How can action research and enquiry processes support educational change? Can these processes lead to sustainable change? How can they support embedding literacy and numeracy in tertiary education?
Achieving sustainable change through academic development has been a main concern for the team, given the project’s limited lifetime. How? Research shows that a number of aspects support successful academic development and that it can be provided through different models. Theory and praxis need to be well-combined. Opportunities for knowledge building and sharing and on-going discussion between participants as well as time for trialling, practising and reflecting are vital components for academic development work (McKenzie & Turbill, 1999). 2009 research project identified that AR would be a good fit, also because the AR and enquiry cycle reflects the academic staff development processes with its “continuos practice, reflection, and fine-tuning” (Duke, 2004, p. 171).Concerns and questions we have:
The teaching staff are researching their own teaching practice and the effectiveness of a specific intervention for a previously determined issue their students are facing. For each individual research project, the tutors have identified a course-related issue that students find difficult. The second step has been to develop an intervention that then is implemented. Following the steps of the AR cycle, the tutors then observe and then evaluate the success of the intervention. The steps of the embedding cycle are very similar to the action research and enquiry cycle. It enables teaching staff to enhance their research capability whilst working on aspects relevant to their teaching and learning practices (Piggot-Irvine, 2009).
The AR projects at Unitec take place at certificate-level in Electrotechnology, library, Animal Care, Foundation Studies Nursing, Automotive Technology, Music. AR projects are concerned with learning of terminology, listening + finding information, reading, numeracy and different aspects of writing .
The AR projects at Unitec are mostly at certificate-level.
Before the initial interview, a snapshot was taken of the first impressions of participants – how they are feeling after the first AR workshop (reconnaissance) and to hear their thoughts on two questions prior to the initial interview: impressions on process and if they can identify with any of the given roles – five of seven replied: four positive, one mixed but support acknowledged by all. Facilitator (3), learning guide (2), …
Before the initial interview, a snapshot was taken of the first impressions of participants– five of seven replied: four positive, one mixed but support acknowledged by all. Facilitator (3), learning guide (2), …
Teacher engagementTeachers are experienced in providing tertiary learning and interested in enhancing their practice. Approach to teaching changes, depending on environment (3). “a two-way conversation”, “anti-transmission”, “end goal student autonomy” Everybody responded that either a tertiary teaching qualification or a literacy/numeracy/language teaching qualification has changed their approach to teaching in the pastNo one has previously used formal action research processes. Three p have used similar processes in the past.Gains hoped forGetting feedback, being a more effective teacher (3) Student gains (2) Measure value (1)
All participants reported positive experiences in the final interview.
Capturing sts’ feedback was vital, it also helped to enhance the evidence base and triangulate the dataAll teachers involved already had an awareness and interest in embedding LLN as well as a feeling that LLN supports their students’ overall study success However, the final interviews show that they have enhanced their thinking about their students’ learning and their own teaching. This has happened by planning, implementing an intervention, observing its results and evaluating its effects as well as by observing students’ learning in more detail (Gusky, 1986). The participants talked about their negative experiences and this has been used to improve the set-up in 2011where possible. Institutional aspects are being addressed in a structured way and its progress is being monitored by the Academic Literacies Team They have developed an enquiry stance where the investigation has become a mode of action (Brookfield, 1995; Rust, 2009).
