Interating Research with Conference Learning: 10 Years of Q Methodology Studies Exploring Experiential Learning in the Tavistock Tradition

Robert Lipgar, John Bair, Christopher Fichtner

Abstract


Empirical assessment and self-study procedures were implemented during a series of nonresidential weekend group relations conferences in the Tavistock tradition and were used to augment conference learning for staff and members. These studies were organized and conducted so that focus on the conference’s primary task was maintained. Findings of several studies of leadership, learning styles, and the role of the consultant are discussed. Administrative and methodological problems encountered in integrating research with conference learning are also reviewed. Because of the Tavistock model’s distinctive emphasis on subjectivity and on learning through direct experience of covert and often primitive processes, a research methodology compatible with experiential learning was sought. Q methodology made it possible to obtain quantifiable, objective, in-depth information about values, attitudes, and dispositions characteristic of individuals and of individuals and groups in interrelationship. The Q studies were carried out over a 10-year period as an integral part of conference work. Learning based on firsthand observations and experience was combined with feedback based on systematic empirical research. The staff reviewed research findings in post-conference sessions to promote their development and competency. Conducting research in the context of group relations conferences provides experience in dealing with conflicting attitudes toward relying on knowledge based on personal experience, empirical data, or theory for decision-making. The results of this study have implications for conducting self-study and assessment outcome evaluations in other institutions and organizational settings.

Keywords


Tavistock model;Q methodology;leadership;learning stiles;role of the consultant

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References


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