Professional Competencies

Professional Competencies

Led by Laura Dino

Our world advances and evolves as time passes, education is not far behind. At the global level, the competencies are worked on and the integral development of the student is sought for the insertion in the working world.

When applying the action research professional competencies are developed, speaking of the students of the superior level. We will understand as competencies the set of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that the person puts into practice for the resolution of situations or problems that arise in life.

According to your experiences:

  • What would be those competencies that have developed when applying action research?
  • Does the share of values and attitudes also develop?
  • How does the development of competencies (including values and attitudes) and how to apply action research support them for their profession?


Action research in the development of professional skills

Shared by Laura Dino

The students of the Normal Schools during their stay develop competences as students and as future teachers. In 7th and 8th semester they investigate and it is through action research how their competences are evaluated. Next they are mentioned:

Professional Competencies

    • Design educational plans, applying their pedagogical and disciplinary knowledge to respond to the needs of the context within the framework of the plan and study programs of basic education.
    • It generates training environments to promote autonomy and promote the development of competences in basic education students.
    • It critically applies the plan and programs of study of basic education to achieve educational purposes and contribute to the full development of the abilities of students at the school level.
    • Use ICT as a teaching and learning tool.
    • Use the evaluation to intervene in the different areas and moments of the educational task.
    • It promotes and regulates inclusive learning spaces for all students, in order to promote coexistence, respect and acceptance.
    • Acts in an ethical manner before the diversity of situations that arise in professional practice.
    • It uses resources from educational research to enrich teaching practice, expressing interest in science and research itself.
    • Intervenes collaboratively with the school community, parents, authorities and teachers, in decision-making and in the development of alternative solutions to socio-educational problems.

General Competencies

    • Use your critical and creative thinking to solve problems and make decisions.
    • Learn permanently.
    • Collaborate with others to generate innovative projects with social impact.
    • Act with ethical sense.
    • Apply your communication skills in different contexts.
    • Use information and communication technologies

Professional Competencies and Action Research

Shared by Margaret Riel

The request in this section is to identify the professional competencies that are reinforced by doing action research. I started with a list of professional competencies described by Strohmeier, Bonnstetter, Wentworth, and Drahosz (1993). I combined and rearranged them to form a basis for my thinking about competence and action research. I have reflected on years of teaching action research as well as the surveys we collected from students in which they indicated what they learned from doing action research.

Interpersonal Skills and Communication Skills -- "Listening with the whole heart"

Action research requires close collaboration with others. The number one change I have seen in working with practitioners engaging in action research for the first time, and one they mentioned the most often was their increased ability to listen to others. Not just to hear what people say but to really focus and clarify and care about what they say. When they used what others shared to generate new ideas collaboratively, you could see transformative change in both the action researcher and the people with whom they worked.

And maybe second, is an increase in their confidence in sharing their ideas with other. The fact that research requires an externalization of ideas in a form that others can examine, results in much stronger written, and presentation skills.

Action research projects often involves valuable experiences in work within a team as it is often is done in collaboration with others. So team building, including negotiation, persuasion and adaptability are often developed. Over time, I have found that action research helps develop ones ability to facilitate groups and meetings with increased tack and diplomacy. When a cycle is less then successful, they might have some experience with conflict resolution or coping techniques. Learning how to build professional communities was an outcome mentioned by many of the students. These are general interpersonal skills that are critical to any profession.

Technical Expertise:

Since I have taught action research in a learning technologies program, it is natural that many of the students designed action research around the introduction, use or demonstration of new forms of technology with their colleagues. This created situation where they had to help others become more technically skilled. To do this well, they may develop better skills in taking the perspective of others as they helped to share their evolving computer literacy.

Time and Project Management Skills

Doing action research as part of a degree program creates the time management issues and hopefully skills in managing time well. Action research is an iterative cyclic process but the cycles of innovation may not line up with the timeline of the university program. Learning to engage in meaningful learning and match that to external time constraints can lead to important workplace skills.

Goal Setting Skills

Action research involves planning for immediate, midrange and long term outcomes. In any cycle, the focus is on the evaluation of the immediate goals, but at same time the action research maintains a change over time perspective. This perspective on both immediate and long team goals may help them to develop strategic skill in their effect to move their colleagues, team or class to increasing better outcomes. For this to happen the action researcher needs to be personally aware and self motivated to set goals, prioritize, and make decisions that lead to effective outcomes.

Identity Transformation and Leadership Skills:

We have another section on this site to explore the leadership and action research but it is important to mention it here as well. Before doing action research, many people feel powerless. They see problems as something that exists in the institution, school, or workplace and they are not the ones who can make change. After doing action research they come to understand what it means that you can lead from any seat. What you can change is shaped by your position in an organization but all people have the power to effect change. Team building, strategic thinking and planning with some creativity and courage can lead to very significant shifts in culture and practice in any workplace. Developing a political and social consciousness about the importance of living the change you want to see in the world and building coalitions to help you achieve goals is the hallmark of action research. The more we help new action researchers understand this shift, the more effective we can help them become.

Strohmeier, S. O., Bonnstetter, B., & Wentworth Drahosz, K. (1993). Mentoring for success. Scottsdale, AZ: Target Training, Intl.

Professional Competencies and Classroom-based Action Research

Shared by Kathy Shafer

In the text above, Laura defines professional competencies as the set of knowledge, skills, values ​​and attitudes that the person puts into practice for the resolution of situations or problems that arise in life. She then asks, what competencies develop when applying action research? Margaret extends the discussion by outlining categories of professional competencies. Our goal, in this section, is to identify the professional competencies that are reinforced by doing action research.

