Supporting teachers as action researchers

Year: 2009

Author: Blake, Damian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers' professional learning has a critical influence on students' learning outcomes and much attention has been paid to understanding how effective ongoing professional learning for teachers can be achieved in schools. This paper reports on research exploring how processes of action research can be combined with support for teachers becoming active participants in wider communities of professional practice. The research approach draws on previous studies highlighting action research as an effective strategy for promoting teachers' ongoing professional learning. However, the researchers consider that such benefits may be further enhanced by encouraging teachers to systematically document, publish and present their action research initiatives so they can be shared in a wider community of professional practice. In this study the researchers supported small teams teachers from 22 primary schools in their development of school-based action research projects. The projects were aligned with regional improvement priorities and broadly covered the areas of improving assessment, developing students' thinking skills and the use of information and communication technology. The teams of teachers collaborated with the researchers, regional curriculum leaders and other teachers in their region to develop and refine their initial action research questions and strategies. The teams the met locally and as a regional group several times throughout one year to present their progressive findings as they carried out their action research projects, and to reflect on what they were learning as a larger community of professionals. Teachers were encouraged to document their action research projects throughout the year which were then compiled into a book to be shared with other teachers in the region. All of the teams presented their findings to other colleagues at a final regional symposium. At the conclusion of the year the teachers were invited to participate in a survey investigating the potential for this approach to improve their experiences of ongoing professional learning. Teachers were also interviewed to explore changes in the ways they were framing the concept of their own professional learning.

This paper will be presented as part of Symposium 43, WEL091532 Models of professional learning: A comparative study.

Key Phrase: Teacher Education and Professional Development of Teachers