EDUCATION ACTION RESEARCH IN HIGHER EDUCATION AS FACULTY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Open Access
Author:
Mattes, Bilita Searls
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Degree:
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 12, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Dissertation Advisor
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Committee Chair
  • Edward W Taylor, Committee Member
  • Ernest Dishner, Committee Member
  • Denise Gaspari Meister, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • faculty development
  • action research
  • education action research
  • higher education
  • adult learning
Abstract:
The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to experiment with an integrated, holistic, personalized, and more informal approach to faculty development. This research engaged untenured faculty in a teaching institution of higher education, and from disciplines outside of Education, as adult learners in education action research and peer-led discussions focused on the professional development of their individual teaching practice. Then, the professional development process for each participant and the group was analyzed through the lenses of constructivism and transformative learning theory. It was found that participants did reflect on their practice and engage in their own professional development through education action research, combined with peer-led discussion, and that some changes to thinking and teaching approaches did manifest themselves in the practices of some participants. It is inconclusive, however, if their engagement in this research will be a step toward developing a critically reflective practice over time. Other findings are that: (a) participants in this study, in spite of their status as newer faculty members, are motivated to develop their teaching practice; (b) engaging these participants through education action research served to introduce many of them to new approaches to teaching and to research; (c) participants lacked formal educational preparation and found value in focusing (and reflecting) on their teaching practice; (d) participants found unique value in their peer-based discussions as a part of their professional development; (e) this approach to professional development requires rethinking faculty development and the role of the faculty developer; (f) and in practice, constructivism and transformative learning theory are useful lenses and goals for professional development of faculty.