Collaborative ethnography: lessons from my time in the field

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Criticism has been levelled at coaching research for its lack of impact on the coaching process, revealing a worrying tension between scholars and practitioners. The origins of this theory-practice gap lie, at least in part, in the way coaching research has traditionally been undertaken. All too often the coach has been treated as the “other” to be studied by the coaching “scientist”, and consequently research has tended to be conducted using methods that maintain distance between researcher and participant. The present research sought to engage with the highly personal realities of situated coaching practice by holistically exploring the lifeworld of an individual coach, and to make them a more active collaborator in telling their own story. Mixed methods were deployed within an ethnographic research framework, across a season-long study of the coaching process in international rugby union. However, by becoming part of the field of study, the ethnographic researcher is involved in both the construction and the collection of “data”. Consequently, reflexive interviews were conducted to explore the ways in which the researcher and practitioner, and the research and coaching processes had shaped each other’s practice. This presentation will take a pragmatic approach by reporting, from the perspectives of scholar and practitioner, limitations and findings related to the specific methods of the research project. For example, the stimulated recall method has potential to bring to light the cognitive processes underpinning actual coaching practice, and to influence the coach’s future practice through self-confrontation and reflective practice. By both revealing and shaping the nuances of coaching practice, such methods are positioned as bridges over the research-practice gap. Moreover, it is hoped that by reporting findings generated through collaboration and reflexivity, that the coach and researcher might be re-framed as reciprocal allies in a shared field.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
EventInterweaving: connecting educational research within, across and between perspectives - Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh University
Duration: 1 Sept 2013 → …


ConferenceInterweaving: connecting educational research within, across and between perspectives
Period1/09/13 → …


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