Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 487–507 | Cite as

Meta-Action Research on a Leadership Development Program: A Process Model for Life-long Learning

  • Margaret A. Fletcher
  • Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt
  • Brendan Bartlett
  • Ruth Albertyn
  • Judith Kearney
Article

Abstract

Our purpose in this paper is to contribute to the field of systemic practice by sharing a process of professional learning based on meta-action research. The process emerged as we engaged with evaluation data from a leadership development program (LDP). The aim of this LDP had been to help leaders design their team projects on poverty reduction through action research methods in six African countries. As facilitators of the program we discuss our experiential learning based on critical reflection. We explain how meta-action research can transform understandings of ways to improve professional practice in future applications. We present three process models: (1) a model of reflection on action, (2) a meta-action research model, and (3) a model for lifelong learning through meta-action research. These models may be of benefit and interest to readers who facilitate systemic practice and action research in education, higher education, communities, industry and government.

Keywords

Systemic practice Meta-action research Reflective practice Lifelong learning Leadership development 

References

  1. Albertyn RM (2005) Increased accountability through monitoring empowerment programmes. J Fam Ecol Consum Sci 33:31–36Google Scholar
  2. Altrichter H, Feldman A, Posch P, Somekh B (2008) Teachers investigate their work: an introduction to action research across the professions, 2nd edn. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartlett BJ, Elliott SN (2008) The contributions of educational psychology to school psychology. In: Gutkin TB, Reynolds CR (eds) The handbook of school psychology, 6th edn. Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey, pp 65–83Google Scholar
  4. Berg AM, Elkland O (eds) (2008) Action research and organisation theory. Peter Lang Publishing Group, FrankfurtGoogle Scholar
  5. Boud D, Keogh R, Walker D (1985) Promoting reflection in learning: a model. In: Boud D, Keogh R, Walker D (eds) Reflection: turning experience into learning. Kogan-Page, London, pp 18–40Google Scholar
  6. Churchman CW (1979) The systems approach. Dell, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Cranton P (1994) Understanding and promoting transformative learning. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  8. Cranton P (1996) Types of group learning. New Dir Adult Contin Educ 71:25–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Denzin N (2009) Qualitative inquiry under fire. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CAGoogle Scholar
  10. Dick B (2004) Action research literature: themes and trends. Action Res 2(4):425–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dick B (2006) Action research literature 2004–2006: themes and trends. Action Res 4(4):439–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dick R (2009) Action research literature 2006–2008: themes and trends. Action Res 7(4):423–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fletcher MA (2005) Action learning/action research: a teacher-centered approach for self-improving schools. Lit Learn Middle Years 13(2):16–24Google Scholar
  14. Fletcher M, Zuber-Skerritt O (2008) Professional development through action research: case studies in South African higher education. Syst Practice Action Res 21:73–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Flood RL (2001) The relationship of ‘systems thinking’ to action research. In: Reason P, Bradbury H (eds) Handbook of action research: participatory action research and inquiry. Sage, London, pp 133–144Google Scholar
  16. Gray E (ed) (2009) Doing research in the real world. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Greenwood D, Levin M (2007) Introduction to action research: social research for social change, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oakes, CAGoogle Scholar
  18. Guile D, Griffiths T (2001) Learning through work experience. J Educ Work 14(1):114–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gustafson K, Bennett W (1999) Issues and difficulties in promoting learner reflection: results from a three-year study http://itcoeugaedu/~kgustafs/document/promotinghtml
  20. Hatton N, Smith D (1995) Reflection in teacher education: towards definition and implementation. The University of Sydney School of Teaching and Curriculum Studies, Sydney http://www2edfacusydeduau/LocalResource/Study1/hattonarthtml
  21. Joseph N (2003) Metacognition in the classroom. Pedagog 3(2):109–114Google Scholar
  22. Kemmis S (2009) Action research as a practice-based practice. Educ Action Res 17(3):463–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kemmis S, Mctaggart R (1988) The action research planner, third substantially revised edition. University Press Victoria, DeakinGoogle Scholar
  24. Kemmis S, Mctaggart R (2010) The action research planner, fourth substantially revised edition. University Press Victoria, DeakinGoogle Scholar
  25. Kincheloe JL, McLaren P (2000) Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds) Handbook of qualitative research, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 279–313Google Scholar
  26. Knowles M (1984) Andragogy in practice. Jossey-Bass Publishers, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  27. Kolawole OD (2005) Mainstreaming local people’s knowledge and implications for higher education. South Afr J Higher Educ 19:1427–1443Google Scholar
  28. Lewin K (1948) Resolving social conflict: selected papers on group dynamics. Harper Brothers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewin K (ed) (1952) Selected theoretical papers. Tavistock Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Louw I, Zuber-Skerritt O (2009) Reflecting on a leadership development program: a case study in South African higher education. Perspect Educ 27(3):237–246Google Scholar
