Research circles - enabling changes in site based educational development

Year: 2012

Author: Ronnerman, Karin, Olin, Anette

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



The site in this paper is a meeting - described as a 'research circle' - where teachers and researchers work together towards deepening their knowledge about a particular aspect of their professional practice; that is, they strive towards praxis change. The teachers had previously participated in a yearlong action research program in which they conducted a case study facilitated by the researchers. After completing the program many of the teachers took up positions of facilitating the learning of colleagues in their own school. This episode became the impetus for implementing changed practices in their own circumstances (by facilitating the learning of colleagues).

The purpose of the 'research circle' is to study the connectivity between professional experiences, practice development and research. Furthermore, it aims to present how particular understandings are transferred from one site to the other for both teachers and researchers. It aims to describe what this form of meeting means for understanding and acting in site-based educational development.


The study draws on audio taped sessions, field notes and written tasks or artefacts from two research circles. These research circles consist of ten teachers and one researcher who meet in their group for four hours five times during a year. The teachers and the researcher for each circle jointly negotiate the themes for subsequent meetings based on issues relating to research and professional practice. For each session the researcher selects an article relevant for the topic and the teachers present a specific task or work product that connects directly to the focus topic. After each meeting all teachers reflect on the process and respond to the question: What will you take back to your site from this meeting?


Preliminary results show that the teachers have gained a greater consciousness and awareness in their new role as a facilitator (leader) of colleagues. It was evident that specific methods used in the circle have been appreciated and taken back and developed further in each local site. For the researcher, a deeper understanding of how site based educational development can differ between organisations was highlighted.


All participants developed a deeper understanding of what enables and constrains site based educational development, the role as a facilitator for colleagues and developing courses at the University to promote site based educational development.