is an aid, an amplifier of interpersonal connections. At the basis of the process remain concrete actions of actors-researchers: if the data are collected improperly or are communicated in an ambiguous or distorted way, there is the risk to build on sand. This way, while it is possible to save resources thanks to telematic communication, it is also advisable to reinforce face-to-face relationships and triangulations in real contexts.

Standard results:

  • mutual recognition of competences acquired on the field
  • members’ self-empowerment
  • lifelong self-training
  • quick access to interesting information
  • consolidation of existing territorial networks
  • establishment and strengthening of new territorial networks
  • shared reflection on implemented theoretical and operational actions
  • exchange of good practices
  • more instruments to interpret the reference social and territorial context and to observe the impact of policies and social actions
  • development of new initiatives and of integrated projects.