Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Dr. Terrence Keeney


Our PreK-12 schools face increasing complexities such as accountability, diversity, closing the achievement gap, and working in an era of standards-based reform (Drago-Severson, 2009). The purpose of this inquiry was to understand teachers’ experiences with one type of learning experience, action research, and to investigate the impact of this experience on the teachers’ practice and voice. Three research questions guided this inquiry:

  • What are the experiences teachers have as they utilize the action research process?
  • How do teachers find that their experiences with action research impact their practice?
  • What connections are there between the action research process and teacher voice?

A narrative inquiry stance, a form of qualitative research, provided the overall design for the study. The voice-centered relational method (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2003), Drago-Severson’s (2009) learning-oriented model of leadership and the analytic memo method (Center for Evaluation and Research, 2012) were used to support the narrative inquiry stance. Data were gathered through the use of two semi-structured interviews, field notes and the teachers’ final research reports.

The research involved a purposeful sample of five K-12 teachers in public school systems in Maine and Ohio. The teachers completed a final research report and participated in monthly data share meetings over a five-month period.

Knowledge generation, teacher voice and an awareness of contextual factors and school structures were the major findings from my study. By conducting action research, the teachers generated knowledge. The teachers also experienced voice, which was through decision-making processes. Within these processes, the teachers had two experiences: included as experts, and being replaced by top-down decision-makers. Contextual factors and school structures were also

found to both hinder and support the action research process. Additionally, I applied Drago-Severson’s (2009) pillar practices and “ways of knowing” (p. 39) to simulate possible solutions for myself and other educational administrators to implement in our practice. These findings and application can provide possible solutions to transform our schools into learning organizations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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