Enhancing postgraduate learning and Development: a participatory action learning and action research approach through conferences
Wood, Lesley Angelina
Zuber-Skerritt, Ortrun Dorothea
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As supervisors who advocate the transformational potential of research both to generate theory and practical and emancipatory outcomes, we practice participatory action learning and action research (PALAR). This paper offers an illustrative case of how supervision practices based on action learning can foster emancipatory and lifelong learning within a university context that is becoming ever more focused on throughput of students, rather than on the quality of their learning. Conference attendance offers an excellent opportunity for postgraduate students to develop as researchers and lifelong learners, yet anxiety often prevents them from making the most of the learning experience. We explain how we encouraged the development of capabilities in students through a PALAR support programme that assisted postgraduate students prepare for a conference to make overall participation, presenting a paper and subsequent publication a true learning experience. We generated and analysed data from the written reflections of 11 postgraduate students who participated in the programme. The findings suggest that action learning, specifically PALAR, can be used to enable a rich learning experience for postgraduate students attending conferences through fostering relationships, building trust, a supportive environment, collaboration, communication and competence among them. Postgraduate students who experienced our PALAR support programme developed not only skills, knowledge, confidence and deeper appreciation of learning opportunities through conferences, but also understanding of the principles of PALAR that apply not just to the conference context but across all aspects of learning and research and life at large.
- Faculty of Education