Building competence and bridges: the potential of action research in translator education

; ; (). Building competence and bridges: the potential of action research in translator education. In: 4th International Conference on Teaching Translation and Interpreting. Conference Paper. (28-29 November 2014). Lodz: University of Łódź.

For more than a decade, action research has been explicitly advocated as a practical and practicable tool in translation studies in general (e.g. Hatim 2001; Cravo and Neves 2007) as well as in specialised subdomains such as audiovisual translation (e.g. Neves 2005, Bogucki 2013). Over the same period, it has been used to research translator education (e.g. Kiraly 2000; Hubscher-Davidson 2008), with qualitative case studies widely regarded as “a viable tool for increasing our understanding of the processes involved in the development of translator competence” (Kiraly 2013: 222). Combining action and reflection, theory and practice, action research represents a participative, practically oriented approach directly involving not only the researchers themselves but also other stakeholders (Reason and Bradbury 2006: 1; Cravo and Neves 2007: 97), which in the various contexts of translator education includes teachers, students, professionals and/or clients. Its methods therefore appear especially suited to examining the effects both of process-oriented translation diagnostics and didactics focussed on the cognitive act of translation (cf. Massey and Ehrensberger-Dow 2013) and of the co-emergent situated learning environments provided by authentic project-based translation assignments (cf. Kiraly 2012: 87). For a number of years, our institute has been promoting and supporting a range of small-scale pedagogical action research projects in order to bridge what staff and students have come to regard as an undesirable, unnecessary divide between research and practice. In this paper, we consider the viability of action research as a means of pedagogical investigation, curricular optimisation, student training and organisational development in translator education. After briefly introducing the general context of our teaching and research initiatives, we present the design and results of some recent action research projects aimed at investigating feedback and learning effects in process-oriented and collaborative learning scenarios. Following a discussion of how the findings can help us improve our curricula, refine our teaching and develop our research agenda and methods, we consider the potential of action research as an approach to student training and staff development in its own right.

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