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3 Introducing innovation through action research in an Australian national programme: experiences and insights Anne Burns and Emily Edwards Introduction Action research (AR) is seen by its advocates as a means of empowering teachers and enabling them to acquire deeper insights and understanding about their practices. At the heart of these claims is the notion of educational change and innovation occurring through a systematic approach that integrates classroom action, research and reflection. We argue that AR, when instituted systematically into an educational sector and facilitated progressively and incrementally over sustained periods of time, can have a substantial impact on teacher participants, their schools and centres, and the sector as a whole. We also suggest that, from a teacher researcher perspective, involvement in such a project can greatly enhance teaching, develop practices of systematic enquiry, and facilitate entry into and active participation in the ‘world of research’. Against this background, we describe the introduction of a professional development innovation, the Action Research in ELICOS Program, into the Australian English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector by its professional body, English Australia, and evaluate its impact over the four years of its operation. This initiative was seen as a way to address a key strategic goal of English Australia to facilitate high levels of professional practice by ELICOS teachers and to enable teachers to be integrated into this process nationally. Thus, it constitutes both top-down and bottom-up continuing professional development (CPD). In this vein, the chapter is co-authored by the programme facilitator (Anne Burns) and a teacher who participated in 2012 (Emily Edwards), in order to provide both macro (sectororiented) and micro (individual) perspectives on the innovation and its impact. The discussion first considers the processes and structures developed to introduce the programme. It focuses in particular on the piloting of the programme in the first year (2010) and the responses of teachers and other stakeholders, and then outlines how the innovation has been sustained. The programme’s impact on the sector as a whole is also evaluated. Then, to further illustrate its impact on individual ELICOS teachers and their teaching practices, the chapter includes an account of a previously

Introducing innovation through action research in an Australian national programme |


Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  
Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...