For those concerned with issues of equity and social justice in schools, differences in achievement and participation rates amongst students from different socio-economic groups pose a significant challenge. These differences persist despite having been a major focus for educational researchers over several decades. Conventional approaches to research appear to have had little impact. This feature aims to explore the potential of action research to challenge the exploitative nature of education and address the perceived de-professionalization of teachers (Ball, 2013) through involving them as collaborative partners rather than as the objects of research.
Action research involves practitioners carrying out a systematic and rigorous investigation of their own practice. It aims to develop a deeper understanding of theory-in-practice and to bring about positive social change for those involved in the research process. Action research methodologies have been under-utilized in formal school educational settings and have tended to be carried out in informal settings or in under-developed countries where the exploitative nature of practice is more overt. A 2018 BERA report highlighted the renewed interest in ‘close to practice’ research, including action research, for bringing about changes in classroom practice, while at the same time highlighting concerns over its quality. Practitioner research often lacks robustness in research design and transferability to contexts beyond those in which the practitioners are working.
Publication date: 13 November 2020
Dr Pete Wright, UCL Institute of Education, UK
Is there hope for action research in a ‘directed profession’? Caroline Daly, Linda Davidge-Smith, Chris Williams and Catherine Jones
Cross-school ‘close-to-practice’ action research, system leadership and local civic partnership re-engineering an inner-city learning community, Peter Dudley, Martin Pratt, Christine Gilbert, Jon Abbey, Jean Lang and Helen Bruckdorfer
Exploring teachers’ experiences of action research, Sinéad Vaughan
Teachers as researchers: Reflecting on the challenges of research–practice partnerships between school and university in Chile, Gonzalo R. Guerrero-Hernández and Rocío A. Fernández-Ugalde
Dialoguing with teacher-educators, valorizing teacher innovations, Vijaya Sherry Chand, Samvet Kuril and Anurag Shukla
Close-to-practice research: The need for student voice and the strange case of Academy x, Simon Edwards and Chris Brown
Curriculum design through lesson study, Geoff Wake and Sarah Seleznyov
Developing motivated adolescent readers and enhancing student voice, using action research in disadvantaged contexts, Tara McMullan and Julia Sutherland