Practitioner enquiry (PE)
DEFINITION AND RESEARCH:
Hubbard & Powers (1999)
Practitioner enquiry (PE) is a form of action research performed by teachers to understand their students and improve their practice in specific, concrete ways. Through careful reflections and self- assessments, teachers can develop and refine their craft. The significance of the teacher’s study is how it informs and changes their teaching. Conducting action research can also change how teachers view themselves as professionals. Positive experiences with the action research process can build confidence in teachers as they collect evidence of successful teaching or decision-making.
Bennett, C (1994)
Conducted a study to evaluate teachers’ perceptions of PE. She found that teachers who conducted action research viewed themselves as being more open to change, more reflective about their teaching practices and decision making, and more effective teachers with fresher attitudes toward the educational process.
Gay & Airasian (2003)
- Teachers investigate their own practice in new ways, looking deeper in what they and their students actually do and fail to do.
- Teachers develop a deeper understanding of students, the teacher learning process and their role in the education of both teachers and students.
- Teachers are viewed as equal partners in deciding what works best and what needs improvement in their classroom or classrooms.
- In most cases, solutions for identified problems are arrived cooperatively among teachers. Teachers are often more committed to PE because they identify the areas they view as problematical and in need of change.
- PE is an ongoing process and its strategies can be widely applied.
- Professional development and school improvement are core aspects for any teacher who engages in action research.
- Teacher reflection can be conducted individually or in a school-based team composed of students, teachers and administrators.
Borgia & Schuler (1997), Mills (5TH ED)
- Teachers investigate their own practice in new ways, looking deeper in what suits themselves and their students
- Encourages change in schools
- Fosters a democratic approach to education
- Empowers individuals through collaboration on projects
- Positions teachers and other educators as learners who seek to narrow the gap between practice and their vision education
- Encourages educators to reflect on their practice
- Promotes a process of testing new ideas.
Discussed how PE benefits the field of education, teachers, and their students.
I will follow the split used by Glanz for the advantages of PE to practitioners, establishment and students.
PE Advantages to teachers
- Effective teachers, seek mechanisms for continual improvement in their practice and mechanisms to expand their existing knowledge. PE fulfils the desire to know more and inspire continued interest in their work.
- Teachers as researchers identifies the issues which affect their practice and therefore research is relevant to their own work and context.
- Sustainable and continuous as practitioners can develop ways to improve their craft
- Can be used to explore your own teaching style/practice.
- Could investigate the practice of others in the department to improve their own practice.
- The researchers identify the problems systematically
- It can lead to the development of research-oriented individuals
- It is collaborative/group and democratic but can also be completed by an individual
- Allows peers to observe the practice of others and to interview to consider others views and why things happen.
- Encourages reading to support understanding e.g. literature or course syllabus
- Causes the teacher to self-evaluate their own practice e.g. teacher style (if it is appropriate for the group/context), how discipline group, group dynamics.
- By evaluating result the practitioner provides explanations and solutions to current problems/issues e.g. change teaching environment.
- PE can be included as CPD required by GTCS and Educational Institutions.
- PE can involve a variety of qualitative methods which enhance skill development, including: 1:1 interviews, focus groups, participant observation. The practitioner may decide to use more than one method.
- The researcher becomes the knowledge disseminator.
Benefits to the school/college/university
- It improves educational practice and helps create better professionals.
- Enhances decision making providing an intelligent way of making decisions.
- Promotes reflection and self-assessment.
- Instils a commitment to continuously improve.
- Creates a more positive school climate in which teaching/learning are more foremost concerns.
- Impacts directly on practice, and empowers those who participate in the process.
- PE that is supported in the school and district can provide teachers ongoing opportunities to deepen their knowledge of teaching and learning. This can be an empowering experience for teachers. If the approach to action research is organized in a collaborative manner, this professional development approach can create a collegial, collaborative environment that fosters risk-taking, professional dialogue, and reflection.
Benefit to students
- Their learning is the focus of the action research study.
- Their needs are better understood.
- Teachers are more enthused and consequently so are their students.
- Taught using current methodologies.
- Students are the change-receiver as a consequence of PE.
There are risks that for the practitioner who decides to evaluate his own practice.
- Time consuming and could detract focus from learning/teaching.
- I not rigorous enough he results will be invalid
- How do you select students to participate?
- How objective will the practitioner be in his/her selection of participants?
- There is a risk that the practitioner selects students who they knows will co-operate with study, who they have a good relationship so that any comments/interview data will be complementary of the practitioner?
- Will students feel they have a choice to participate or are they just selected/coerced?
- Will participants be honest in answers to questions particularly if the answer was negative?
- Would there be fear of repercussions (lower grade marks etc).
- The main fear would be that evaluation of personal practice is not positive or critical of teaching style.
- Will the practitioner include findings that will reveal this or will this be left out of the report? If so it does raise the issue of how validated the report is.
- If using PR the practitioner must critically analyse and evaluate their practice if they want to make changes and improve.
- They must be prepared to take action as a result of the findings.
Hubbard, RS & Powers, BM (1999). Living the Questions: A Guide for Teacher Researchers
Gay, L. R. & Airasian, P. (2003). Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications, Seventh Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. http://www.edrev.info/reviews/rev352.htm
Borgia & Schuler (1997), Action Research in Early Childhood Education. ERIC Digest.
Mills 5th ed
Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher, (5th Edition)
Glanz, (2003) Action research: an educational leader’s guide to school improvement
“At its best teacher research is a natural extension of good teaching. Observing students closely, analyzing their needs, and adjusting the curriculum to fit the needs of all students have always been important skills demonstrated by fine teachers.”