This paper explores the challenges and opportunities in undertaking collaborative action research with a diverse range of largely community-based Adult and Community Education (ACE) practitioners. ACE in Aotearoa New Zealand is currently the focus of a government-funded, sector-wide initiative aimed at enhancing professional development opportunities for practitioners, who work in a wide range of settings, urban and rural, and under the considerable constraints of funding and time. The aim of the initiative (Tertiary Education Commission, 2006) is to improve learner outcomes by increasing the effectiveness of teaching and learning in ACE. One of the TEC's four key strategies is to assist the development of an infrastructure for ongoing ACE professional development, and to strengthen the sector as a whole, by encouraging existing networks of practitioners to adopt a 'community of practice' (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002) approach to professional development and capability building. Responsibility for supporting the achievement of this outcome was given to a small team of university-based ACE practitioner-researchers who undertook a 12-month project with six ACE networks, located in diverse regions of Aotearoa New Zealand. Their study used a participatory action research methodology (Cardno, 2003; Reason and Bradbury, 2001) to collaborate with network members in exploring different individual and group professional development needs and evaluating the effectiveness of various approaches. The paper describes the process of the research and some of the lessons it offered - for practitioners, researchers and policy makers.
|Keywords:||Adult Education, Adult Educators, Community Education, Adult and Community Education, Professional Development, Communities of Practice, Participatory Action Research|
Senior Lecturer in Adult and Community Education, UC Opportunity, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Manager, Community Education, UC Opportunity, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
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