Section archive - Research Methods
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Ripple Effects: How Teacher Action Research on Culturally Relevant Education Can Promote Systemic Change
Teacher action research has been shown to both promote professional growth in teachers as well as produce gains for students. However, to date, little research has examined how action research might contribute to systemic changes in schools and school districts. This qualitative study of six teachers from various districts, subject areas, and grade levels, illustrates how action research can have simultaneous impacts on teachers, their students, and their schools and districts. The teacher action research projects all focused on culturally relevant education and the pursuit of equity. Impacts included teachers’ deepened understandings of equity and inclusivity; students’ diversity awareness, positive self-identities, and access to wider opportunities; and schools’ adoption of equity-focused strategies. The findings suggest that action research on culturally relevant education serves not only as a powerful form of professional development but also as a means to potentially transform schools.
Updated: May. 14, 2022
This paper reports on the background, context, design, and findings of a collaborative research project designed to develop a future roadmap for strengthening an Australian research-rich and self-improving education system. Building on the BERA-RSA Inquiry into the role of research in the teaching profession in the UK (Furlong, 2013), the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA), Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) and Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) initiated a national study across education systems and jurisdictions to identify ideas, issues, challenges and opportunities to strengthen teacher education and education policy development through research. The mixed-method study, inclusive of focus groups and an on-line survey collected data from pre-service teachers, teachers, academics and leaders across schools, universities and education departments. A set of recommendations highlight the need for research literacies to be embedded at all stages of a teachers’ career and that the profession would benefit from professional learning strategies where teachers are positioned as both critical and discerning consumers and active producers of research. The importance of teachers being able to respond to data within their own set of contextual factors was a key message.
Updated: Jan. 09, 2022
This article reports on the professional benefits of using Critical Friends Group discussion protocols within a Collaborative Action Research project facilitated by two teacher-educators with four junior secondary school teachers in New Zealand. The teachers were encouraged to conduct Action Research projects on topics of their own choice. Critical Friends Group discussions were one of the several strategies implemented to provide for collaboration in the Action Research process. The findings highlight how Critical Friends Group protocols assisted collegial discussions by supporting the professional integrity of participants as they disclosed problems and gave peer feedback aimed at elevating the effectiveness of each other’s practice. The protocols set up a safe space for the teachers to challenge assumptions and make suggestions leading to deeper thinking, pedagogically rich conversations and reflective listening. The Critical Friends Group discussions were complemented by other Action Research activities. Reviewing literature increased the pedagogical content knowledge available to the group. In-class observations supported teachers to identify professional problems for critique and pushed teachers to action ideas from Critical Friends Group discussions. The article concludes by advocating for teachers, teacher-leaders, and teacher-educators to explore using Critical Friends Group protocols because of the capacity to promote deep, collegial examination of pedagogical practices.
Updated: Jul. 15, 2021
This article describes how research-based knowledge was used in practice in an action research project which examined student dropout. The research was conducted as ‘research circles’ and involved systematic and organised cooperation between researchers and practitioners, in this case college teachers. Based on interviews with the teachers, the authors found that research-based knowledge was used in a variety of ways: as concepts for discussing real-world experiences, as confirmation of the teachers’ practical experiences, as a frame for understanding praxis, to inform action, to conduct research activities, and as a way of legitimising the importance of the practitioners’ performance in their daily work. The teachers used knowledge from previous research as well as that developed during the course of the project. However, findings indicated that research-based knowledge appeared to be more useful for talking about and understanding practice rather than guiding practical action. In order to deepen its impact on practitioners’ actions, researchers and practitioners should work together to translate research-based knowledge and theoretical concepts into practice and specify how practitioners can apply it when developing their actions. Therefore, action researchers should allocate time to the process of transforming research-based knowledge into practical actions – in co-operation with practitioners – as an integral part of their research project.
Updated: Jul. 14, 2021
“It’s worth it” practitioner research as a tool of professional learning: starting points, conclusions and benefits from the perspective of teacher students
The current study focuses on the concept PPS-PR (Personalized Professionalization in Pedagogical Fields through Practitioner Research), an approach that integrates practitioner research projects during internships. A central aim is to encourage teacher students´ professional learning (Bachelor of Primary Education). 312 Austrian teacher students carried out practitioner research projects and were invited to participate in an online survey at the end of the semester. The results show that the majority of respondents choose research topics predominantly related to the fields of methodical competences (e.g. classroom management strategies) and report consistent conclusions and long term benefits. The findings indicate that professional learning of teacher students can be supported by the PPS-PR concept. Therefore, practitioner research can be seen as a tool for developing competences that are stable and can furthermore be transferred to other situational contexts.
