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Unit information: Professional Development through Collaborative Working on Issues in Education in 2015/16

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Unit name Professional Development through Collaborative Working on Issues in Education
Unit code EDUCM5307
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Ms. Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit involves participants identifying an issue in education to investigate through an action research process with support from a university tutor and a collaborative group of other students. Students will engage in collaborative reflection on issues that have educational and practical implications. These may be subject specific with a group of Newly Qualified Teachers in a single subject area or part of a school based professional development initiative such as Leading in Learning groupings within a school. Students will be encouraged to reflect in terms of theory, policy and research as well as on their practice.

This unit is designed for flexibility of structure, delivery and assessment to meet the needs of the cohort who are both Masters students and members of school-based action research groups


The unit aims to:

  • Develop skills of action research in education
  • Enable students to carry out an individual school-based action research project on an issue in education.
  • Encourage students to work as part of a collaborative group on the range of issues within the group.
  • Encourage reflection on effective ways of working in such a group.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After taking this unit, the student should demonstrate that they:

  • have knowledge of a range of important issues related to action research in education
  • have carried out an investigation into an issue in education over two terms, developing skills in action research
  • have developed as a reflective practitioner
  • have developed collaborative group skills such as peer review and mentoring.

Teaching Information

The part-time students will be teachers in local schools. Teaching will predominantly be through supportive group seminars with whole group discussion in early sessions on how to approach, monitor and evaluate stages of the action research process. Students will conduct fieldwork relevant to their chosen action research project. Associated activities will be specified such as the keeping of a research diary to support participants in identifying their issue to be worked on as part of the process of action research with reflection and discussion.

In university-based sessions members of the group will:

  • negotiate a programme of inputs targeted to their needs
  • share their current thinking with the wider group for critical comments as their individual work develops.

Assessment Information

A portfolio of:

  • reflective writings (or electronic equivalent) showing the development of thinking with respect to the issue over time
  • reflective writings or (electronic equivalent) showing the contributions of the collaborative group
  • reports of small-scale research projects
  • reports of implementation of teaching strategies to tackle the issue and evaluation.

The assignment can be presented as the set of these formative papers written over the two terms documenting development and reflection (totalling 4,000 words) or be presented as a continuous piece of summative reflective writing of about 4,000 words.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Reading and References

Educational Action Research.

International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

Altrichter, H, Posch, P & Somekh, B (1993) Teachers Investigate their Work: An Introduction to the Methods of Action Research, Routledge.

Brown, A & Dowling, P (1998) Doing Research/Reading Research, a Mode of Interrogation for Education, Falmer.

Elliott, J (1991) Action Research for Educational Change, Open University Press.

McNiff, J. (2002) Action Research: principles and practice. London:Routledge Falmer.