Translating Theory into Practice: A Study Of Collaborative Action Research in Academic Administration
By: Bradley Clark Thompson
Published: 05/21/2014
Uploaded: 01/11/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2014 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: action, collaboration, Leadership, research

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Description/Abstract: This research involved a study exploring the changes in an academic institution expressed through decision-making in a shifting leadership culture. Prior to the study, the school was heavily entrenched in authoritarian and centralized decision-making. As upper level administrators were exposed to the concept of collaborative action research, they began making decisions through a reflection and action process. Changing assumptions and attitudes were observed and recorded through interviews at the end of the research period.

Six upper level academic administrators from a private graduate school of religion were selected to participate in this study. Included were an academic vice president, two deans of doctoral programs, two directors- one of undergraduate programming and another of institutional assessment, and the executive vice president. The purpose of this

research was to describe their experience in an institution moving from centralized leadership to one more collaborative in nature. The research team engaged in sixteen weekly cycles of reflection and action based on an agenda they mutually agreed to and through an analysis of post-research interviews, a team learning survey, weekly planning meetings, discussions, and reflection and action cycles. Findings revealed experiences centering around the issues of:

* the nature of collaboration- it created discomfort, it created a sense of teamwork, it created difficulty,

* the change of environment in the process- team members began to respect each other more, the process became more enjoyable,

* the freedom and change in the process- freedom to voice opinions and to actively listen, the use of experience to lead elsewhere in the school,


* how issues of power are better understood by working together- the former process was less collaborative, politics will always be part of the process.

As a result of this study, members have started using this decision making methodology in other areas of administration.