Re: [xmca] Action Research: Generalisable learning

From: Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth who-is-at>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 21:18:16 PDT

Not too long ago, I published a book "Doing Teacher-Research: A
Handbook for Perplexed Practitioners" where I suggested just that---
discourse analysis as one of the important methods that teachers and
other action researchers can employ to their benefits. But there are
other methods as well. Above all, teachers are ideally placed for
doing research over time that other "professional" researchers
normally don't have, sometimes PhD students, but not so often.

For example, as a high school teacher, I did an 18-month study of
students epistemological discourse and changes therein. Which
professional researcher spends 3 lessons a week over 2 years with the
same students?


On 14-Aug-07, at 2:16 PM, Kimberly wrote:

I find discourse analysis very insightful as part of action research
- audio
taping group work sessions, class discussions, etc. then transcribing
analyzing the talk. There is so much richness under the surface which
usually goes undetected in-the-moment of teaching. Discourse analysis
within an ethnographic study allows the researcher-practitioner to dig
deeper into more layers; to see things "big" as Maxine Greene would say.
Additionally, I prefer to write in first person. I do not wish "to
completely disassociate my feelings from the research" for who I am
is part
of the research. And that doesn't necessarily lead to a "softening"
of the
research. To try to deny self by "detaching" myself and writing in
person seems misleading, possibly even deceptive. But then, I tend
to agree
with the teachings of Panofsky, Behar, Nash, Goodall, and others when it
comes to scholarly writing.

K. Cotter-Lemus

On 8/14/07 3:39 PM, "jose david herazo" <> wrote:

