Master of Education (Honours)
Faculty of Edcucation
Allen, Dianne, Contributing to learning to change: developing an action learning peer support group of professionals to investigate ways of improving their own professional practice , M. Ed. thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, 2004. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/288
Learning to change is difficult, complex, and takes time. This raises two questions for me: Why is this so? How can such learning to change be facilitated? This study explores the issues involved in learning to change. It undertakes the study from a viewpoint which values having an explanatory conceptual understanding (theory) that will inform action (practice), both for learners seeking to engage with change for their own practice, and for a facilitator of such learning with others. My first focus was on testing the efficacy of a professional development activity. The design for the activity was based on my conception of reflective research of practice, developed from the work of Kenneth Kressel, and what would be involved in developing such an approach to learning about practice, in-practice. My testing involved two processes: (1) exploring whether the professional development activity, when used with two different groups of professionals, encouraged them to engage in such an approach in their own practice; (2) engaging with my own practitioner experience and comparing my theorising about the experience with that reported in the literature. Consequently, I have at least two stories to tell. And I share these stories on the basis of one of my findings: sharing reflective stories prompts reciprocal sharing, and shared reflective thinking may challenge perspectives and perceptions, triggering additional learning. Practitioners, by engaging with these stories and using their own active compare-and-contrast, and their own values, may be stimulated to undertake further thinking about their own practice, and its rationale. From such a process may come ideas for change which they are prepared to try in-practice; or a deeper, firmer understanding of why they value their own approach over this other. Either result tends to revitalise intentional action in-practice. The first story concerns the outcome of conducting the professional development activity design with two groups of professionals: the outcomes of the activity, while not reaching my intended target, indicate the design�s merit. The second story concerns the change wrought in myself by the conduct of the inquiry: the first focus on testing the efficacy of a professional development activity shifted to the progressive deepening of my understanding of the theories and practice of � learning to change, for an adult learner � inquiry, especially inquiry into practice issues, in-practice � evaluation, by beginning to enunciate how, and on what basis I was evaluating, and � the nature of the relationship between learning, inquiry, and evaluation that constitutes much of intentional action in-practice: its intricate interactivity. In developing my understanding of theory and practice, I draw on the work of scholar-practitioners who have a longstanding engagement with the field, including Argyris, Bateson, Heron, Mezirow and Sch�n. I conclude that reflective research of practice, or self-study of practice for improvement of practice, can be enhanced. Tools that enhance it include: (1) developing self-awareness; (2) developing reflective work to move progressively into the subtle and the contextual elements of practice; and where possible (3) engaging in this enterprise with a group of peers in a collaborative or cooperative context (4) where participants are focused on taking intentional action developed from inquiry into the thinking-action complex of in-practice activities.