English Teaching: Practice and Critique

River literacies: Researching in contradictory spaces of cross-disciplinarity and normativity

Volume 6 Number 3 December 2007

Helen Nixon (University of South Australia)

Barbara Comber (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

Phil Cormack (Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South)

The educational research and policy scene in Australia over the past decade has featured a number of contradictory developments. National policy has sponsored more interdisciplinary and applied research, while moving down a Research Quality Framework pathway which prioritises measurable quality and impact measures. At the same time, recent international and national policies in literacy education have been dominated by a psychological (rather than socio-cultural) view of literacy, wrapped within a discourse that valorises “evidence-based” practice. As literacy researchers coming from an ethnographic, collaborative and critical tradition, we have had to be strategic to secure funding to continue our research agenda in innovative, ethical and scholarly ways. This paper uses the case of a recent research project to explore some of the ways in which our approaches have been contradictorily positioned within this policy context.