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ERIC Number: ED565990
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 235
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3036-9534-6
Designing Equity-Focused Action Research: Benefits and Challenges to Sustained Collaboration and Organizational Change
Woerner, Christiane Rhys
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Southern California
This study was a developmental evaluation that investigated whether practitioners' involved in an action research project experienced changes in their attitudes, assumptions, knowledge, behaviors, and beliefs by engaging in practitioner inquiry. The problem of the study revolved around the pressing issues of access, retention and degree completion in how to best achieve accountability for inequities experienced by racial minority groups in higher education in the United States. Action research and inquiry is a strategy utilized by the Center for Urban Education (CUE) to address these issues. Purposeful sampling led to the selection of a case study site where practitioners were engaging in inquiry with CUE. An urban community college that had engaged in continuous use of CUE's action research tools to understand how their attitudes, assumptions, knowledge, and beliefs affected equity was the institution in focus in this study. The practitioners engaged in inquiry in this study included an "early adopters" group and a potential "beta group" of participants in the inquiry process. The experiences of sixteen untenured, new faculty members at the college were of particular interest, because they were identified by the early adopters group for recruitment into a broader college effort towards equity focused organizational change. This group was selected because they were a cohesive group to participate in the action research project. The unit of analysis was a series of activity systems where early adopting practitioners used CUE's tools and a single culminating workshop that involved the new, untenured faculty. The potential of one of CUE's action research tools, the Syllabus Review Protocol, was analyzed using activity theoretical analysis for its potential to act as a remediating artifact of practice. For 11 months, data was collected through document analysis, expert interviews, cognitive interviews, observations and evaluations. The analysis employed activity theory to identify each activity system's subjects, tools, objects, norms, communities, and divisions of labor and how those led to or failed to achieve desired outcomes. The goal of the inquiry project, at the stage examined in this study, was to provide the untenured faculty practitioners the opportunity to become aware that their attitudes, assumptions, knowledge, and beliefs related to race and ethnicity may affect the way they view their students and their students' ability to succeed. The study revealed that when untenured faculty practitioners lacked general knowledge about community norms of behavior regarding practitioner inquiry, they were less likely to value the behaviors of their peers who promoted inquiry as an effective strategy of organizational learning and change. By identifying hidden disturbances, the study's findings demonstrate that matching the right action research tool to available resources and the entry point of the group was necessary for new inquiry participants to effectively use the tool, and by extension other equity minded tools CUE or other action researchers might design. This study contributes to the body of knowledge about the design of action research intended to promote equity. It also establishes a basis for the design of collaborative practices at other community colleges and universities embarking on an investigation of their institution's culture with the objective of developing plans for improving student outcomes. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A