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Jennifer Harnett

Doctor of Education
Study Completed: 2007
College of Education


Thesis Title
Changing Learning Conversations: An Action Research Model of Reflective Professional Development

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Ms Harnett facilitated an action research study in two New Zealand primary school classrooms. The study investigated the effects of teacher knowledge and thinking on classroom learning conversations, while providing the participating teachers with opportunities to develop their professional knowledge and practice. Information was gathered through interviews and classroom observations. The findings revealed discrepancies between the teachers’ espoused theories and their theories-in-use, fragmented understanding of learning and assessment theory, and practice that was detrimentally influenced by routinised behaviours. These findings have implications for teacher education and development. Action research with an outside facilitator enabled the teachers to examine, reflect upon, and develop their classroom practice. After an initial regression there was a gradual improvement in the quality of the teachers’ learning conversations. Ms Harnett’s study, while highlighting the time required to effect change in teacher practice, demonstrated the effectiveness of classroom-based action research as a model for reflective professional development.

Associate Professor Jenny Poskitt
Dr Alison St George