NTLTC 2011 - researching strategies and interventions - embedding literacy and numeracy
Researching strategies and interventions: Action research and enquiry processes as vehicle for embedding literacy and numeracyLearning through research is a personal journey of discovery (Brew, 2003)
Your task What are your questions regarding using action research and enquiry processes to reflect on your teaching/for your own PD? What do you thinkcan bepotential issues with this approach?Take a moment to think about the questions, then turn to the person next to you and discuss…
From “informed prescription” to “informed professional judgement” (Fullan, 2003, p.6)Reflection enables teachers to systematically inquire into their ownpractices and processes. Both are central for transforming educationalpractices (Brookfied, 1995). Related questions: •How do we define ‘sustainable’? •What are we trying to change or transform? •Can it be changed by applying action research + enquiry processes? •What are the exact actions of teachers that cause the transformation?Academic staff development is essential for the implementation ofeducational change (Duke, 2004)
Action research and enquiry processes for embedding work ReflectReflect Reflect + Plan Diagnos+ evaluate Determine e success of issue +evaluat intervention interventione Observe Observe Act how Implement Intervene Test intervention intervention addresses issue Authored by Schwenger, Steps of action research + 2010 embedding cycle
2010 Individual projectsMeta-evaluation/Impact study How can action research and enquiry support change initiatives for teaching staff and lead to sustainable change?Electrotechnology Numeracy Place valueAnimal Care TerminologyLibrary Listening + accessibility of library vodcastsFoundation Studies Nursing Writing reportsAutomotive Technology Writing skillsMusic Reading of discipline texts
2011 Examples of individual projectsMeta-evaluation/Impact study How can action research and enquiry support change initiatives for teaching staff and lead to sustainable change?Languages Speaking English outside the classroomLibrary Information literacy: increasing distance learning students‟ engagement with library resourcesBusiness and Self-paced Moodle learning module reComputing/Business reading of discipline texts/reading comprehensionMusic Reading comprehensionTe Puna Ako Learning Centre E-learning: paraphrasing
Design 2010 April Email contactOne year Impact May Initial later … study interview October Final interview
Snapshot –before the initial interview Howdothe participants feel after the first action research workshop (reconnaissance)? What are their thoughts on the process of setting up an action research project so far? Can they identify with any of the given roles? The students have different perceptions … “whereas I see myself as teaching them how to learn and continue to learn!”
Initial interview Themes that emerged … L+ T approaches Engaged and experienced in providing tertiary learning Tertiary teaching or LLN PD that hasGains hoped for influenced teach. qualification influential approach No one used formal AR process Gains: Receiving feedback + be a more effective teacher Identified (3); student gains (2); AR in the past issue/intervention measure value (1)
Final interview 2010 How has the process affected Anticipated long-Personal AR Success of teaching + thinking term changes inexperiences intervention about approaches teaching/themselve s as teachers
Voices of the teachers: personal AR experience“Ongoing nature gives more time to reflect – commitment to meet again.”“One of the most valuable projects I could have been involved in.”“It has given me the opportunity to think more strategically about what we are doing and why.”Useful to engage in research – “research on training wheels”. Everybody mentioned that they would like to publish and present at conferences (has already happened).
Voices of the teachers: downsides“Not easy to find time and enthusiasm of teachers.”“Had to redo my plans. ”“Things did not work out as I thought.”“Not much support later on in project.”“Is research by teachers seen as valid and vital by institute?”“AR is not recognised as professional development at Unitec.”
Voices of the teachers: student evaluation All projects have had a student evaluation aspect included. Students were surveyed to capture their opinions on the intervention. All teachers reported that the interventions were considered successful, helpful or useful by students. Changes in skill levels were captured by the National Assessment Tool, or through assignments and tests.
Voices of the“It made me „gear teachers:up‟ my awareness of “Other professionalmy teaching in a changes for their developmentway that I might nototherwise have teaching initiatives are on the side. Action researchencountered.” sits alongside the teaching and is part of the process.”“It made me muchmore focused onevidence to supportmy reflections andto provide a moreunbiased view ofneed for changes toteaching andlearning.”
Voices of the teachers: long-term changes for teaching“I will focus more on the dialogue with academic writing issues. I see myself as making the path clear for students to position themselves in the academic game.”“It has helped me to accept that teaching is interminally challenging and that there are no quick fixes.”“Teach – reflect – amend. Feedback = raised flags.”
Discussion of outcomes Interventions were based on discipline-specific, explicit activities, developed after considering students‟ needs. Students‟ progress + feedback was captured. Enhanced thinking The researcher-practitioners have systematically investigated their own practices and processes by reflecting and focusing on one particular issue (Brookfield, 1995). Action research and enquiry processes have helped teachers to reflect and focus on their teaching practice as well as grow research capability. It has been a successful initiative for embedding literacy and numeracy, with explicit and specific interventions being designed, implemented and evaluated.
Design 2011April • Initial questionnaireMay • Initial focus groups • Monthly email promptsOct • Final questionnaireNov • Final focus groups
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