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Action Enquiry

Project Director: Bronwen Cowie
Research Team: Anne McKim and Noeline Wright

Project Dates: 2009 - 2010

In 2009 researchers from WMIER began working in collaboration with vocational tutors from a range of Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) to support the tutors to research their practice in embedding literacy and numeracy in their teaching.

In 2010 eleven literacy and numeracy projects, designed by small teams of vocational tutors and other educators in New Zealand ITPs, were successfully carried out as part of a nation-wide Action Enquiry Professional Development project. The overarching project was commissioned by the Department of Labour and the Tertiary Education Commission The purpose of the project was to trial action enquiry (AE) as a model of professional development for tutors who are embedding literacy and numeracy in vocational programmes in their ITPs. Another purpose was to increase understanding of the processes of embedding literacy and numeracy into vocational programmes.

Participants worked in small teams in their institutions, beginning their projects with a day-long workshop on action enquiry at the University of Waikato and completing them at a final session at the University of Waikato. Ongoing support was provided by the WMIER researchers over the period the action enquiries were carried out. Most of the participating tutors had little or no previous research experience, however they found action enquiry a relevant and manageable research process, They were keen to share their action enquiry experiences.

A selection of the case studies the tutor practitioner researchers produced is shared below.

  1. Supporting success in hairdressing programmes: using an embedded literacy approach to enhance student performance in written assessment. (Universal College of Learning)
  2. Exploring and evaluating strategies to help students manage the reading demands of course material in a Basic Mechanical Engineering Trades Skills (BMETS) programme. (Otago Polytechnic)
  3. Exploring the effectiveness of communities of practice for sustainability in the post cluster environment. Carpentry and horticulture programmes were the specific focus here. (Manukau Institute of Technology)
  4. Action enquiry - Case study from the Department of Corrections.
  5. Teaching engineering trade mathematics. (Department of Corrections.
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