Approaching An Action Research Thesis

Approaching An Action Research Thesis-87
All adopt a methodical, iterative approach embracing problem identification, action planning, implementation, evaluation, and reflection.The insights gained from the initial cycle feed into planning of the second cycle, for which the action plan is modified and the research process repeated (Figure 1).We believe that an action research approach can contribute very positively to activity within the tertiary sector concerned with teaching quality issues, and with national Teaching Quality Assessment initiatives.

Traditionally, lecturers have not been encouraged to draw upon theoretical developments as a means of improving curriculum design and delivery.For example, our current activities involve the exploitation of appropriate technology to support open and distance learning, and the design of curricula based upon constructivist and experiential learning principles (Duffy & Jonassen, 1992; Kolb, 1984).The research group supports departmental teaching and learning innovations as well as pursuing its wider research agenda.Action research approaches to educational research were adopted in the late 60s and early 70s by the teacher- researcher movement in the secondary education sector.This sought to bring the practising classroom teacher into the research process as the most effective person to identify problems and to find solutions.Their practice is self-evaluated in that the reflective and analytical insights of the researcher- practitioners themselves form the basis of the developmental process.Action research is participative in that those involved contribute equally to the inquiry, and collaborative in that the researcher is not an expert doing research from an external perspective, but a partner working with and for those affected by the problem and the way in which it is tackled.It seeks to do this by putting the teacher in the dual role of producer of educational theory, and user of that theory.This is both a way of producing knowledge about higher education learning and teaching, and a powerful way of improving learning and teaching practice.We have decided to take a group-based action research approach to the development of an introductory undergraduate module on the use of computer-mediated communications, entitled Elements of Information Management: communicating effectively in the networked organisation.This activity has been supported by funding from Sheffield University Curriculum Development Fund, enabling one of us to devote time to formalising a suitable action research approach.


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