No separation need be made between the design and delivery of teaching, and the process of researching these activities, thereby bringing theory and practice closer together.
Action research into our own teaching practice is an important source of learning for the group.
Here, we describe the nature of action research, and describe its use in the on-going development and evaluation of a new undergraduate module.
However, more recently, a number of initiatives at national and local levels have been established to create the conditions for innovation in these activities, and teaching/learning is becoming recognised as a more valid area of enquiry for academics across all disciplines, rather than as the unique preserve of specialists.
Action research methodology offers a systematic approach to introducing innovations in teaching and learning.
Among these are industrial, health and community work settings.
Kurt Lewin, often cited as the originator of action research (Mc Kernan, 1991), used the methodology in his work with people affected by post-war social problems.
Kolb (1984) extended this model to offer a conception of the action research cycle as a learning process, whereby people learn and create knowledge by critically reflecting upon their own actions and experiences, forming abstract concepts, and testing the implications of these concepts in new situations.
Practitioners can create their own knowledge and understanding of a situation and act upon it, thereby improving practice and advancing knowledge in the field.
Action research approaches to educational research were adopted in the late 60s and early 70s by the teacher- researcher movement in the secondary education sector.
This sought to bring the practising classroom teacher into the research process as the most effective person to identify problems and to find solutions.