Academic journal article Physical Educator

Action Research as an Agent for Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Physical Education: A Physical Education Teacher's Perspective

Academic journal article Physical Educator

Action Research as an Agent for Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Physical Education: A Physical Education Teacher's Perspective

Article excerpt

The term action research was first coined by Lewin (1946). He described it as a spiral of steps, which comprised planning, action, observation, reflection, and fact finding about the results of that action. It was originally designed for investigation of social issues, but educationalists have adapted much from it. It has been found to be particularly useful for teachers completing class-based research. Wood (2009) stated, "Action research allowed anybody interested in improving their educational situations to become a knowledge-creator, thereby generating epistemologies and theories that were more likely to be workable, relevant and contribute to sustainable change than more traditional approaches to research" (p. 116). It has been described as a practical way of looking at your own work to check that it is as you would like it to be and has been described as a form of self-reflective practice (Brydon-Miller & Maguire, 2009; McNiff, 2002). It provides a fertile source of new ideas for practice and praxis (sayings), new ways of doing things (doing), and new relationships between those involved (relating; Kemmis, 2010).

Action Research and Physical Education

Over 20 years ago, Kirk (1995) argued that action research had the potential to bring about educational reform. He believed that physical education was a subject for which action research could be beneficial because it incorporates a concern for more effective teaching and learning, deepening and broadening teachers' understanding of their work, and this may lead to better forms of physical education. Much has been written about the need for physical education teachers to be more reflective about their practice through action research, yet despite this, in Europe less research has been carried out in this area (Casey, Dyson, & Campbell, 2009). Gubacs-Collins (2007) in the United States optimistically found that change was happening and that the emphasis on action research was gradually increasing in physical education.

Basic Principles of Action Research: A Spiral Approach

In adopting action research, initially I was the central focus of my inquiry (Whitehead & McNiff, 2006). To achieve my aim of improving the teaching and learning in my lessons, I needed to reflect on my practice and decide on what was important to me. Action research is a flexible approach that allows for continual adaptations and incremental changes to be made as an intervention progresses. From researching the literature, I established a process for implementing action research including the following steps:

1. Review current practice (McNiff, 2010; Bassey, 1998; Casbon &Walters, 2004).

2. Identify an area to be improved (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

3. Imagine a way forward (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

4. Try it out (Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

5. Monitor the action and evaluate its success (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

6. Continue using the action if it is successful (Bassey, 1998; McNiff, 2010).

7. Try another option if it was not (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

8. Evaluate the new practice (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

9. Modify the ideas and practices in light of the evaluation (Bassey, 1998; Casbon & Walters, 2004; McNiff, 2010).

Uis spiral process of reflection and action is rigorously pursued in all action research projects.

Benefits of Action Research

Three main benefits of using action research were identified in the literature: (a) its contribution to the professional development of the teacher, (b) its capacity to generate knowledge and new practices, and (c) the value of the teacher or researcher being part of the research.

Contribution of Action Research to the Professional Development of the Teacher

Action research can make a significant contribution to the professional development of the teacher or researcher (Jaipal & Figg, 2011; Van Looy & Goegebeur, 2007). …

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