Developing your academic role

Doing and supporting action research

Many teacher education courses have an element of teacher research and the terms ‘action research’ and ‘practitioner research’ cover a variety of approaches taken by teachers researching their own practice, or investigating an area in their school. Supporting trainees in the development of their research skills and abilities, as well as developing assignments for validation on teacher education courses, is a valuable way of engaging with fundamental principles of teacher education. In investigating their own practice in a structured and guided fashion, trainees learn to hone their evaluation skills and their forward planning abilities. It is important that trainees' small scale pieces of research are well designed, well guided and brought to a satisfactory conclusion. If these parameters are followed trainees' investigations can significantly support their understanding of student learning, and their ability to tailor their lessons and interventions to their individual students and circumstances.

The validation of the piece of research in the first instance lies in the findings being re-applied, this new situation being evaluated and the cycle of implementation and evaluation continued. In this sense, small-scale practitioner research can be a valuable adjunct to a trainee's professional learning. Through this work which engages their own actions and reflections, teachers may be helped to generate new insights and to exercise a certain autonomy in thinking about teaching and learning. Evidently, the kind of small scale practitioner research undertaken in initial teacher education courses cannot yield generalisable conclusions. Individual pieces of research may though be replicable by other trainees and teachers, and when repeated, evaluated and disseminated, can provide a useful basis on which to gain evidence informed perspectives on an aspect of teaching and learning.


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