Collaborative action research: Lessons learned from a Queensland example

Year: 1994

Author: Macpherson, Ian, Trost, Roslyn, Shepherd, Jill, Gorman, Sonya, Arcodia, Charles

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports an ongoing study of the Social Sciences at Kelvin Grove State High School within a much larger study, funded by an ARC Collaborative Research Grant over a period of three years. The focus of this larger study is Teaching for Effective Learning in Senior Schooling. This study is built around a model of collaborative action research.

The focus in this paper is not on the Social Sciences per se, but rather on the collaborative action research approach used in the study. The paper seeks to examine to what extent collaboration was, in reality, a distinctive feature of the Social Sciences study and to identify useful lessons for those engaging in collaborative forms of research.

Firstly, an overview of the Social Sciences study during 1993 and 1994 is provided. Secondly, a set of reflections (completed individually as short vignettes by the five participants) on the early months of the study is presented. A number of principles for collaborative action research form part of these reflections. These include open communication, avoidance of jargon, clarity and sense of purpose, frameworks for critical reflection, professional development and advocacy, and equity in decision-making. Thirdly, actions emanating from the early months of the study and reflections on these actions are reported.

It is from the reflections, both early and later in the study, that a number of lessons to be learned are suggested for those engaging in collaborative action research.