During the first day of the Conference in Vienna, Bo Klindt Poulsen, from the University in Denmark, held a workshop Career guidance research cycle: expansion of options for students and teachers and presented the Research Cycle Method through an example from practice. He presented the research cycle as a useful method for changing of practice, the method of issue resolving, particularly in terms of social justice in career guidance.
What is a research cycle?
The research cycle is the method designed and made popular in Sweden. It is a study cycle that includes the collaboration of practitioners in a certain field, in which one or more academic researchers participate as well. This method ideally includes 5 to 8 participants. The cooperation of researches and creation of knowledge simultaneously take place during the process. The research cycle is an excellent space for reflection and action. The researcher focuses on challenges from practice and the effect on the target group when the conclusions reached during the cycle are applied.
The research cycle is like the action research. The action research is the research in which the researcher is also the participant in the research (like the people making the research sample), and its purpose is to solve the actual task in practice, and not verify a hypothesis. Phases of researches change and so does the practice, in accordance with the newly discovered information or changes that take place. The benefit of these researches and their common feature is that learning takes place through every phase and that it is possible to create changes immediately. As this is the cyclic process, the reality can change and be reviewed over and over again.
Why is the research cycle appropriate for the youth career guidance and counselling practice?
The research cycle makes the connection between a researcher and a practitioner, the connection that is necessary for the good functioning of a system. Although the connection seems logical at first, the continuous collaboration between researchers and practitioners, beyond proving or refuting a hypothesis or resolving an existing issue, is rare. Cyclicity includes renewal of that connection over and over again. Career guidance includes working with people, learning, informing, and resolving of important life questions, particularly when youth are the target group, such as in my line of work. Career counselling thus represents a living organism that changes constantly, and that cannot be predicted in the long-term and with certainty. That is why the research cycle could be a significant method for changing and improving the youth career guidance and counselling practice. The best way to develop is to learn through work and mutual contacts of researchers and practitioners.
Career guidance in Serbia is not compulsory for youth, and it is not systemically introduced in formal education, in spite of long-term efforts. However, there are examples of NGOs and certain school tending to provide equal opportunities to all young people, at least through enabling access to information they need to make decisions important for their careers. The research cycle can be a significant potential or an ally for career counsellors in schools and organizations. The precondition for that is the cooperation between practitioners and researchers. I believe that there might be a challenge to keep the motivation of all the participants in a research during the whole process, regarding the frequently decreased resources available to us as a country. I think that this method is one of the best examples I’ve heard of for the enthusiasts who love their jobs and believe in their ideas, and I believe it represents an excellent area for the creation of knowledge and new ideas, as the power of the research cycle lies in people and everything they share.