Presentation on theme: "Action Research: creating knowledge about education Professor Colleen McLaughlin, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education + University of Sussex Centres."— Presentation transcript:
Action Research: creating knowledge about education Professor Colleen McLaughlin, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education + University of Sussex Centres of Excellence presentation
Areas to be covered Welcome + research in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education The challenge of developing practice Why teacher and action research? The idea of the teacher as researcher What is action research? Researching action Further resources
Key idea Research which produces nothing but a book will not suffice (Kurt Lewin, 1946:35)
Welcome + research in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education Long tradition of using the work of Lawrence Stenhouse and others. Donald McIntyre Jean Rudduck – work on pupil voice Teachers engaging in research as central to teacher learning and practice development In partnership with individual teachers, schools and local education authorities All courses have this as a central element
The challenge of developing practice You cannot develop practice without the commitment of teachers Most policy makers try to be teacher proof’ ‘ i.e. to get around teachers Teachers control learning in the classroom Teachers are highly resilient + even in the face of change Importance of own beliefs, values and histories Classrooms are very complex places Learning is a very complex process Teachers’ learning is a relatively ‘new’ idea
Why teacher + action research? It is teachers who in the end will change the world of the school by understanding it (Stenhouse 1981:104) We understand classrooms, learning + teaching by trying to change them Insider research Harnessing the knowledge of the teacher and the pupils Strengthens teacher learning and school development
The idea of the teacher as researcher – Lawrence Stenhouse Research is systematic enquiry made public The commitment to systematic questioning of one’s own teaching as a basis for development The commitment and the skills to study one’s own teaching and The concern to question and to test theory in practice.’ (Stenhouse 1975:143)
What is action research? A systematic enquiry into practice in a school or classroom setting with the aim of improving or understanding practice or informing decision making Planning Acting Reflectin g Observing/ Evaluating The Action Research Spiral
What teachers say We no longer felt like research fodder, but professionals in control of our own improvement, having a voice in local and national decisions. The research had moved in to our own back gardens – our classrooms It has made me focus much more on the diversity of learners. It has heightened my awareness of the range of learners. I’m more responsive to their needs. I now look more clinically at what I am going to be doing with them, offering opportunities for the students to perhaps question a bit more and I am trying in my own turn to perhaps listen to those questions rather than expecting things to happen by divine right....
Researching action Sounds simple. Hardest part at the beginning. Process What do I want to know? Why? How will I find out? Will it be good enough information? What will I do with it? Have I talked to someone else about it? How can I get feedback? From whom? How will I share it?
The process What do I want to know? Define the question or problem. Why? Is it a worthwhile question? How will I find out? Are my methods realistic and manageable? Will it be good enough information? What will I do with it? Have I talked to someone else about it? How can I get feedback? From whom? Can work with pupils, parents, other teachers or an outside knowledgeable person. How will I share it? Write a short report, Give a seminar in school, make a poster, make a u tube video What action shall I take as a result of this? What shall I do then? How will I know the action is achieving what I want?
Helpful conditions for action research Commitment and support from the school and the school leaders To the topic To acting on the information Collaboration – a partner or a small group A process to share what you find out Small steps and small questions Support from someone who knows about action research
An example: Pupils’ engagement in learning Research question. What do teachers understand by engagement? What do pupils understand by engagement? What shapes their understanding? Where does their understanding come from? What does engagement look like? What happens when you look at engagement in action? Research design Focus group of teachers and students (separate) ‘I know my students (or I) am engaged when’ Video of a lesson watched by teacher and pupils to exemplify engagement and non engagement
Some findings Teachers and students saw engagement differently Teachers emphasised obedience There were different lenses and mindsets in schools and between schools and teachers Relationships were very important Teachers started to listen to teachers from other departments!
Some actions Teachers used more of what the students said was helping them to engage Strategies were shared across departments Some teachers got regular feedback on their lessons afterwards It was shared across the network and the schools
Further resources U tube videos Online resources + freely available pdfs. Dadds, M. Perspectives on practitioner research. Available from National College of School Leadership, UK Teachernet site CUREE. Books McLaughlin, C., Black-Hawkins, K., and McIntyre, D. (2007) Networking Practitioner Research. London: Routledge. McLaughlin, C., Black-Hawkins, K., Brindley, S., McIntyre, D. and Taber, K. (2006) Researching Schools: Stories from a Schools–University Partnership for Educational Research. London: Routledge. Wilson, E. (2009). School-based Research: A Guide for Education Students. London: Sage