Action Research in Education


Mary McAteer

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Research Methods in Education

    Each book in this series maps the territory of a key research approach or topic in order to help readers progress from beginner to advanced researcher:

    Each book aims to provide a definitive, market-leading overview and to present a blend of theory and practice with a critical edge. All titles in the series are written for Masters-level students anywhere and are intended to be useful to the many diverse constituencies interested in research on education and related areas.

    Titles in the series:

    Atkins & WallaceQualitative Research in Education
    Hamilton & Corbett-WhittierUsing Case Study in Education Research
    McAteerAction Research in Education
    Mills & MortonEthnography in Education

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    About the Author

    Mary McAteer has worked for over 30 years as a teacher, local authority consultant and educator, in a range of senior pastoral and curriculum roles. Since 1999 she has held posts as Senior Lecturer and Principal Lecturer, and programme lead for Master's Level Professional Development Programmes in two different universities. Her current post is Director of the Mathematics Specialist Teacher (MaST) programme in Edge Hill University, where she also has responsibility for teaching Research Methods and supervising doctoral students. Her passion for action research stems from her own postgraduate study both at Master's and Doctoral level, and has developed through supporting students through a range of action research studies.

    Recent publications include ‘Theory generative approaches in practitioner research’, in J. Adams, M. Cochrane and L. Dunne (eds) (2011) Applying Theory to Educational Research: An Introductory Approach with Case Studies, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, and McAteer, M. (ed) (2012) Improving Primary Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Berkshire: Open University Press.


    Grateful thanks are due to Kathryn Bromwich and all the team at Sage who have so patiently supported me through the writing of this book. Likewise, I wish to thank all at BERA involved in the commissioning of it and in providing initial feedback on the proposal. To all those reviewers who have provided feedback on early drafts, I wish also to express my grateful thanks.

    Throughout this book I have drawn on my experiences as an action research student, practitioner and tutor/supervisor. I have had the great fortune and privilege to work with a wide variety of colleagues in a number of universities, and an even wider range of students, on action research and other professional development programmes. Conversations, discussions and collaborations with all of them have been significant in enriching and shaping my own knowledge, beliefs and values.

    I was first introduced to the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) while a student at the University of Ulster. My grateful thanks are extended to my DPhil supervisor, Dr Barry Hutchinson, for supporting my thinking and putting me in touch with two such wonderful support networks. CARN, as a network dedicated to action research, has played a particularly big role for me, and one member in particular, Kath Green was both a supportive and challenging dear friend. Her passion for conversation and life stories, her sense of respect for all, her particular support for new conference presenters were a key part of the annual CARN conference. Described by colleagues as someone who ‘embodied the heart of CARN’ and who ‘treated life as an opportunity for learning’, she believed passionately that the simple act of raising questions can raise the level of discourse. Her life (1946–2007) represented a synthesis of intellect and emotion, and has left a quiet, gentle but powerful legacy to those who knew her. Chapter 5 is written in her memory and with grateful thanks for her influence. It is written in the hope that she would have approved, and in the knowledge that, had she not, then it would have provided fodder for a rich and enriching conversation and learning experience.

    The case studies in this book are derived from the following unpublished MSc Dissertations, University of Ulster:

    • McCay, M.B. (2003) Addressing Underachievement: Giving students a voice.
    • McGlinchey, M. (2002) Teachers for education, Education for teachers: Promoting a spirit of curiosity, inquiry and reflection in science, that touches teachers and pupils alike.
    • Wilson, R. (2003) How can I improve the quality of talk in my role play corner?
    • Vaughan, C. (2003) Parents as partners in the educational experiences of young children.
  • References

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    Action Research Websites
    British Educational Research Association (BERA),
    Centre for Collaborative Action Research at Pepperdine University,
    Centre for Practitioner Research at National-Louis University,
    Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN),
    Council of European Social Science Data Archives,
    Dick, B. (2000) ‘A beginner's guide to action research’. Available at:
    Teacher Action Research,
    Teaching and Learning Research Programme,

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