Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 73–96 | Cite as

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

Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Professional development in higher education Meta-action research South Africa Second-order evaluation 

References

  1. Abraham S (1994a) Board management training for indigenous community leaders using action research: the Kuju CDEP learning experience. Port Lincoln Kuju CDEP Inc., South AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  2. Abraham S (1994b) Exploratory action research for manager development. Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management Association (ALARPM), BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  3. ANC—African National Council (1994) A framework for education and training. Available at: http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/policy/educate.htm (accessed 25 January 2007)
  4. Blunt P, Merrick LJ (1992) Managing organizations. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers AF (1982) What is this thing called science? University of Queensland Press, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  6. Dick B (2005) Making process accessible: robust processes for learning, change and action research. DLitt. International Management Centres Association. Buckingham (UK). Available at: http://www.uq.net.au/∼zzbdick/dlitt/ (accessed 25 January 2007)
  7. Fals Borda O (ed) (1998) People’s participation: challenges ahead. Tercer Mundo Editores, BogotaGoogle Scholar
  8. Fals Borda O (2006) The North–South convergence. Action Res 4(3):351–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fals Borda O, Rahman MA (eds) (1991) Action and knowledge: breaking the monopoly with participatory action research. Apex Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Freire P (1972) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Penguin, Harmondsworth, UKGoogle Scholar
  11. Fletcher MA (2005) Action learning/action research: a teacher-centered approach for self-improving schools. Literacy Learning: Middle Years 13(2):16–24Google Scholar
  12. Kiggundu M (1991) The challenges of management development in sub-Saharan Africa. J Manage Dev 10(6):42–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lincoln Y, Guba E (1985) Naturalistic inquiry. Sage, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Meynell F (2005) A second-order approach to evaluating and facilitating organizational change. Action Res 3(2):211–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Miles MB, Huberman AM (1994) An expanded sourcebook of qualitative data analysis, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  16. NSDC—National Staff Development Committee (1995) Action learning in vocational education and training (vol 1: Theoretical background), National Staff Development Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, Chadstone VICGoogle Scholar
  17. Reed Y, Davis H, Nyabanyaba T (2002) Investigating teachers’ ‘take-up’ of reflective practice from an in-service professional development teacher education programme in South Africa. Educ Action Res 10(2):253–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Revans R (1967) Developing a department of business administration in the University of Khartoum. J Manage Stud 4:169–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Revans R (1991a) Action learning and the third world. Int J Hum Resour Manage 1(2):73–92Google Scholar
  20. Revans R (1991b) Reg Revans speaks about action learning. Video program produced by Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt. University of Queensland, Brisbane: Video Vision, ITS (published on DVD in 2006 by Acaciacom, Brisbane)Google Scholar
  21. Schön DA (1983) The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Temple Smith, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Senge P (1990) The fifth discipline. Doubleday/Currency, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Strauss A, Corbin J (eds) (1997) Grounded theory in practice. Sage, Thousand Oakes, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  24. Wadsworth Y (2005) How can professionals help people to inquire using their own action research? Action Learn Action Res (ALAR) J 10(1):81–82Google Scholar
  25. Walker M (1996) Context, critique and change: doing action research in South Africa. In: O’Hanlon C (ed) Professional development through action research in educational settings. Falmer Press, London, pp 42–60Google Scholar
  26. Walker M, Unterhalter E (2004) Knowledge, narrative and national reconciliation: Storied reflections on the South African truth and reconciliation commission. Discourse Stud Cult Polit Educ 25(2):279–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Willcox J, Zuber-Skerritt O (2003) Using Zing team learning system (TLS) as an electronic method for the nominal group technique (NGT). Action Learn Action Res (ALAR) J 8(1):59–73Google Scholar
  28. Yin RK (2003) Case study research: design and methods, 3rd edn. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Zuber-Skerritt O (1996) Action research for change and development, 2nd edn. Gower-Avebury, Aldershot, UKGoogle Scholar
  30. Zuber-Skerritt O (2001) Action learning and action research: paradigm, praxis and programs. In: Sankaran S, Dick B, Passfield R, Swepson P (eds) Effective change management using action research and action learning: concepts, frameworks, processes and applications. Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, Australia, pp 1–20Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations