Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Action research and collaborative communities for learning as a means of professional development and improved practice

Keywords: action research, communities of learning, education, link between practice and research

Authors: Dr Donald Gray (University of Aberdeen); Dr Dean Robson (University of Aberdeen); Dr Laura Colucci-Gray (University of Aberdeen)

Funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department, the Hunter Foundation and the University of Aberdeen, Scottish Teachers for a New Era (STNE) is investigating and developing a new model for teacher education. The Scottish Teachers for a New Era (STNE) team at the University of Aberdeen is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and practitioners from the university and local authority partners who are responsible for developing evidence gathering activities related to:

  1. Pupil learning gains/achievements
  2. Student teacher knowledge and performance
  3. Beginning teacher knowledge and performance
  4. Programme review and development

To support the generation of an 'evidence-rich' environment for programme and policy decision-making the team is developing a portfolio of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods studies. These evidence-gathering activities are designed to explore the characteristics of pupil learning, teacher learning and learning to teach to support social and educational inclusion. This presentation will focus on one particular aspect of the initiative, that of action research. The presentation will provide a broad background about the STNE initiative to set the context for the action research studies. It will then give an overview of the framework for professional development and improved practice through systematic reflective enquiry, or action research. There are three strands to the action research programme: an introduction to action research in year 3 undergraduate B.Ed programme, a focus on probationer involvement in action research and the support and development of practitioner action research through teacher action research scholarships. The presentation will outline the rationale behind, and the structure of, each of these strands of action research and link these to the development of a collaborative community for learning designed to enhance professional development and improve learning at a number of levels.

This contribution will add to the discussion about the role of research and systematic enquiry in professional development. It will also consider the link between research and practice and provide details of case studies, each of which is looking at action research and professional development at different stages of the professional development pathway.

Date: Wednesday 23 January 2008, 3.30-4.00

Venue: Harris Two

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).