Action Research as a Tool for Reflection in Teacher Education

Action Research as a Tool for Reflection in Teacher Education

Seçil Dayioğlu Öcal (Hacettepe University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2963-7.ch010
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Education is context-specific and requires knowledge of the dynamics, participants, and aspects of this particular context. Indeed, it cannot be considered out of its own organization, culture and the environment around. Action research as a tool is so relevant for novice and pre-service teachers since it can help them find their own way and refine their teaching skills. In fact, it is a mindset for all teachers as they can be more reflective practitioners, thoughtful, and willing to examine themselves in the context of their own classroom and school settings (Phillips & Carr, 2010). This chapter attempts to identify the linkage between action research and reflection and how this can foster teachers' development in Turkey. This is through describing a case study in a professional development program which aims to find out about the novice teachers' reflections on the conducted action research as a professional development activity.
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In the teacher education programs, it is crucial to equip the teacher candidate with the necessary skills to shape and reshape their knowledge of teaching and learning in their profession. Farrell (2014) stated “much of a teacher’s early knowledge is developed initially in teacher education programs, and then through teaching experiences and reflections throughout their careers” (p.1). Especially novice and pre-service teachers are sensitive about the actions and processes happening in the classroom and they do not have enough experience to deal with the classroom context; thus, they can undergo negative thinking and even at the end they can decide to leave the profession. These teachers need support to go on this process to understand the local issues (Richards & Pennington, 1998; Vaughan & Burnaford, 2016). Volk (2009) expressed the place of action research in teacher education:

This recognition of the need to include action research theory and methodology in teacher preparation programs would then suggest that if novice or practicing teachers are experienced with such research practices, they will be more likely to undertake further investigations when they teach. (Volk, 2009, p. 317)

‘Action research’ is a term currently used to identify the researches conducted by the practitioners of an issue. In other words, these researches are not done by someone outside the context but by the person himself who implements or applies the subject. Regarding this, this term has some synonyms frequently used in the literature. The most common ones are “teacher research”, “practitioner research”, “site-based research”, “collaborative action research”, “participatory action research” and “classroom research”. In the educational context, the term “action research” is widely used (Anderson et al., 1994, p.1 & Hopkins, 2002, p. 7).

Action research is defined by many scholars in various ways. Hopkins (2002) defines the term as “a substantive act with a research procedure disciplined by enquiry and a personal attempt at understanding while engaged in a process of improvement and reform” (p. 43). According to McNiff and Whitehead (2005), action research is “an approach to personal and professional development that enables practitioners everywhere to investigate and evaluate their work –to monitor what you are doing- and to create their own theories of practice” (p. 01). In other words, action research is considered as a tool for reflection. Kitchen and Stevens (2008) defined it as “a form of educational research wherein a professional, actively involved in practice, engages in systematic, intentional inquiry into some aspect of that practice for the purpose of understanding and improvement” (p.12). Action research is an approach to enquiry that forges linkages between research and teaching, with each potentially informing the other in a responsive and creative cycle (Lowry-O’Neil, 2009).

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