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A Framework for Improving Teaching and Learning Through Action Learning. Sue Bolt Curtin University of Technology Education in a Changing Environment The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 14 September 2007. Contents. Background The Quality Teacher Program Western Australian Context

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a framework for improving teaching and learning through action learning

A Framework for Improving Teaching and Learning Through Action Learning

Sue Bolt

Curtin University of Technology

Education in a Changing Environment

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

14 September 2007

  • Background
  • The Quality Teacher Program
  • Western Australian Context
  • Action Learning
  • Research Objectives
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Conclusion
  • Difficulty achieving sustained teacher development
  • 1950s – relatively unknown in WA
  • 1970s – expansion
  • 1980s – rationalisation
  • 1990s onwards – teacher standards, competency frameworks and registration
  • Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the 21st Century (MCEETYA, 1999)
  • Teachers for the 21st Century: Making the Difference (DEST, 2000)
the quality teacher program
The Quality Teacher Program
  • Nationally funded, pedagogical renewal program to enhance the status of teachers and improve teachers skills & understandings
  • Science, Mathematics, Literacy, Numeracy, Vocational Education and Information Technology
  • Directed by teachers on the school site
  • Teachers learned best from other teachers and wanted to apply their learning in the classroom
  • WA chose to use an action learning approach 2001-2003
western australian context
Western Australian Context
  • Curriculum Council Act 1997
  • Curriculum Framework (1998)
  • Outcomes and Standards Framework
  • Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Policy
  • 1999 – 2003: Curriculum Improvement Program (CIP) Phase 1
  • 2004 – Commencement of CIP2
evaluation of quality teacher program
Evaluation of Quality Teacher Program
  • Conducted by Murdoch University and Estill & Associates, Perth, WA
  • Four online surveys per year completed by schools and three by district offices based on six questions
  • Issues and successes were identified
  • Concluded that the impact of QTP was significant
action learning
Action Learning
  • Lewin, Revans
  • Nature of action learning - non-linear, cyclical, collaborative
  • Research question or problem
  • Plan, act, describe, reflect
research objectives
Research Objectives
  • To describe a series of case studies in which participants identified their significant experiences associated with the action learning cycle encountered in a pedagogical renewal program
  • To analyse contextual factors associated with participant defined successful outcomes in the pedagogical renewal program.
  • Phenomenography
  • Norms of the Australian National School Network were adopted
  • Purposive sample of case studies selected according to guidelines
  • Data analysis – bracketing, coder reliability testing, emergent themes
framework for improving teaching and learning through action learning


Professional Development










Learning & Teaching



Framework for Improving Teaching and Learning through Action Learning
  • Largely ignored in change efforts
  • The “before, during and after” stage of PD
  • Environment – Is there a designated suitable place for meetings? Does the culture support learning?
  • Organisation – Is there an effective leader and set meeting times?
  • Resources – Are there sufficient human & financial resources? Is there time?
  • Networking with teachers in and across schools
  • Outside partnerships – district office, universities
  • Links to the community – supporting programs, publicity
  • Challenged teachers to move beyond their comfort zone by working collaboratively to resolve issues
  • Theoretical Input – IT, cooperative learning, pedagogical changes, use of experts
  • Action learning – plan, act, describe, reflect (we do it all the time – not)
  • Ownership – not top down approach, something near and dear to participants
  • Commitment – similar to ownership but linked to action
  • Continuity – same participants, location, partnerships
  • Extension – inner circle and outer circle
professional growth
Professional Growth

Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation:

  • Emotional response – challenged teachers’ comfort zone
  • Knowledge and understanding – Curriculum Framework, Assessment
  • Behavioural change – teachers worked together and used more student centred pedagogy
  • Business benefits – student learning outcomes, attitudes and behaviour improved

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Bolt, S. (2003). Teacher Identification of Significant Action Learning Experiences Leading to Professional Growth. Unpublished Master of Education, Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

Bowden, J. (1988). Achieving Change in Teaching Practice. In P. Ramsden (Ed.), Improving Learning: New Perspectives (pp. 255-267). Great Britain: Kogan Page Ltd.

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Fullan, M. (2001). The New Meaning of Educational Change (4th ed.). New York: Teachers College Columbia University.

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Marton, F., & Ramsden, P. (1988). What Does it Take to Improve Learning? In P. Ramsden (Ed.), Improving Learning: New Perspectives (pp. 268-286). Great Britain: Kogan Page Ltd.

MCEETYA. (1999). The Adelaide Declaration On National Goals for Schooling In the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved 14/6/07, from


Meredith, E. M. (2000). Leadership Strategies for Teachers. Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education Skylight Professional Development.

Middleton, M., & Hill, J. (1996). Changing Schools: Challenging Assumptions and Exploring Possibilites. Australia: Hawker Brownlow.

O'Sullivan, F. (1997). Learning Organisations - Reengineering Schools for Lifelong Learning. School Leadership and Management, 17(2), 217-230.

Reynolds, P., & Clark, M. L. (1982). Perspectives on In-Service Teacher Education: An Overview of the Literature and Current Provisions in WA. Perth: Western Australian Post-Secondary Education Commission.

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