Action research and reflective practice: towards a holistic view

Ruth Leitch, C.W. Day

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    168 Citations (Scopus)


    Two concepts that have captured the imagination of the educational community in the last 60 years have been those of ‘reflective practice’ and ‘action research’. Both, in their various forms, are considered to be critical dimensions of the professional development of teachers. However, whilst both were receiving academic attention during the 1930s and 1940s (Lewin, 1934, cited in Adelman, 1993; Lewin, 1946; Dewey, 1933), it was not until Stenhouse’s (1975) notion of the teacher-as-researcher that the two came most compellingly into relationship and educational action research as a process, which held at its centre different kinds of reflection, began to be reformulated in Britain (Carr, 1993). This article considers the important part played in teachers’ development by different kinds of action research. Its central thesis is that, although action research has a critical role to play not least as a means of building the capacity of teachers as researchers of their own practice, there has been insufficient attention given to both the nature of reflection in the action research process, and its relationship to the purposes, processes and outcomes. The article challenges the rational, cognitive models of reflection that are implicit in much of the action research literature. It suggests that more attention needs to be given to the importance of the role of emotion in understanding and developing the capacities for reflection which facilitates personal, professional and ultimately system change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-193
    Number of pages15
    JournalEducational Action Research
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


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