A research article titled ‘‘[N]ow I can be a poetic writer’: using action research as a way of reclaiming and implementing professional values in the primary school’ by Stephanie Weber (a former part-time IoE MA student) and her MA dissertation supervisor (Prof. Richard Harris) has recently been published in the Educational Action Research journal.
The article is based on Stephanie’s dissertation which focused on improving the quality of creative writing in her Year 4 class. Many in her class were not performing at nationally expected levels, and as Stephanie found out most of the class did not enjoy the process of writing. Using action research, Stephanie identified that the school’s approaches to writing, as dictated by the senior leadership, was not supporting the development of creative writing effectively, and Stephanie’s own experiences and misgivings about her ability to teach creative writing also was an obstacle. As preparation for her dissertation, she read widely about approaches to teaching creative writing, focusing on the use of high quality ‘mentor’ texts and the importance of reading aloud and discussion, and used the ideas she gained to devise a series of intervention lessons. The outcomes were hugely positive. The vast majority of the children showed an increased love of writing as a result of the interventions, as well as significant improvements in the quality of the creative work they produced.
For Stephanie, the work improved her professional confidence in her abilities and meant she started to enjoy this aspect of teaching much more. Although the process of writing the article was lengthy (from writing various drafts, through to submission, feedback and resubmission), the feedback from the journal reviewers was extremely positive, noting this was an excellent example of impactful action research on an important area for children’s development.
Reacting to the news that her co-authored article has been published, Stephanie said:
“I was fortunate that Richard enjoyed my dissertation and asked me if I would be interested in writing a journal article with him about my research. I would never have thought of writing a journal without him. I would not have known where to begin. The experience was exciting and yes I would encourage MA students to consider getting their research paper published but I would also encourage supervisors to work with the students for this to happen.”
“I was very fortunate to have Richard for my dissertation supervisor and personal tutor. His belief in me as a student was what made my studies a success. He was always supportive but most of all he developed me to become a reflective researcher.”
Stephanie Weber was a part-time MA student at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education (2014-2017) and her current role is a Year 3 class teacher, a Year 3 Year Leader and an English Lead for a very large primary school (around 750 children) in Berkshire.