Teachers are the most important resources of an educational institution. And the most important requirement for achieving academic excellence by an institution is to ensure that teacher continue to learn. It is this continuous process of improving teaching practices that is known as professional development for teachers. It can enable teachers to identify and solve problems and to establish a connection between educational theory, practice and student outcomes. Continuous professional development enables teacher to prepare students to meet changing socio-economic demands of society and to shoulder responsibilities of citizenship and work.
Corr and Kemmis (1986) explained the importance of action research for professional growth of teachers by showing how action research incorporates the feature of the teaching profession. They held that action research suggests an image of the teaching profession which incorporates these features in a distinctive manner.
1. Action research provides a method for testing and improving educational practices, and basing the practices and procedures of teaching on theoretical knowledge and research organised by professional teachers. It provides a means by which teachers can organise themselves as communities of enquiries, organising their own enlightenment. This is a uniquely educational task- emancipatory action research is itself an educational process. It thus posses the challenge to teachers that they organise the educational processes in their own classrooms on the same basis as their own professional development through critical self-reflection. Emancipatory action research provides an approach through which the development of a theoretical and research base for professional practice can be accomplished.
2. According to Carr and Kemmis, in the case of the teaching profession, its commitment to the well-being of its clients can be ensured when schools can be made to play a critical role instead of playing a ‘transmitter’ role which leads them uncritically to reproduce the social, political and economic relations of the status quo. Action research, according to them, is one way in which the profession’s commitment to the well-being of its clients can be critically analysed and extended.
If the educational profession is to have a right to make judgements
about its practices, its members must develop their professional
practices on the basis of a distinctively educational science.
Action research can serve the purpose of professional development of teachers while viewed from a variety of perspectives.
1. Collection of data by teachers on their own work in order to conduct action research, help them to gain insight and understanding of their profession leading to continuous growth and development.
2. reflection on the findings of action research done by teachers help them to develop greater mastery over the act of teaching. Teachers engaged in action research make continuous improvements in developing their power as reflective practitioner.
3. Action research helps teacher to understand their practice more fully with a view to improving it which is vital for professional growth.
Findings of action research help one to understand and evaluate one’s
work and change it as and when necessary.
5. Since action research is a participatory process, teachers can learn from each other and grow in their professional work collectively.
6. Action research may empower teachers with better understanding of the profession, better skills and knowledge that help in improvement of teaching.
7. Action research enables teachers to fulfil their professional responsibility of independent and confident decision making.
8. Action research conducted to investigate different areas of teaching and learning by individual teacher researchers and sharing the findings with the rest of the school community allows an entire faculty to develop professionally.
Unlike traditional professional development programmes that are based
on teaching of subject knowledge, professional development through
action research is based on self-learning and practice, which is more
10. Action research can improve teachers’ problems solving skills and their attitudes towards professional development, and increase their confidence and professional self-esteem.
11. Action research give teachers a real voice in their own professional development, as opposed to being told by others as to what is needed.
Thus, it can be seen that action research is an important means of continuing professional development and lifelong learning. Literature in the field shows that action research often helps teachers to become more confident and knowledgeable. Action research provides a sense of contentment and also has significant boost to the morals of teachers to deal with the students more confidently and to promote their learning. The habits and skills of inquiry, objectivity and reflection that teachers acquire as a result of their engagement in action research extend beyond the research process and positively influence their professional growth and development.