> Thank you very much Ana for your comments. In our discussion of
> Action
> Research at my University we are trying to arrive to an agreement
> about how
> our teacher-to-be students should hand in their final action research
> reports, which they do as part of their practicum. We have agreed
> that this
> should be done as an ongoing narrative of self-reflection,
> improvement and,
> hopefully, transformation. However, as we are just starting on
> this arena,
> we would like to read examples of the way it could be done, and
> thus enrich
> our discussion. I would be very grateful If you, or anyone else on
> this
> discussion could help us with that.
> Thanks again
>> From: "Ana Paula B. R. Cortez" <>
>> Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Action Research: Generalisable learning
>> Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 08:13:55 -0300 (ART)
>> Dear José-David,
>> I report findings as if the teacher of the study were a completely
>> different individual, but me. I use third person only ("the
>> teacher", "she
>> did this or that"...) to completely disassociate my feelings from the
>> research. I believe we tend to soften or simplify things when
>> they're about
>> ourselves and that's the richness of the action research, to give
>> us the
>> opportunity to look at ourselves as different subjects.
>> Hope you find it useful.
>> Regards,
>> Ana
>> jose david herazo <> escreveu: All the
>> reflections
>> about Action Research you have made have given me light
>> to improve my role as researcher. I have a question to ask,maybe
>> one of you
>> could give me still more light! In my work as an amateur action
>> researcher
>> I very often find it difficult to report action research findings,
>> How do
>> you usually report them?
>> Thanks
>> José-David
>>> From: "Ana Paula B. R. Cortez"
>>> Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>> To:, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Action Research: Generalisable learning
>>> Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2007 22:02:48 -0300 (ART)
>>> Very interesting, indeed! I personally find this kind of research
>>> fascinating, not only because there's an opportunity to look at the
>> school
>>> environment being part of it, but also as "an outsider", from a
>>> different
>>> perspective. I tend to analyse collected data as if the person
>>> teaching
>>> those lessons were another one, but myself. It's a way of solving
>>> teaching-learning practice problems, reflecting upon approaches and
>>> methodologies and, above all, finding ways to transform
>>> realities. In my
>>> opinion, it's a great chance of coming up with alternatives to
>>> overcome
>>> social barriers (now quoting Kincheloe, 1993. A formação do
>>> professor
>> como
>>> compromisso político - mapeando o pós-moderno. Porto Alegre: Artes
>> Médicas
>>> - sorry, I only have the reference in Portuguese).
>>> Besides, I include students in the analysis as well: I show
>>> them video
>>> taped classes for us to debate so that they also get to know a
>>> bit about
>>> the theory and they can criticize what they see (isn't that our
>>> intention
>>> to educate students to become critical citizens? So why not actively
>>> including them in the study?). In this way, the multiplicity of
>>> voices
>>> generating conflict and discussion enriches the analysis and
>>> expand the
>>> activity itself. I mean, in my case, teaching EFL in a Brazilian
>> bilingual
>>> school, this is the ultimate opportunity to transform the
>>> language as a
>>> tool for a result into a tool and result (as defined by Newman and
>> Holzman,
>>> 1993. Vygotsky - Revolutionary Scientist).
>>> Ana
>>> Mike Cole escreveu:
>>> This is an ongoing discussion the the action research list that
>>> ought
>> to
>>> be
>>> of interest to several of us.
>>> mike
>>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>> From: Jack Whitehead
>>> Date: Aug 7, 2007 3:28 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [arlist-l] Generalisable learning
>>> To: Action research list
>>> [ Converted to plain text. -- B. ]
>>> On 6 Aug 2007, at 23:35, David Tripp (by way of Bob Dick) wrote:
>>> However, as the purpose of action research is improved practice,
>>> when- and where-ever improved practice is achieved and others get
>>> to know about it, they tend to try it too, and so the practice is
>>> generalised as it moves from "it happened once here" to "it
>>> happens, here, there and everywhere!" and that's so much more
>>> relevant and important in terms of the method than categorical
>>> generalisation of other kinds of research.
>>> I do like the idea that practice is generalised as it moves is
>>> the way
>>> David
>>> describes above. You can follow this kind of generalisation from
>>> Chapter
>> 6
>>> Kevin Eames' narrative of his action research in one school from
>>> 1991:
>>> IN A
>>> This chapter deals with another aspect of my practice as an action
>>> researcher, and moves beyond my own classroom to my work with
>>> colleagues
>> at
>>> Wootton Bassett School. In contrast to the two preceding
>>> chapters, the
>>> focus
>>> has shifted back to my own practice, although at the time of
>>> writing, in
>>> the
>>> autumn of 1991, I had been seconded to work with the advisory
>>> service of
>>> Wiltshire LEA. The account I give here, therefore, is not
>>> concerned with
>>> the
>>> current advisory work in which I was involved, but with events
>>> which had
>>> taken place some time before.
>>> at:
>>> into Jacqueline Delong's action research between 1996-2002 into
>>> her work
>> as
>>> a Superintendent of Schools in Ontario, generating a culture of
>>> inquiry
>> in
>>> support of teacher action research in a whole school board in her
>> narrative
>>> of her"
>> MY
>>> at
>>> and into Moira Laidlaw's action research between 2000-2006 in
>>> China's
>>> Experimental Centre for Educational Action Research in Foreign
>>> Language's
>>> Teachers, hosted by Ningxia Teachers University, at:
>>> When David describes ' the purpose of action research is improved
>>> practice',
>>> I'm not sure if knowledge-creation is included in what is meant by
>>> 'improved
>>> practice'. I tend to make a distinction between the questions I
>>> ask in
>>> researching to improve my educational influences with my students in
>>> questions such as, 'How do I improve my practice?' and the
>>> educational
>>> knowledge I generate as I explain my educational influences in my
>>> own
>>> learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of the
>>> social
>>> formations in which I live and work. I stress the importance in
>>> action
>>> research of both improving my practice and of enhancing the
>>> educational
>>> knowledge-base through my contributions to educational theory. In my
>>> understandings of generalisability in action research I use the
>>> idea that
>>> practice is generalised as it moves in the way David describes, I
>>> also
>> use
>>> an idea of generalisability when I see that ideas generated in one
>> context
>>> by an action research are being acknowledged as !
>>> of use in the narrative of another action research who is working
>>> and
>>> researching in a different context.
>>> Love Jack.
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Received on Tue Aug 14 21:20 PDT 2007

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