Reflecting on Your Practice
Notes for our seminar
A workshop at the Institute of Guidance Counsellors Annual Conference
Glen Royal Hotel, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, March 2008
Action research and guidance counselling
Action research is a form of workplace-based professional learning that enables guidance counsellors and other practitioners to ask questions of the kind, ‘How do I improve what I am doing?’ as they seek to live their values more fully in their practice (Whitehead 1989). The core values in question, within the context of guidance counselling, are the values of compassion, inclusion and independent enquiry that come to the fore in a critical awareness of the vulnerability of self and others while encouraging independence in learning and action. Guidance counsellors would ask, ‘How do I encourage students to take responsibility for their own decisions? How do enable them to make wise choices? How do I learn to be a better guidance counsellor?’
Key features of action research
Some of the key features of action research are:
The study is workplace-based, across professions and disciplines
- The living ‘I’ is the centre of the enquiry
- Research questions can take the form, ‘How do I improve my practice?’
- The work is done collaboratively and through negotiation
- It is underpinned by the core values of democracy, inclusion, compassion, accountability, and self-determination and self-development
- Accounts are made available for public scrutiny in the form of practitioners’ own living theories of practice, comprising their descriptions and explanations for what they are doing
- The work emphasises the idea of educational influences in learning
- The work links themes of creating knowledge and improvement of practice
Significance and potentials of action research
Action research is now used extensively, in international settings, to address key policy agendas relating to workplace-based professional education. Some of these areas are
- Personalised learning
- Systems redesign
- Deep learnings for organisational development
- Professional portfolios
- Personal and organisational wellbeing
- Environmental sustainability
- Cultural renewal and renaissance
An action research planner
Action enquiries often take the form of people asking critical questions, such as these:
- What is my concern?
- Why am I concerned?
- What experiences can I describe to show why I am concerned?
- What can I do about it?
- What will I do about it?
- What kind of data will I gather to show the situation as it unfolds?
- How do I ensure that any conclusions I come to are reasonably fair and accurate?
- How do I explain the significance of my research?
- How do I modify my concerns, ideas and practices in the light of my evaluation?
Key texts include:
McNiff, J. (2003) Action Research for Professional Development. This booklet may be downloaded from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/booklet1.html, for use in your own context.
McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2006) All You Need to Know about Action Research. London, Sage.
McNiff, J., Lomax, P. and Whitehead, J. (2003) Your and Your Action Research Project (second edition). London, Routledge.
Whitehead, J. (1989) Creating a Living Educational Theory from Questions of the Kind, ‘How do I improve my Practice?’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 137–153. Retrieved 8 th March 2008 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/livtheory.html
Whitehead, J. and McNiff, J. (2006) Action Research: Living Theory. London, Sage.
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NEW BOOK AVAILABLE NOW!
NEW BOOK AVAILABLE NOW!
VALUE AND VIRTUE IN PRACTICE-BASED RESEARCH (2013) EDITED BY JEAN MCNIFF, DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD.
JEAN MCNIFF'S (2010) ACTION RESEARCH FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: CONCISE ADVICE FOR NEW (AND EXPERIENCED) ACTION RESEARCHERS. DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS. PLEASE GO TO WWW.SEPTEMBER-BOOKS.COM FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
THIS BOOK IS A BRAND NEW PRODUCTION AND HAS LOTS OF EXAMPLES, EXERCISES AND REALLY PRACTICAL ADVICE THAT ENGAGES WITH FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ACTION RESEARCH. IT GIVES A CONCISE THEORETICAL OVERVIEW FOR ACTION RESEARCH AS WELL AS OUTLINING ITS HISTORICAL ROOTS. I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!
Go to www.september-books.com to order and to see further information about the book and its contents.
Read about the Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research conference at York St John University, Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th June 2015. Go to www.yorksj.ac.uk/value&virtue for further information.
Keynote speakers: Dr Tina Cook, Northumbria University
Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Julian Stern, York St John University
Professor Jean McNiff, York St John University