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Developing the Rational: Action Research

Developing the Rational: Action Research


Overall learning goal

By making a connection between professional learning & student success in the first of this year’s seminars, participants further develop their rationale for carrying out action research on the impact of professional development.

At the end of the two day seminar, participants will have solidified their action research plan, including chosen evidence; program of implementation; driving questions and data collection methods.


Following on from 2016-2017’s topic, ‘Taking a Critical Look at Educational Research and Its Applications’, this year starts off by focusing on action research, reminding educators that creating a change in practice will have a positive impact on student learning, achieving the ultimate collective goal.

Following a review of last year’s work, which supported Lead Data Team (LDT) members to become confident consumers of research by developing healthy skepticism and discovering how to adapt finding into practice, team members get the opportunity to put their learning into practice. By conducting their own action research project in their respective settings, participants’ new knowledge and skills come to life.

By making a connection between professional learning & student success in the first of this year’s seminars, participants further develop their rationale for carrying out action research on the impact of professional development. In order to achieve this, participants take part in a number of activities to:

  • Explore the rationale for carrying out Professional development.

  • Build & solidify the foundation of the LEAD team into a network by getting to know each other & the respective organisation.

  • Revisit the process of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), including group norms.

By the end of the two day seminar, participants will have solidified their action research plan, including their chosen evidence; program of implementation; details of data collection & driving questions; their SIG; & their individual plan.

Instructional design


The two day seminar begins with connections to the all the work carried out leading to this year’s first focus of action research. The facilitator then introduces the agenda & the learning intentions, before introducing Robyn Jackson’s model of coaching and the four characteristics.

Warm Up: Wall of fame

Wall of fame: Participants are asked to walk around the room, looking at pictures of famous women from the 1920’s. They choose a woman they admire or one they would like to know more about. Then, in groups, they discuss why they admire the person and what they would like to know about them.

In groups, participants reflect on WHY we do Professional Development (PD) and what is good PD?

The facilitator connects the warm-up activity to professional learning before reviewing group norms.

Day 1: Activity 1 – self-assessment

Day 1: The topic of professional Development (PD) is explored in more detail. PD is defined and participants are presented with the three important characteristics of PD as well as the four principles of effective PD.

Activity 1 – self-assessment: Using Guskey and the learning forward standards as the main sources of information, participants are asked to individually choose the most and least effective models of PD from a list provided.

Activity 2 – t-charts

Day 1: After reviewing the morning’s learning, including ‘why do PD?’ And measuring its effectiveness, participants are invited to think about which models are used in their school boards.

Models of PD are explored further, with particular emphasis on training as an example.

Activity 2 – t-charts: In groups, participants are asked to create a chart for each of the models of PD, listing its working definition as well as its advantages and disadvantages. Each team presents their work to the group.

Activity 3 – bringing it all together

Day 1: Guskey’s five levels of evaluation are introduced and detailed. Following a brief presentation, participants are asked to reflect on evaluation in relation to PD.

Activity 3 – bringing it all together: Participants are asked to, in board teams, consider how PD is carried out in their respective boards. For any PD they are aware of, they are asked to chart: Implementation design, model of PD used, three characteristics & strength and weaknesses. Participants are asked what they know about site-based PD?

Day 2: Activity 4 – stock exchange

Day 2: Following a summary of key concepts covered on day 1, day 2’s focus is shifted to planning individual research projects, with the support of Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Activity 4 – stock exchange: On a post-it, participants write down their topic of inquiry and then shout it out to find others with similar topics to form a group. Group members are then asked to focus on why they chose a particular project and what the evidence is for it.

The objective & usefulness of SIGs are revisited and discussed as a group.

Activity 5 – Why Why Why protocol

Day 2: Connections: Jackson’s four part matrix is revisited before exploring specific rationales for participants’ chosen topics. The general idea of using protocols for professional learning is discussed.

Activity 5 – Why Why Why protocol: In order to identify the root cause of a problem or to solidify the decision to choose a particular intervention, participants are asked to use the why why why protocol in SIGs and present their findings to the group.

Reference is made to other protocols used to address a big question: Problem of practice and consultancy protocol.

Activity 6 – timeline

Participants begin working on their transfer plan in their board teams, making connections to the context of their board & considering how to ensure their project fits in with board plans and would be approved.

Activity 6 – timeline: In board teams, participants are invited to complete their transfer plans and share their main event on a whole group timeline on the wall.

The principle of ‘the end in mind’ is introduced to the LDT members.

Activity 7 – KAHOOT survey

Day 2: Goal-based scenarios. Participants are given time to build an understanding of the eight sections of professional learning (under the three main headings of praxis, human factors and general research) in a context conducive to sharing and common understanding.

Activity 7 – KAHOOT survey: participants establish their current level of knowledge and reflect on principles of self-assessment, goal-based scenarios and adult learning.

Looking ahead:

The January seminar will have a double focus. After spending more time examining Guskey’s five step evaluation model, participants will plan what data to collect during their action research.


Exit cards & Feedback forms for the two days. Participants are asked to comment on their ‘ah ha!’ moment, something they will apply & something they would like to do next time.