Otago Polytechnic
CORP staff MargaretMcKenzie 015

Drawing from experience

New research from Margaret McKenzie from School of Social Services on how to use already existing knowledge to produce new staff research.

Margaret McKenzie

When tasked with the role of motivating her School of Social Services colleagues to create research papers, Margaret McKenzie used the appreciative enquiry strategy to develop a research culture and capacity. She encouraged her colleagues to draw from their already existing experiences. She then documented this process as a working template.

 “In response to the research imperative, I worked with my colleagues to identify existing areas of strength that they could draw from,” she says.

“Appreciative inquiry can be a matter of exploiting what already exists. Through conscious reflection and valuing everyday tasks and achievements, my colleagues began to reframe their thoughts about possible research papers that they could present.”

Some examples of the papers that emerged include one that focused on the retention of Māori students within the School of Social Services. This material was drawn from already existing statistics, reports and in-house knowledge through fulfilling compliance requirements.

Two other colleagues collaborated and wrote individual papers focusing on current counselling theory, in answer to the question: What are you teaching and why?

Another paper was created by a staff member who had co-written a reflective journal while her sister was dying.

“In this instance the material already existed.  It just needed to be acknowledged as the valuable resource that it was,” she says.

With encouragement, this staff member published their journal as an e-book. She was awarded a travelling scholarship, and presented her paper to a very receptive audience at an international conference. 


McKenzie, M (2013) Appreciative Inquiry Capacity Building with Colleagues Margaret McKenzie AASWWE Symposium Imagining Futures for Social Work Education and Research 3-4 October 2013, Curtain University, Perth WA