The Guide to Undertaking Professional Enquiry
Encouraging teachers to undertake research and enquiry has a long history. It was first promoted in the 1970s by Lawrence Stenhouse who argued that when teachers engaged in curriculum development, they were in effect researching their own practice (Stenhouse,1975). Over time a range of labels has been used to describe teacher research and enquiry including ‘reflective practice’ (Schon, 1983), ‘action research’ (Elliot, 1991), ‘practitioner research’
(Zeichner and Noffke, 2001), ‘collaborative inquiry’ (Bray, 2000), ‘critical enquiry’ (Aaron et al, 2006), ‘teacher research’ (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1993 and 1999; MacLean and Mohr, 1999) and ‘critical collaborative enquiry’ ( Drew, Priestley and Michael, 2016). The approach adopted by Marilyn Cochran-Smith has become very influential. She argues that teachers should develop ‘inquiry as stance’: in other words, this should become an essential part of their professional practice that enables them to have ‘agency’ within the education system. She views this as:
‘’… neither a top-down nor a bottom-up theory of action, but an organic and democratic one that positions practitioners’ knowledge, practitioners and their interactions with students and other stakeholders at the centre of educational transformation’’ (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 2009:123-
Under these various guises what we have decided in Wales to call ‘professional enquiry’ has become an established element of both professional practice and the study of education within Universities in the UK (Furlong, 2013).