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Secondary ITE
(Professional learning through research, reflection and praxis)
Welcome to the Active Inquiry Module as part of the Secondary ITE programmes.
An important part of becoming a reflective, creative and effective practitioner is developing the ability for critical thinking and learning. This involves synthesising knowledge and experience gained from classroom practice, and reflecting on it in the context of theoretical frameworks underpinning practice. To do that effectively one needs to develop the appropriate research skills for active classroom inquiry. In this module you will construct a classroom intervention as your research practice and evaluate your professional learning. To do this you will unite theory and practice together in your teaching and also in the assignment write-up – what we refer to as ‘praxis’.
Our aim in this programme has been to develop lifelong learners and reflective practitioners who take a critical professional approach to their teaching and learning, have the ability and willingness to engage in experimentation and reflection, and use the learning that ensues to develop excellence in practice. This assignment provides you with the opportunity to put your theoretical understanding into practice by devising and carrying out a small scale piece of action research, or as we call it, ‘active inquiry’. You will have the opportunity to delve deeper into an area of teaching and learning and in the process develop further strategies for professional learning and development.
1) Proposal and ethics form (formative)
A research proposal (see the formative assessment note below) and ethics checklist. You will identify the area for your inquiry, why you have chosen it and what you hope to learn from it. You will also briefly outline the research/theoretical framework supporting your practice, and the methodology you intend to use, taking into account practical and ethical considerations. The proposal must be approved by your tutor before you carry out your research.
THIS HAS ALREADY BEEN COMPLETED AND APPROVED (attached in documents) – the below is what is ordered required.
2) Written Report (summative) 4000 words (1000 words poster (notional word count), 3000 words written reflection plus the formative proposal form)
A report on the inquiry and its outcomes also including a poster presentation to disseminate your findings to colleagues.
This report will be a reflection on your learning while undertaking the active inquiry. During your write-up for this assignment you will have the opportunity to discuss and present your ideas and findings to staff at UEL and to your peers and colleagues. This engagement with others is a central feature of much ‘action research’ and this dissemination of your findings will take the form of a formal poster presentation. This is seen to represent a notional 1000 words of the assessment and informs the reflective writing you undertake for the report itself. The format of the report is flexible but it must include:
• a review of the theoretical framework you outlined in your proposal
• a justification of your aims and objectives
• a description of the methods you used
• a presentation of your data/findings with a discussion of what they tell you
• a discussion of the outcomes of your inquiry with appropriate conclusions.
At the very end of your report we would like you to reflect on the significance of this inquiry and intervention for your future practice. We would also like this communicated to your peers/audience through your formal poster presentation.
3) Targets – You will need to end your report with targets for continued professional development based upon the research inquiry undertaken (500 words)
Total number of words: 4500
Learning Outcomes to be addressed: 1- 6
It is important to understand that your portfolio is assessed as one piece of work. The segments combined must demonstrate achievement of the module assessment criteria and must avoid repetition.
We strongly suggest that you try to submit all coursework by the deadline set as meeting deadlines will be expected in employment. However, in our new regulations, UEL has permitted students to be able to submit their coursework up to 24 hours after the deadline. The deadline is published in this module guide. Coursework which is submitted late, but within 24 hours of the deadline, will be assessed but subjected to a fixed penalty of 5% of the total marks available (as opposed to marks obtained). Please note that we will accept your first submission only, if you then improve your work and submit it again within 24 hours of the deadline, your second submission won’t be marked. Refer to appendix c for further information.
TASK What is ‘action research’?
Before we go anything, let us consider some definitions of what we mean when we say ‘action research’.
We call this module an ‘active inquiry’ to make the point that you are a researcher – as a teacher, engaged in your own professional practice, you are both ‘doing’ and ‘knowing’: you are carrying out experiment and intervention and then seeking answers to change practice. This method of inquiry (asking and then answering questions to move forward) is essential for your development as a teacher. Writing this up and turning it formally into a research report makes it what we call ‘action research’. Consider the definitions in the page below.
• Definitions of action researchPage
The following are a series of well-known definitions on the nature of ‘action research’. Read each one and summarise what you think these are telling you about the nature of this practice.

TASK Taking it further
Now you have seen some examples of definitions of ‘action research’ consider the document provided by Jean McNiff in the link below. This is a brief guide for teachers on what action research is, written (and available to download for free) by a leading exponent in the field. This is a MUST.

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