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Practical Principles for Exploratory Action Research

Plenary talk by Richard Smith at IATEFL Research SIG / Gediz University International Conference, ‘Teacher-Researchers in Action’, Izmir, Turkey, June 2014.

Richard Smith plenary

Audio-recording

Powerpoint slides

See also associated book chapter: details further below

Abstract of talk

In this talk I share some insights which have both informed and been derived from my recent experiences supporting teachers’ research in Chile, Cameroon and Nepal. Specifically, I explain and illustrate some practical principles which have emerged from these experiences, as well as from my previous work with pre-service teachers, and from my own teaching and teacher-researching experiences. My account of emerging practical principles will include highlighting the value of:

  • · Teachers sharing success stories
  • · Seeking initial answers through discussion
  • · Explicitly countering positivistic preconceptions
  • · Taking time for exploration before new action
  • · Peer-to-peer and near-peer support
  • · Informal reporting – speaking before writing

The specific relevance of these principles to teachers working in difficult circumstances (large-class, low-resource contexts, etc.) will be discussed, but I will argue that most of the principles are also relevant to teachers working in more ‘favourable’ situations.

Later, adapted write-up:

Smith, R. 2015. ‘Exploratory action research: why, what, and where from?’ In Dikilitas, K., Smith, R. and Trotman, W (eds). Teacher-researchers in Action. Faversham: IATEFL, Chapter 3 (pp. 37-45).