Updated: May. 12, 2021
Managing the delicate matter of advice giving: accomplishing communicative space in Critical Participatory Action Research
Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) requires communicative space to develop shared understandings and decisions. The authors examine the interactional accomplishment of such a space between a classroom practitioner and an academic researcher when meeting to reflect on a lesson and agree on future action to bring about change in the practitioner’s classroom practice. Conversation analysis of an audio recording of the meeting establishes how advice giving emerged and was managed as a delicate matter that required achieving shared understandings of what actually happened in the lesson, what could have happened, and what should happen in future lessons. Findings provide insights into how participants used reported and hypothetical speech to manage advice and reach agreement, produce and maintain intersubjectivity through interaction, and address epistemic asymmetry related to the differing experiences and roles that they brought to the action research study. Overall, the article contributes understandings of the ways that interactions produce communicative space in CPAR.
Updated: Feb. 04, 2021
Interconnectedness and difference between action research and a lesson design study in Shanghai, China
The professional development of teachers in China takes place, to a large extent, in Teaching Research Groups (TRG) that exist in all schools. Though there are diverse models of TRG activities, these might, on the surface, appear to resemble forms of Action Research (AR) or include elements that might resemble AR. In conducting a Lesson Design Study (LDS) with a TRG in Shanghai, the authors encountered the specific challenge of what might be the interconnectedness and differences between AR and their LDS. To address this issue, they applied a research-informed depiction of the distinguishing characteristics of AR to their LDS. Based on this analysis, they found that (1) in contrast to the depiction of AR that encompasses a choice of methods, their LDS follows a specific ‘design research’ methodology, (2) whereas the depiction of AR is simultaneously directed towards teacher self-change and restructuring the organisation or institution within which the teacher works, LDS concerns more than the practical questions in one local social context and aims to tackle bigger questions across the social contexts in the subject research field, and (3) whereas in the depiction of AR, teachers engage in a process of authentic collaboration with other teachers seeking to improve their practices, in the LDS community the external researchers and expert teachers play other roles in the TRG. Even though there may be differences between the depiction of AR and their LDS, the interconnectedness is important in that both AR and their LDS contribute directly to school-based teacher professional development.
Updated: Apr. 20, 2020
Detecting a Sustainable Mindset through Using Content Analysis of Teacher-produced Learning Journals
Having developed and piloted a professional development blended learning course for teachers of home economics with the purpose of promoting a sustainable mindset in their students, the authors used the written learning journals by the teachers during the 15-week course to detect various aspects of a sustainable mindset, which could be attributed to the course. They assumed that the learning journals of 19 participants might reveal reflections on sustainability, the pedagogy of sustainability, a positive association between sustainability and the pedagogy of sustainability, and the development of a sustainable mindset over the period of the course. The analysis confirmed that the participants reflected a great deal on learning and sustainability as the course progressed; revealing that a positive link between teaching practice and sustainability can be observed. However, the analysis also indicated some important concepts that might have been under-emphasised in the course.
Updated: Jan. 29, 2020
Contemporary Methodological Perspectives in Educational Research on ‘Teachers’ practice’: Assumptions and Shortcomings for ‘Effective Practices’
In the context of the major influence that ‘effectiveness’ is having internationally, this paper studies the contemporary methodological perspectives in educational research when considering teachers’ practice. It shows that current trends can be boiled down to: (1) naturalistic methodology, (2) descriptive methodology, and (3) the nonmethodological solution. It states two main conclusions: first, there is a neat continuity with traditional methodologies, which were in decline long ago; second, contemporary perspectives in educational research fail to provide a consistent methodological model for ‘effective practices’. The author finally draws some conclusions and makes some suggestions for the further development of methodology in educational research and teachers’ practice. This study is noteworthy for teachers’ practice, collaborations and partnerships, and also for the relationship amongst research/practice/policy, which is at the core of the implementation of educational systems.
Updated: Dec. 05, 2019
The central focus of this multilayered educational action research project was three-fold: (1) to provide opportunities for public school student leadership activities grounded in participatory and youth participatory action research; (2) to support a group of teacher-researchers in practicing and innovating in participatory action research frameworks; (3) to practice linking an educational action research project in a local region to the larger movement for democratizing education knowledge production and dissemination. Project participants included 11 teacher-researchers, a staff-developer, a consultant, a university-based faculty member, and students in K-8 schools in the Lehigh Valley region of Eastern Pennsylvania USA. To move from a traditional top-down administrative and curricular decision- making model to a distributed and more democratic model of leadership, the team argues that (1) children must be permitted to play a leading role in their own learning, leading, and researching; (2) teacher offers significant advantages over traditional in-service based professional development models; and (3) in an era of increased deskilling and deprofessionalization, teachers must have the opportunity to reclaim their profession as they conduct research, create new knowledge, and share their findings publicly.
Updated: Dec. 03, 2019