Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 73–96

Professional Development through Action Research: Case Examples in South African Higher Education

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11213-007-9083-3

Cite this article as:
Fletcher, M.A. & Zuber-Skerritt, O. Syst Pract Act Res (2008) 21: 73. doi:10.1007/s11213-007-9083-3


This paper identifies the quality characteristics of a professional development (PD) program on action research (AR) and presents the results of a second-order evaluation of such a program. Three case examples in South African higher education demonstrate how AR methodology has been applied to design, conduct and evaluate the PD program and to identify new ways of learning and improving professional practice in higher education. From data analysis, we distinguish six factors significant in contributing to the quality of the PD program in all three universities: facilitator expertise, adaptive planning, responsive evaluation, critical events, application, and self-efficacy. On the basis of the evaluation results, we present five models: (1) the AR workshop cycles; (2) characteristics of a quality PD program; (3) a PD program on and through AR; (4) three levels of reflection on AR; and (5) meta-action research.


Professional development in higher educationMeta-action researchSouth AfricaSecond-order evaluation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia