University/school partnerships: Journeys of three academic partners

Year: 2005

Author: Reynolds, Ruth, McCormack, Ann, Patrick, Kate Ferguson

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper details a study which tracked three academics as they worked as partners to schools undertaking Australian Government Quality Teacher projects with the focus of implementing the NSW Quality Teaching framework through an action research/learning approach. The academic partner, as a mentor, is expected to support a collegial environment where teachers reflect for, on and in action and work and learn with and from each other to explore possible ideas and solutions to issues associated with their teaching practice. However the academic partner often comes into the partnership as a stranger and has to build a professional and individual relationship in a short period of time. The academic partners in this study conducted their own action research study as a means of recording their journeys as mentors, to provide each other with collegial support and to promote the development of their own professional knowledge. They used personal reflection in the form of learning journals, collaboration, discussion and critique as the methodology in their study. This paper uses the data collected to identify and examine common themes in the technical, critically professional and personal growth aspects of this project and to provide suggestions to guide academic partners in future university/school action research partnerships. Issues that emerged included:

The role of a leader in such joint projects
What is academic credibility?
Catering for individual capabilities
Who owns the project?
The nature of professional development for academics
The importance of good communication
The establishment of professional and personal self esteem