Classroom action research and teacher development
Action research is one of the educational research paradigms which, according to educational literature, seem to be winning the hearts of many educationists. It is a research approach which is increasingly becoming valued in in-service teacher education. Success in implementing action research in education has been recorded from some of the large scale projects done in developed countries, usually involving many participants and lasting for long periods of time. But there is no evidence to suggest that strategies used in these projects could be replicated without adaptation in developing countries like Tanzania. This study was carried out in Pakistan, a developing country, in which the socio-economic and educational situations are different from countries where those projects were carried out. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to determine the dynamics involved in introducing, facilitating and institutionalizing educational action research in schools in a developing country through the mentoring process. Two teachers - one from primary and the other from secondary sections of Aga Khan Educational Services (AKES) (Pakistan) schools in Karachi city were involved in the study. The teachers were inquiring about their teaching practice and I, as a second order researcher, was studying teachers in the process of doing research while at the same time inquiring into my own process of mentoring. Teachers were given the freedom to innovate, decide and act according to their understanding, experience and the situation in which their practice was conducted. In this process I was a facilitator providing moral and technical support. In spite of problems and constraints that teachers faced in doing action research (including their lack of research skills, poor pedagogical content knowledge and problems related to institutional pressures) the study has revealed some promising insights into the possibility for teachers being involved in doing action research in their classrooms. However, in order to be able to do it, according to the study, teachers need to be provided with appropriate environments, which include professional freedom to explore.