After completing their action research studies, I ask teachers in my program to reflect on an area(s) of personal growth. References to the skill competencies of time management, goal setting and writing are found across many of the teachers’ responses. Over the years, two overarching themes have emerged—confidence and the development of a teacher-researcher mindset. The combination of these constructs leads to a discussion of leadership, however leadership is addressed in another section of this website.

In what follows, I share examples from a few of the May 2018 graduates on these two themes. It is interesting to note that this set of reflections, on confidence and teacher-researcher mindset, are situated in the broader context of teaching and research as opposed to the specific results of these teachers’ action research studies.

Confidence

I think that both all the learning that I have done over the last couple of years in my grad school classes, combined with the completion of my action research, have made me feel more confident about the actions that I am taking within my own classroom. I feel that everything that I do is what is in the best interest of my students. I've found that I'm taking more of my "free time" to research new teaching ideas and I'm much more likely to try something new and to share those things with the other math teachers. JF

Before this program, and throughout the beginning stages of it, I was very hesitant to provide my input in department meetings, meetings with other math teachers at the middle schools, or just providing my input with some colleagues. I felt like the newbie that didn’t have too much to offer yet, as I lacked experiences. While I still lack experience in years of teaching compared to the majority of my department, I do have unique experiences in the classroom and mathematics instruction from this program that not everyone else has. I recognize the growth that I have made from these courses and now have confidence in providing input on curriculum and instruction specific to mathematics classrooms during department meetings, or conversations with colleagues. AS

I’ll use a word I have used before: empowered. The process of action research has made me feel empowered to turn those nagging concerns and elusive thoughts into specific questions that can be more closely examined. TH

I also feel that I have grown in confidence as a math educator. … Confidence comes with experience, yes, but I have gained so much more confidence through doing this study. I feel as though I can speak expertly on a part of teaching math that I couldn't do so before. My principal has been coming to me for perspectives on new curricula and I can answer his questions confidently. I would not have felt qualified to answer him before this course. RD

I remember taking to Dr. Woodward when I first started a new job and encountered teachers who taught more traditionally. Later, I took the class on teaching through problem solving and felt a little better about continuing to teach the way that I had been [incorporating worthwhile tasks into the curriculum]. My action research project brought that full circle. Instead of asking my professor or reading books on ways to teach, I was able to research myself, with my own students, in my own classroom--you can't get more meaningful than that! ... By completing this program and this research, I feel much more confident and comfortable with suggested ways of best reaching students and best covering standards and practices. JI

Teacher-researcher Mindset

I also think that a strength is now knowing and understanding the AR process. Last semester I felt like I was doing and turning in assignments blindly not understanding how they all connect. But, after completing my own AR study, I now have a full picture of how it all fits together and how beneficial it can be. RD

Another thing that I feel I have grown as an instructor in the field of mathematics is reflecting more on the observations that I have made. Before this study, I would make observations, and maybe try [something] based on what I believe is important. With this study, I feel that I have become better at truly reflecting on what happened while leaving my own personal feelings and opinions out of it. This is important because it allows for me to actually see what is happening and not just something that I believe is happening or what I want to happen. DG

Even if I don’t enact an entire AR study right away, I can at the least investigate more closely how my students are learning and also how they are feeling about mathematics. TH

I have been very pleased with my personal growth as a mathematics educator in this course and program. Personally, it is not always easy to take risks. As teachers, we have this false belief that we have to be right and things can't be messy. Plans should be well thought out, planned, and executed. However, learning is messy! It doesn't always go as planned. My growth in this course has found me more willing to take chances and to risk something not going very well. It has also found me questioning things in a good way. For example, I questioned whether a flipped classroom approach would benefit my students. Well, instead of wondering about, I decided to test it. Now, I have several things I can continue examining as I move forward. BM

As a personal confession, I was very intimidated regarding MATH 694/696 prior to starting these classes. I always thought of research as scientists in white lab coats locked away in a lab somewhere with cages of mice and test tubes of chemicals. However, these classes have shown me I AM an action researcher within the four walls of my classroom. I possess the needed skills to perform action research effectively and make positive changes in my classroom and perhaps the classrooms of others as a result. What I feared would be insurmountable courses ended up being a very positive experience that I can use in the future! AH

Summary

In general, mathematics teachers often struggle with action research as a methodology (note BM’s comment about testing a flipped classroom approach); mathematics teachers often want to show causation. Every year I have teachers who initially plan on using a control group, which would lead to statistical hypothesis testing. As a result, I specifically require a qualitative approach. The open-ended nature of action research typically pushes mathematics teachers out of their comfort zone, especially when the results of a study are mixed or the plan had to be modified. This tension can be seen in comments made by BM. ”As teachers, we have this false belief that we have to be right and things can't be messy. … However, learning is messy! It doesn't always go as planned.”

To review, I see a shift in the teachers’ attitudes. Some appear to have found their professional voice (to share their knowledge with peers and administrators), while others express confidence in their ability to continue to try something new or turn nagging thoughts into research questions to examine. I also see evidence that these teachers have acquired knowledge of action research as a process that involves careful data collection, analysis and reflection. For example DG stated, “I feel that I have become better at truly reflecting on what happened while leaving my own personal feelings and opinions out of it.” DG recognized the importance of deep reflection, which is critical to the teacher-researcher mindset.