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Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study
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Lin Norton - Ulster developing a robust pedagogical action research study

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  • 1. Developing a robust pedagogical action research study Lin Norton CHEP Visiting Professor nortonl@hope.ac.uk http://www.linnorton.co.uk/13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 1
  • 2. Aims• Brief introduction and recap – Purpose and characteristics of PAR in a university context – Example of a PAR study – Consideration of what is meant by ‘robust’ and how to achieve it – Consideration of how PAR can have a greater impact on theory and how practice can inform theory development. – Importance of dissemination• Workshop – Design a study to address the problem of disengaged students – Report back – Designing your own study: General Q and A 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 2
  • 3. Purpose of Action Research in a university context• Action research is action and research in the same process. It has twin aims of action for change in our teaching and assessment practice with research to increase our knowledge and understanding.• The aim of action research in a university context is to modify some aspect of teaching or assessment to improve our students’ learning experience/performance.• AR is not action for research (doing in order to increase understanding), nor research for action (increasing knowledge in order to be applied at a later time), but a coming together of two purposes in a single project or process. (Adapted from Hughes, 1997) 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 3
  • 4. The key question‘How do I improve my(L&T) practice?( see work of Whitehead and McNiff)13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 4
  • 5. The process of Action ResearchMany models of AR each with their own focus and purpose. Each modelhas a set of actions which typically include:1. Reviewing an area for improvement : ‘identifying a problem’ (Norton, 2009); answering the question ‘How do I improve my practice? ‘ (Whitehead’s terms).2. Formulating and implementing a change.3. Using rigorous methods to consider the impact of that change.4. Reviewing future actions in the light of what has been learnt. (typically leads to a further cycle)What many models fail to mention is the role of dissemination (not onlyfor purpose of peer scrutiny, but also to engender some impact orinfluence)13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 5
  • 6. What methods should I use?• Action research is a broad umbrella term for a general approach which is a way of doing research and acting to change a situation at the same time (the interaction of practice with theory) rather than any specific method of data collection.• The key to choosing your method (which can be anything from positivist experimental design to ethnography) is that it should be based to suit your own specific context and may well include reflexive accounts of your own enquiry and research process• Action research differs from reflective practice by going beyond to collecting and interpreting data and disseminating your findings13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 6
  • 7. Example. Peer feedback: using AR to overcome students’ reluctance to criticise (McMahon, 2010) .Pedagogical Context: u/g programme in which students asked to giveseminar presentations and give peer feedback.The issue : rarely any discussion among students who would look to thetutor for his comments and feedback.McMahon realised that he had structured his classes so that studentswere acting as a ‘learning audience’ rather than a ‘learning community’which is what he had intended, so instigated a 4 year AR study.• Year 1 (28 students) given list of ?’s based on assessment criteria and also asked to write comments on paper.• Findings: Quality of feedback didn’t improve.• Reflecting and acting: written questionnaire about students’ perceptions of peer assessment process.• Findings: majority of students felt very uncomfortable with the idea of ‘marking’ each other’s work and being critical- not their job to point out errors and didn’t want to be responsible for fellow student failing.13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 7
  • 8. Peer feedback study (2)Year 2 (24 students): Changes introduced after consulting with cohort 1: – 2 dedicated feedback forms provided to lessen confusion – Reassurance that feedback to be formative only; tutor would do summative assessment; emphasis to be on friendly criticism to help peers improve next time – Ownership of forms given to students; don’t have to show to tutor if they don’t want to – Workshop on how to give constructive rather than hurtful feedback• Findings (Discussion & Questionnaire): marked improvement in quality of feedback BUT clear split with half students preferring peer feedback and other half finding it not helpful• Further two cycles with progressive refinements and overall conclusion ) 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch
  • 9. Peer feedback study (3)• McMahon was able to demonstrate that changing the peer assessment system resulted in students seeing it as a worthwhile learning experience in which their feedback became more critically insightful; enhanced their own self-assessment and resulted in better student to student discussion in the seminar.• Two key elements to this transformation: – Feedback was changed to formative only – It was made clear that ownership of the comments was vested in the student being assessed so did not have to be submitted to the tutor• Essentially peer assessment becomes part of a self assessment process rather than being part of teacher assessment• He argues that AR can be very effective of developing and refining practice in a way that engages students and is from the start a real learning process rather than a teacher –imposed process13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 9
  • 10. What is a robust action research study?• One that is publishable in good quality peer reviewed journals (and/or reputable conferences)• Influential in influencing colleagues to change their L&T practice• Challenges status quo and influences or at least informs policy making• Helps us to understand and modify our L&T practice• Contributes to theory and knowledge in the domain of the scholarship of learning and teaching (SOTL) 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 10
  • 11. The link with theory• How can we make sure that practice and change does not remain in our immediate, local and specific context?• Huxham (2003) talks about 5 stages in developing a conceptual framework from action research : 1. Definition (what are you focusing on?) 2. Conceptualisation (interpreting your findings) 3. Elaboration (expanding the detail of how your findings relate to the conceptual framework) 4. Conclusion (drawing generalisations from your findings) 5. Practicality ( highlighting how the theory might be used and adapted by other practitioners) 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 11
  • 12. Scaling up your small question to a large question ?• Theoretical explanations of student learning – Deep or surface approaches to learning (Marton & Saljo) – Conceptions of learning (Saljo) – Conceptions of knowledge (Perry) – Epistemology (Baxter-Magolda, Hofer) – Reflective judgment (King and Kitchener) – Metacognition (Flavell)• Theoretical explanations of teaching – Behaviourist (Pavlov, Skinner, Bandura) – Cognitive (Miller, Craig & Lockart) – Constructivist (Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner) – Humanist (Maslow, Rogers) Ulster University Festival of Innovative16/10/2012 12 Practice
  • 13. Why dissemination is important• Action research has the specific aim of modifying or improving practice.• Action research also may have the political aim of changing or challenging the status quo.• No matter how good your action research study is it will, like any other project, perish unless you can disseminate it as widely as possible.• It is important to make your research work for you in as many ways as possible• Unless your action research study is opened up to peer scrutiny and review, it is more curriculum development or teacher reflective thinking than research. 13
  • 14. A potential journal to targetEducational Action Researchhttp://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/09650792.asp• “concerned with exploring the dialogue between research and practice in educational settings.• The considerable increase in interest in action research in recent years has been accompanied by the development of a number of different approaches: for example, to promote reflective practice; professional development; empowerment; understanding of tacit professional knowledge; curriculum development; individual, institutional and community change; and development of democratic management and administration.• Proponents of all these approaches share the common aim of ending the dislocation of research from practice, an aim which links them with those involved in participatory research and action inquiry. 14
  • 15. Potential conferences to aim forEuropean Association for Practitioner Research on ImprovingLearning (in education and professional practice) http://www.eapril.org/EAPRIL exists to increase the impact of practice-based and appliededucational research on educational policy.Collaborative Action Research Network.http://www.esri.mmu.ac.uk/carnnew/index.phpCARN aims to encourage and support action research projects(personal, local, national and international), accessible accounts ofaction research projects, and contributions to the theory andmethodology of action research. 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 15
  • 16. WorkshopIn small groups, consider theproblem of ‘disengaged’students1. Definition: As a group agree what the context will be.2. Design: Consider how you might design an action research study3. Theory: What theoretical explanations might you need to link your findings to?4. Dissemination: Who do you want to influence with your findings?5. Report back 13 September 2012 Ulster University CHEP launch 16

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