Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Cycles Within Cycles: Three Minutes Thesis Presenatation

Three years ago, I presented the first findings of my PhD research in a Three Minutes Thesis competition at the Faculty of Education, Monash University. 

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “research” in education? Well! Most research in education is done on teachers, students and schools by experienced outside researchers. However, the kind of research carried out by teachers on themselves to improve their teaching practices is called action research. Action research is a cyclical process that begins with identifying an area of focus, planning an action for change, implementing the action, observing, and recording data, and reflecting on the effect of the action. This process continues until the teacher is satisfied with the results. Most teachers in western countries follow this cyclical and forward-moving process.

Recently, there has been a growing interest in action research in Bhutan, a small developing, Buddhist country in South Asia, as a tool to raise teaching quality and the quality of education. However, the questions are: Is action research relevant for Bhutanese teachers? How would Bhutanese teachers conduct the process of action research? What factors influence the way they conduct action research? My study aimed at answering these questions. To answer the questions, I focused on two case study schools where three secondary science teachers conducted their first-ever action research. I observed how they followed the process and recorded their experience through interviews and reflective diaries. 

After that, I had some answers. I discovered that the teachers faced several challenges within their school such as time constraints, the burden of covering the heavy science curriculum and unsupportive school leaders. Hence, I concluded that both school contexts were not favourable for conducting action research. In addition, I noticed that unlike the cyclical and forward-moving pathway of action research, Bhutanese teachers moved back and forth between the stages and travelled deep within each stage, creating circles within the circles pattern of a pathway or what I call action research within action research. 

Such findings suggested a need to improve the school context and put a new model in place. Therefore, my study will be proposing a new action research model for Bhutanese science teachers. I am hopeful that the model will help the science teachers in Bhutan to conduct action research confidently, enhance their teaching quality, raise the quality of science education and, more broadly, contribute towards achieving the UN sustainable development goal of providing quality education for all.