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Teacher Engagement with Action Research Dean Robson, Kevin Stelfox Helen Celnik, Gregor Watson

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STNE Perspectives on Learning Seminar 18 March 2008. Teacher Engagement with Action Research Dean Robson, Kevin Stelfox Helen Celnik, Gregor Watson. STNE Research Impetus 2007. Program/ Course Evaluation and Student Data Action Research Initiatives Learning Projects.

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STNE Perspectives on Learning Seminar

18 March 2008

Teacher Engagement with Action Research

Dean Robson, Kevin Stelfox

Helen Celnik, Gregor Watson

STNE Research Impetus 2007
  • Program/ Course Evaluation and Student Data
  • Action Research Initiatives
  • Learning Projects
Teaching and Research

“Teachers engaging in research is a third seed of professional knowledge creation.” Hargreaves (1999)

“What constitutes the relevance of research, for instance, depends to a large extent on what questions are being asked, in what context, and for what practical ends.” Davies (1999)

“…the uniqueness of each classroom setting implies that any proposal needs to be tested and verified and adapted by each teacher in her or his own classroom.” McIntyre (2005)

“The evidence indicates how teachers’ involvement and confidence can be built in expansive learning environments characterised by specialist support, collaborative working, and the development of mutual trust.” Brown (2005)

What is Action Research ?

‘Applied to classroom, action research is an approach to improving education through change, by encouraging teachers to become aware of their own practice, to be critical of that practice, and to be prepared to change it. It is participatory, in that it involves the teacher in his own enquiry, and collaborative, in that it involves other people as part of a shared enquiry. It is research WITH, rather than research ON’.

[McNiff, J (1988) Action Research Principles and Practice. Basingstoke:MacMillan Education]





ACTION research investigates everyday problems experienced by teachers

Why Action Research ?
  • GTCS recognition of importance of teacher research.
  • Standards and Professional Recognition Frameworks (SITE, SFR etc).
  • Models of CPD.
  • Defined aims of STNE R&D project link to the continuous development of a research engaged teacher within the envelope of integrated whole career professional learning.
  • Classroom-based investigation of pupil (learner) gains.
Defining the Action Research Learning Community
  • BEd (P) Year 3 students
  • BEd (P) Year 4 students
  • Probationer Teachers in STNE local authority partners
  • Action Research Scholars in 6 STNE local authority partners
  • Tutors (eg. ATLAC)
  • Role of BTN (Beginning Teachers’ Network)
AR Community Schematic

Baseline Pupil Measures

End-point Pupil Measures


A R Conferences

BEd3 Group Research

BEd4 Individual Action Research

Induction Year + Action Research

A R Scholarships
  • Research seminars
  • University mentors
  • Links with APS
  • Focus on classroom practice
  • Focus on pupil (learner) gains
  • 2007 : Funded 15 teachers
Pupil Gains – Policy Context
  • Dominant discourse
    • Performance culture
  • Emerging discourse

- AifL

- Curriculum for Excellence

- Integrated Children's Services

    • HIGOS 3 2:1 Learners’ experiences The extent to which learners are motivated and actively involved in

their own learning and development

Towards a Definition

Two strands of pupil gains:

1) Young people’s attainment measured through standardised testing value added - subject based- cognitive gains

  • Data available but problematic
Towards a Definition
  • Wider definition - achievement/social gains within the school context
    • Young people’s gains using Curriculum for Excellence capacities which can be viewed through subject focus
    • also the potential for pupil gains through a non subject focus i.e. social/relational context
Pupil Gains
  • Exploratory research to develop wider indicators
  • Participatory action research focusing on young people’s gains in relation to Assessment for Learning activities in Moray
  • Work with teachers and young people on definitions of young people’s gains
  • Establishment of small focused research network of teachers and young people
Exploratory research to develop

wider indicators

  • Collaboration has begun with colleagues at LTScotland to link with trialling the draft outcomes of the new curriculum
  • Linking into the Teacher Action Research Scholarship Teachers
Pupil Gains


  • Explore and develop an understanding of broader educational outcomes
  • Develop range of indicators
  • Develop practical tools that can be used by teachers to support assessment of broader conceptions of learning outcomes
STNE AR Scholarships 2007

Some Examples (P&S) :

  • Role of video in developing Maths Recovery strategies.
  • Can a multi-modal approach improve the outcome for a disaffected S4 standard Grade Chemistry Class?
  • Investigation of the use of ICT to support pupils with cerebral palsy.
  • Investigating children’s learning and development of literacy skills in a structured play area.
  • Impact of teacher continuity on pupil motivation.
  • Active learning approaches within P6/P7 mathematics.
  • Exploring the factors responsible for effectiveness of a pragmatic model using alternative arts activities on vulnerable and ‘at-risk’ secondary school pupils.
AR Scholar Experiences
  • Helen Celnik – Kincorth Academy
  • Gregor Watson – Glashieburn Primary School
Discussion Questions

Question 1

  • How can Action Research impact on your professional learning ?

Question 2

  • How can Action Research be used to explore pupil gains in the context of a Curriculum for Excellence ?