Supporting action research/learning in schools through academic partnerships

Year: 2006

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

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper details a study tracking three academics as they worked as partners to 11 schools undertaking the NSW Quality Teaching Action Learning (QTAL) program through a school based action research/learning approach aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning. Action research/learning is a popular strategy used by teachers and schools to develop insights and understandings to make their work more professional and improve their teaching. It has the potential to empower teachers and lead to changes in teaching practice and school reform (Ewing, 2004). Throughout the project the academic partners conducted their own action research study as a means of recording this process from both their and the teachers' perspective with the aim of analysing the impact of their role on the evolution, progress and outcomes of the projects. This paper uses data collected from a questionnaire which was administered to teachers pre and post projects and personal reflective journals completed by the three academic partners throughout the duration of the projects. Results indicated the outcomes for the academics were collaborative skills, self efficacy and a sense of achievement through the relationships and research skills developed in the school-based settings and with colleagues. The schools cited specialist knowledge, strategies and resources together with the leadership provided by the academic partners as vital to the success of the school projects and professional development achieved. Limitations encountered will also be discussed.