  31. Mcintire A (2008) Participatory action research. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Mcniff J, Whitehead J (2009) Doing and writing action research. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Meseleku T (2004) African scholarship: some challenges facing intellectuals in South African higher education institutions. Ingede: J Afr Scholarsh 1(2):1–3Google Scholar
  34. Mezirow J (1978) Perspective transformation. Adult Educ Q 28(2):100–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mezirow J (1991) Transformative dimensions of adult learning. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  36. Mezirow J (1997) Transformative learning: theory to practice. New Dir Adult Contin Educ 74:5–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ottmann G, Laragy C, Damonze D (2009) Consumer Participation in Designing Community Based Consumer-Directed Disability Care: Lessons from a Participatory Action Research-Inspired Project. Syst Practice Action Res 22:31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Procee H (2006) Reflection in education: a Kantian epistemology. Educ Theory 56(3):237–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Quiňones MA, Ehrenstein A (1997) Training for a rapidly changing workplace. American Psychological Association, WashingtonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ramose M (2005) The African university in the twenty-first century. South Afr J Higher Educ 19:1187–1188Google Scholar
  41. Reason P, Bradbury H (eds) (2001) Handbook of action research: participatory inquiry and practice. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  42. Reason P, Bradbury H (eds) (2006) Handbook of action research: concise paperback edition. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Reason P, Bradbury H (eds) (2008) The Sage handbook of action research: participative inquiry and practice. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Reynolds M (1998) “Unfolding” natural resource-use information systems: fieldwork in Botswana. Syst Practice Action Res 11(2):127–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Reynolds M (2006) Evaluation based on critical systems heuristics. In: Williams B, Imam I (eds) Using systems concepts in evaluation: an expert anthology. EdgePress, Point Reyes CA, USA, pp 101–122Google Scholar
  46. Schön DA (1983) The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Temple Smith, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Schön DA (1987) Educating the reflective practitioner. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  48. Somekh B (2006) Action research: a methodology for change and development. Open University Press, MaidenheadGoogle Scholar
  49. Somekh B, Zeichner K (2009) Action research for educational reform: remodelling action research theories and practices in local contexts. Educ Action Res 17(1):5–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spreitzer GM (1996) Social structural characteristics of psychological empowerment. Acad Manage J 39(2):483–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stringer ET (2007) Action research, 3rd edn. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  52. Trevitt C (2005) Universities learning to learn? Inventing flexible (e) learning through first- and second-order action research. Educ Action Res 13(1):57–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vambe MT (2005) Opening and transforming South African education. Open Learn 20(3):285–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Waghid Y (2005) On the possibility of an African university: towards a scholarship of criticism deliberation and responsibility. South Afr J Higher Educ 19:1306–1314Google Scholar
  55. Zemblyas M (2006) Work-based learning power and subjectivity: creating space for a Foucauldian research ethic. J Educ Work 19(3):291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zimmer B (2001) Practicing what we teach in teaching systems practice: the action-learning cycle. Syst Practice Action Res 14:697–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zuber-Skerritt O (ed) (1991) Action research for change and development. Gower Aldershot, UKGoogle Scholar
  58. Zuber-Skerritt O (1992a) Professional development in higher education: a theoretical framework for action research. Kogan Page, LondonGoogle Scholar
  59. Zuber-Skerritt O (1992b) Action research in higher education: examples and reflections. Kogan Page, LondonGoogle Scholar
  60. Zuber-Skerritt O (ed) (1996) New directions in action research. Falmer Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  61. Zuber-Skerritt O (2007a) Leadership development in South African higher education: the heart of the matter. South Afr J Higher Educ 21(7):982–1003Google Scholar
  62. Zuber-Skerritt O (2007b) Action research and higher education in South Africa: personal experiences and reflections. In: Santos D, Todhunter M (eds) Action research and education in contexts of poverty: a tribute to the life and work of Professor Orlando Fals Borda. Ediciones UNISALLE, Bogotá Colombia, pp 49–70Google Scholar
  63. Zuber-Skerritt O (2009) Action learning and action research: songlines through interviews. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret A. Fletcher
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brendan Bartlett
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ruth Albertyn
    • 3
  • Judith Kearney
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Tshwane University of TechnologyPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Centre for Higher and Adult EducationStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  4. 4.Griffith Institute for Educational ResearchGriffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia

Personalised recommendations