Reflecting on Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts
Evaluation and Enhancement of Professional Practice.
This Study Area focuses on Action Research (AR) as a means of enhancing an aspect of your learning and teaching situation.
Literature informed by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) complements and enhances the resources you will have encountered in Study Area 4 where the focus was primarily on the Student Voice providing evidence-based data to enhance practice.
Trigwell,K. et al (2000) in Scholarship of Teaching: A Model. Higher Education Research & Development. 19 p155 define the aim of scholarly teaching as ‘to make transparent how we have made learning possible’. In order to achieve this, we, as teachers, must be informed of the theoretical perspectives and literature of teaching and learning in our own subject disciplines. Only when we are equipped with this knowledge are we able to collect and present rigorous evidence of effectiveness to our peers or the wider Learning and Teaching Community of Practice.
It is no longer acceptable as a teacher in Higher Education to assert that “this method of teaching is effective because I’ve been applying it for 20+ years and all my students do just fine”. Whilst such a claim may be anecdotally correct, it does not take account of research and development in pedagogy. The teacher appears to believe that there is no room for improvement.
Engaging in Action Research (AR) is a requirement on most Post Graduate Learning and Teaching Accredited programmes as it enables the researcher to enhance their own current practice and to use this methodology to develop their practice in the future. There are multifarious Learning and Teaching Communities of Practice which have developed through the public sharing of Action Research projects.
Action Research assumes that:
- You seriously want to know ‘How can I improve what I am doing?’ in my professional practice
- You already embody educational knowledge in what you do that is worth making public as a contribution to knowledge through research into your question
- Your own educational knowledge will deepen, extend and transform as you research your practice and generate your own living educational theory.
The basic steps of an action research process constitute an action plan in which we:
- review our current practice,
- identify an aspect that we want to investigate,
- imagine a way forward,
- try it out, and
- take stock of what happens.
- We modify what we are doing in the light of what we have found, and continue working in this new way (try another option if the new way of working is not right)
- monitor what we do,
- review and evaluate the modified action,
- and so on …
McNiff, J. Lomax, P. & Whitehead, J. You and Your Action Research Report. London: Routledge, 1996.
Some of the resources here will help you to understand the difference between traditional quantative and qualitative research and AR, where participants are fully involved in research decisions and work with others as co-researchers. Other resources will help you with methodology, including how to organise your AR so that you are truly honouring the student voice. Once you have familiarised yourself with the Action Research process you will be equipped to enhance your practice throughout your professional life.
Study Area 8