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The aim of this unit is to show you a way to improve your practice and that of the colleagues you work with. It is a unit which integrates practice, action, theory and research in a very practical way. The unit aims to relate to and be applied to your own practice and interests and draw upon the other units you have taken. The action research approach is very flexible and has been applied in a wide variety of contexts and to diverse issues; so it will almost certainly relate to your needs and interests.

The purpose of the content in this unit is to explain how action research can be effective as a means of improving practice and the quality of teaching and learning. After reading it you should have a clear idea of what action research is about, and how you could apply the idea to improve your own teaching practice, as well as other facets of the work of teachers, such as curriculum design and course evaluation.

The first part raises the question of what action research is and how it has become an accepted approach to both developing and improving courses and to research in education. Next, we describe how you plan an action research project and present some of the techniques that can be used to collect data for the project. We then give examples of some action research projects with the aim of stimulating your thinking about how you could use action research in your own work.

The examples mainly relate to the context of higher education and to teaching quality enhancement, as this is my background. However, you should easily be able to extrapolate to schools and other educational contexts. Hopefully it should also be apparent how action research can be applied to other aspects of practice as it is a powerful vehicle for educational change and leadership.

By making your teaching practice the subject of your research you can critically examine and modify it. The main difference between teaching per se and action research on teaching is that you will need to adopt a more systematic approach to making observations and keeping records than may presently be the case.

There is quite a large literature on action research including its theoretical underpinnings and historical development. Since the aim of this content is to assist you in getting started with action research, we present only a brief outline of the main theoretical ideas here. Those people who wish to pursue the theory further will find useful sources in the references.

The intention is to relate your practice, and what is taught to you through the content modules, through a series off activities and the assignments. The activities on the MyLO site give you a chance to discuss you, your practice and your ideas with fellow students and get feedback from me. This discussion and feedback can inform your assignments, which are related to the activities.

Summary 2020

Unit name Improving Teaching and Practice through Action Research
Unit code ESM708
Credit points 25
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Education
Discipline Education

Prof. David Kember

Level Postgraduate
Available as student elective? No
Breadth Unit? No


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Launceston Semester 2 Off-Campus International Domestic
Launceston Spring school (extended) Off-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

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Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Semester 2 13/7/2020 10/8/2020 18/10/2020 18/10/2020
Spring school (extended) 26/10/2020 18/11/2020 14/2/2021 14/2/2021

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (see withdrawal dates explained for more information).

About Census Dates



Band CSP Student Contribution Full Fee Paying (domestic) Field of Education
1 2020: $1,671.00 2020: $4,216.00 070303

Fees for next year will be published before the end of the year. The fees above only apply for the year shown.

Please note: international students should refer to this page to get an indicative course cost.





Teaching Pattern

Online: fully online with weekly readings and activities


AT1: Identification of an issue in your practice (15%);  AT2: Observation of the issue (25%);  AT3: Planning an action research project (60%) OR Reflection on and observation of your practice (60%)

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