Practitioner research is perhaps best described as research by teachers or lecturers which is ‘related to their everyday professional life and directly concerns their context or environment’ (Campbell et al, 2004).
This definition is deliberately broad to include many of the activities already undertaken by Open University staff as part of their part of their research or everyday teaching roles. It is also meant to include other related research approaches such as action research, action learning, appreciative enquiry and the scholarship of teaching (and learning).
What is essential in practitioner research and other approaches is that it involves three key elements:
- Systematic investigation into (one’s own) teaching/learning facilitation practice.
- Modification or improvement of practice.
- Contribution to theoretical knowledge (Norton, 2009).
Practitioner research can therefore be used as a way of better understanding your own practice and your students, as a way of improving that practice and the experience of students and also of contributing to knowledge within the field of teaching and learning. Quite what each of these elements involves is explored further within this website.