This is A PhD Dissertation Written by Carlyn Sproston at Australian Catholic University in 2005.
This action research study examines the learning experiences of Year 8 students and their teacher as they negotiate aspects of their English classes. The study takes place in a regional Catholic co-educational secondary college in Victoria, Australia. The question of understanding the lived experience of ourselves and other is fundamental to this study, which is situated within an holistic, enactivist view of the world. From this perspective learning is a shared activity in which students participate in creating their own interpretation as they interact with others to bring forth understanding. The study focuses on classroom practice which aims to include all participants, through negotiation, in the actions that take place in the classroom. I have used a narrative approach to describe the way in which three action research cycles were implemented in the English classroom during one academic year. A variety of data gathering techniques was used and these included: classroom questionnaires, classroom meetings, journals, partnership observation and interviews. The main sources of data were the interviews that I undertook with each of the twenty five students in the class. The three action research cycles allowed both the students and me to reflect upon classroom activities and make appropriate changes as the cycles progressed. In addition, negotiating in this English class has helped me to better understand my students and, through reflection, to improve my teaching practice. Analysis of the data suggests that students experience greater commitment and motivation when they are given opportunities to be actively involved in contributing to their own learning. The data also supports research that recognises the importance of collaboration, positive relationships within the classroom, the importance of metacognitive skills and student voice. In addition, the findings point to the value of action research as a method of improving teaching practice.