The present (6th) issue of the e-journal Action Researcher in Education (September 2015), through the eight articles it includes, focuses on the crucial role of educational action research in shaping the school culture and in the emergence of the voice of those who participate in educational practice (that is teachers and pupils). It also highlights the similarities of the educational problems that emerge not only in different educational contexts in Greece, but also in different countries. This issue also includes two reviews of books relevant to action research that are recently published in Greek.
The first three articles concern educational intervention programs that focus on strengthening the role of students at school and the opening of the school in the local community.
Katsenou, Flogaitis and Liarakou in their article The contribution of action research to the active participation of pupils refer to the prospects from the use of action research in changing school culture through active participation of the pupils, citing the example of a primary school in Lavrio (Attiki, Greece) which followed the principles of Education for Environment and Sustainability. Designing and implementing an educational program, the authors explored the extent to which the open, flexible and interactive communication developed during the action research supports the conscious activation of pupils in the school setting and the community in a sustainable school that acts as a dynamic learning organization. So the authors highlight the prospects created in an action research context, as bridges are built between the school and the community.
The article entitled The contribution of the action research method to a museum exhibition on migration with preschool and school age pupils as co-researchers by M. Vlachaki & K. Magos focuses on the contribution of action research in museum education. The authors present research data drawn from contemporary migrants’ life stories in a museum environment as exhibits and educational material. The aim of their intervention was to make the participants change their negative attitudes to ethno-cultural "other". Besides, the authors discuss the contribution of the action research both in the communication between the museum and the local community and also in strengthening the role of pupils in the change to a multicultural social environment.
The article written by M. Gerouki and E. Micheloudaki with the title Stopping violence to become bullying – An action research case on how to deal with bullying at school presents an intervention that aimed at stopping violence at school. The authors first present the way they designed and implemented their educational intervention. Based on research data the authors collected from questionnaires completed by pupils who participated in this intervention conclude that such procedures contribute to improving the climate in the school through the mitigation of violence and conflict and develop a sense of security to all pupils.
The next three articles refer to the co-operation of teachers with outside researchers and academics on issues that concern alternative teaching practices. In an action research framework the co-operation between the School and the University can be proved very fruitful.
Athman Kyaruzi Ahmad, Sigrid Marie Gjøtterud and Erling Krogh in their article «Exploring possibilities for contextualizing primary school education in rural Tanzania following a participatory action research approach» discuss their experience from their participation in an action research project that aimed to develop and support procedures that use the lived experience in teaching in primary schools of rural areas in Tanzania. The authors present the difficulties they faced in such a difficult field, both in terms of local conditions and the administrative culture of education in this context, but also the processes through which they tried to tackle the problems that emerged. So they focus on their intervention in the specific socio-cultural conditions and the requirements that are necessary for the successful project development: flexibility, openness and use of alternative approaches. In summary, the authors suggest the use of such programs in teacher education in Tanzania considering the collaborative practices as a means of investigation and improvement of educational practice.
In their article The active involvement of teachers in action research for differentiation of the teaching-learning process: understanding the needs of students and weaknesses of the curriculum Th. Erotocritou Stavrou and M. Koutselini present a participatory action research that examines teachers’ involvement in differentiated teaching and learning strategies in mixed ability classrooms. This is the description of the intervention of a group of teachers, who - in collaboration with the University- organized an educational program to improve the reading skills and the comprehension of their students. The authors present the problems that arise during the implementation of the principles of diversification, the ways in which teachers, through individual and collective reflection, both realized and revised their false assumptions for learning and were also strengthened by developing procedures that could meet the needs of their students and help them to handle the weaknesses of the curriculum.
An action research program to improve the teaching of writing in diverse classrooms is presented by Denise Patmon, Richard L. Freed and Josh Katzman in their article «Teacher Research and the Teaching of Writing in Urban High School Classrooms in the U.S.». The authors focus on the potential of action research to formulate and investigate questions highlighted by teachers themselves on the teaching of writing in diverse classrooms. They present the educational program, its design and basic principles, the use of Face Theory in reflection of teachers, citing examples from the teaching of Latin and the use of personal narratives in teaching English. Particular reference is made to the contribution of the action research program to the improvement of educational practice and to the creation of a professional community of learning.
In the last two articles of the 6th issue two empirical studies are presented. The first concerns the implementation of an intervention program in Kindergarten and explores its effectiveness and the second discusses the issue of the professional identity of the Greek teacher.
S. Manesi in her article «Exploring Early Years Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices About Shared Reading: A Mixed Methods Approach» refers to the development of emergent literacy skills in kindergarten through reading stories. Following a mixed methodology, quantitative while using questionnaire and qualitative through semi-structured interviews, the researcher explores the use of reading stories from preschool teachers in order to enrich shared reading and create a warm and supportive shared-reading climate.
Α. Papaoikonomou’s article Professional maturity of Greek teacher: Empirical approach deals with the professional maturity of Greek teacher. This research is based on the factors of professional maturity as they are presented by Super. The analysis shows that the Greek teacher has had from an early age the predisposition to occupy himself/ herself with his/her profession, a fact that signals his/her high self-esteem that was expected to be obtained by his/her profession.
Eleni Katsarou, Assistant Professor, University of Crete
Vassilis Tsafos, Assistant Professor, University of Athens.