Inquiry project applications - 2002/2003


Application deadline : September 13, 2002

Subject: ADULT EDUCATION INQUIRY PROJECTS

Inquiry project applications - 2002/2003

Application deadline: September 13, 2002

A new series of action research/inquiry projects will begin in October, 2002 and continue through June, 2003. This work utilizes observation, reflection and sharing with colleagues in order to carry out systematic, intentional, field-based inquiry into daily practices, and also as a form of personal professional development. Its larger goals include supporting and disseminating practitioner knowledge and creating positive change in adult education practice.

Funds are available to support up to twelve (12) separate projects at a cost of $700 each. While practitioners are encouraged to identify areas of interest to themselves, priority will be given to projects in the areas of English Language/Civics, standards-based instruction (including the RI state draft standards), and particularly to practitioners working in collaboration with a partner or team. To learn more about current thinking in the areas of EL/Civics or standards-based instructions, please see :

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Swearer_Center/Literacy_Resources/elcivics.html

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Swearer_Center/Literacy_Resources/standards.html

To apply to participate in the process, please respond to the two questions below, complete the form below [copy and paste it into an email message, and/or as a word document] and return it (via email [janet_isserlis@brown.edu ] or snail mail to Janet Isserlis, PO Box 1974, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

Applicants will be notified by September 30, 2002, and an initial meeting of all inquiry project participants will be held at a time to be determined by the group.

What's your interest? What do you want to explore?

Please describe the area you are hoping to explore through the inquiry process. While we do not ask that your specific question be formed at this point, we want to know what your thinking is ­ what are you hoping to explore and learn about your practice? What has led you to focus on this particular issue/area? What do you think you might accomplish as a result of participating in this process?

Who can help?

With whom, if anyone, do you plan to collaborate on this project?


You don't need to address the following questions at this time, but they may be helpful to you in thinking about the kinds of projects that might or might not support the question you ultimately ask:

What actions do you plan to undertake in order to undertake your inquiry?
What, if any, reading or discussion with colleagues have you done around this issue?
With whom, if anyone, do you plan to collaborate on this project?
How will you evaluate your progress with this project?


Requirements

This work is important to us. As a result of discussions with Cassie Drennon, (a researcher with extensive experience in inquiry) and on the basis of previous inquiry participants' reflections, RIDE and LR/RI have shifted the model used in developing and undertaking inquiry projects over the past academic year. In order to support practitioners in developing their questions ­ and understanding that questions are likely to shift as work begins ­ we are not asking for a fully formed question at this time. We are asking for a description of an area you wish to examine/explore and do require that all participants:

  • submit an application for participation by September 13th, 2002.

  • attend scheduled meetings at times to be determined by the group. Payment of the full stipend is dependent upon participation at each meeting. In the event of an emergency, an alternate meeting time can be arranged, but otherwise, if a participant misses a meeting, a pro-rated portion of the stipend will be withheld. This decision has been made to underscore the importance of ongoing learning and interaction with colleagues in the inquiry process.

  • have access to email; respond to and post progress / questions regularly
  • participate in the overnight retreat (October 15-16, 2002, Alton Jones campus URI)
  • complete email assignments and submit a final project report, to be posted to LR/RI inquiry page.
  • participate in a final sharing session

  • These requirements have been developed after consultation with previous inquiry participants and with others who have done this work before. In being insistent about components of the process, we hope to convey our seriousness in wanting to support this work by also increasing the initial time given to participants in forming their questions. We realize that identifying a question is not an easy process and want to support practitioners in exploring the areas of interest to them and in helping them, within the first month or two, refine their questions and work on approaches towards uncovering answers and new learning. We believe that this degree of rigor acknowledges that practitioners in the state are serious, too, in their interest in pursuing this form of professional development.

    Projects may be completed individually or in collaboration with others. Again priority will be given to projects addressing issues within the topical areas cited above and working closely with a partner is strongly encouraged. All participants will be required to attend monthly meetings, an overnight retreat (October 15-16), and a final sharing session/presentation to be held in June.

    These guidelines in the inquiry process have been implemented in order to acknowledge the potential of practitioner inquiry to make a significant difference in adult education practice, and to ultimately benefit learners in programs. In addition to meetings, participants will be encouraged to maintain contact with one another through phone, email and/or small group meetings.


    Why do I want to do this?

    Inquiry projects enable practitioners to ask questions about issues that most matter to them and to the learners with whom they work. It provides opportunities for practitioners to interact with one another, to pose questions, to gain multiple perspectives from colleagues and to make significant change in their practice based on their learning.

    - Action Research is a process in which practitioners examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully using the techniques of research. It is based on these assumptions:

    - practitioners work best on problems they have identified for themselves;

    - practitioners become more effective when encouraged to examine and assess their own work and then consider ways of working differently;

    - practitioners help each other by working collaboratively;

    - working with colleagues helps practitioners in their professional development.

    [adapted from Classroom Action Research]


    The inquiry approach to professional development is a vehicle through which practitioners conduct systemic, intentional, field-based inquiry into their own daily practice. The approach builds on practitioners real world experience and is grounded in analytical and reflective practice. Practitioners (teachers/administrators):

    a) reflect critically upon their own instructional/managerial practices;

    b) review related research in their area of interest;

    c) pose problems or frame questions for inquiry arising from their own settings, prior experience, and their goals for teaching, learning or program development, and

    d) design analytical approaches for resolving the problem or question. In addition, practitioners develop and investigate theories about the results of their inquiry work.


    [from Drennon and Taylor, 1999] : Practitioner inquiry is a different kind of staff developmentŠ It is ongoing, offers a high level of support to a relatively small group of teachers, it focuses solely on teacher participants¹ concerns and is about teachers generating valuable knowledge to the field.

    Inquiry affords new and experienced teachers opportunities to explore their own theories about teaching and learning. It provides teachers with the practical skills, structure and encouragement to pursue promising ideas in the classroom and to carefully study the results. In the model teachers are both learners and researchers. Teachings in an inquiry group learn not only thourgh their own research, but also from that of others. Through their written reports and presentations, they contribute knowledge to others in the broader field.


    Application -- inquiry projects 2002/03; please return by September 13, 2002

    Name

    Program

    Address

    Telephone [and best times to call]

    Email:

    Program manager/director's signature: (or, if being sent by email, please let us know that you have the support of your program director and a contact number for him/her. We want to include program people in occasional announcements about and informal small sharing sessions focussing on ongoing inquiry projects during the coming year


    Please answer these questions in no more than two pages:

    What's your interest? What do you want to explore?

    Please describe the area you are hoping to explore through the inquiry process. While we do not ask that your specific question be formed at this point, we want to know what your thinking is ­ what are you hoping to explore and learn about your practice? What has led you to focus on this particular issue/area? What do you think you might accomplish as a result of participating in this process?

    Who can help?

    With whom, if anyone, do you plan to collaborate on this project?


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