Changing Self-definitions: The Agency of Action Research for Teachers

Jim Parsons
Professor, Department of Secondary Education, University of Alberta, Canada

Abstract: This article makes a case that teachers who engage in site-based action research become more efficacious leaders. Based upon his twelve years as Director of the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement at the University of Alberta, the author considers the impact of teachers’ work as site-based researchers on their personal growth, their self-definition as educational researchers, and their increased sense of agency gained from designing and conducting research. The article’s theoretical framework centers upon the theoretical work of Walker Percy to explore the ideas of engaged experience (in this case site-based action research) vs. “packaged” experiences (the study of others’ research and the attempt to apply the findings of their research to one’s own site). The author makes a case that working to solve personal and real on-site problems using action research can edify the entire community.

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