One way to view practitioners as researchers is as 'practitioners who actively think about changing their practice share certain attributes. These are: (i) reflective; (ii) responsive to and respectful of learners; (iii) closely engaged with local enterprises; and (iv) reaching out to learn from and share their own knowledge with other practitioners. These four qualities appear to establish the bedrock from which practitioners can set out to seriously consider rebuilding their practice.' (Figgis, 2009, Regenerating the Australian landscape of professional VET practice: practitioner-driven changes to teaching and learning: research overview, NCVER, Adelaide, p.3)
Action research (AR), practitioner-led action research (PLAR) and participatory action research (PAR) are all used in curriculum development, professional development and institutional improvement:
- AR, and PLAR
- help to improve and involve communities of practice by addressing critical educational problems and the situations in which these problems take place,
- create a presence in policy decisions that impact the profession,
- require practitioners to be self-reflective of their own educational process and how this process meets the learning needs of students.
- is used to address broader knowledge and social change in community environments,
- emphasises participation and action through collective inquiry and experimentation in relation to life, experience and knowledge within a community context.
Developing a research proposal
- Annotated sample research proposal: process and product
(Source: University of Queensland)
- Developing a research proposal
(Source: Charles Sturt University)
- National codes and statements on research ethics
(Source: Australian Research Council)
- Research data rights management guide  NEW
(Source: Australian Research Data Commons)
This is a practical guide for people and organisations working with data about rights information and licences, and to raise awareness of the implications of not having licences on data. The guide helps researchers and data managers choose an appropriate licence for research data via the data rightsholder's/creators flowchart. It walks them through what to consider when using data not owned or created by the researcher, and how to ensure appropriate licences on data that is supplied through a facility. The guide also looks at a number of key issues such as: Is there copyright or other IP in data? Does copyright in data really matter? What about restricted data?
- Writing a research proposal
(Source: Monash University)
Examples of practitioner-led research
- Excellence Gateway research portal: developing your practice: engaging with and using research [UK]
This site aims to help practitioners engage with and use research to develop professional practice.
- International Specialised Skills Institute [Victoria, Australia]
The ISS Institute International Fellowship program supports many Australians and international leaders across a broad cross-section of industries and sectors to undertake applied international research that benefits economic development through vocational training, industry innovation and advancement.
- NCVER Communities of Practice collection
This collection brings together the published papers from NCVER's Community of Practice program, Academic Scholarship program, and the Building Researcher Capacity initiative.
- Praxis 2016: improving education practice through action research
In 2015, TAFE Queensland partnered with Griffith University to pilot a Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) program. Pods of educators were established at TAFE Queensland Brisbane and TAFE Queensland Gold Coast. The program provides professional development in research practice, including an opportunity for our educators to undertake an action research project meaningful for them in a highly supportive environment. This publication features nine case studies from the 2015 CPAR program. These case studies demonstrate scholarly reflective practice across a variety of themes, including blended learning, technology utilisation, workplace learning, and sustainability. They also feature a diversity of teaching disciplines,including: veterinary nursing, community care, early childhood teaching and TAFE Queensland's Language and Literacy Services (TELLS).
- Transforming practice in long day care: an action research project (article, 2019)
(Source: International Journal of Training Research)
TAFE SA created a new model of long-term support and engagement with the early childhood and schooling sectors across the state. One example of a long-term professional learning engagement with an early childhood service became the focus of an action research project, enabling systematic analysis of evaluative data to determine the impact of professional learning activities on educator practice. The action research project and its outcomes are presented in this paper.
NCVER research and statistics
- Here you will find current and published research and statistical reports, data collections, surveys and visualisations on the Australian VET system.
- National research priorities
VOCEDplus services for researchers
- VOCEDplus Ask a Librarian Research Services
Access a range of fee-based services from foundation (e.g. a literature search) through to advanced (e.g. research review) to support your research.
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- AR, PLAR and PAR in VET
- Podlet [archived]: Communities of practice [final update December 2018]
- Publications based on action research
- Starting from scratch: teacher to researcher and back again 
This paper presents Berwyn Clayton's keynote speech from the 2011 National VET Research (‘No Frills’) Conference and provides an insight into her journey from teacher to VET researcher. It highlights her interest in assessment and the capability of the VET workforce, and her dedication to supporting and mentoring new researchers.
- An introduction to achieving policy impact for early career researchers 
(Source: Palgrave Communications 4, article number 88)
In this paper, the authors draw on the literature and their own experiences working in the environmental sciences to provide an accessible resource for early career researchers (ECRs) seeking to achieve policy impact in their chosen field.
- Australian Policy Online topics
- Quality and competitiveness: international activities of vocational education and training staff and the effects of these activities on their vocational institution [2018, Finland]
This publication looks at the internationalisation of VET staff in Finland and the benefits, for example the creation of networks and competences, and the inspiration of new operating practices.
- Reflective practice for VET teachers 
(Source: Teaching in the VET sector in Australia)
This chapter draws on a broad range of literature to describe and illustrate theories of reflective practice. It outlines ways in which those theories can be applied to VET teachers to improve and enhance their practice, and makes practical suggestions for techniques which might be used in the process.
- Teachers as researchers: a design-based experiment in focus
(Source: South Australian Government)
This report discusses the importance of professional learning, provides an example of a design-based experiment, and outlines the steps involved in design-based research in the classroom.
- Utilising action research and enquiry processes to achieve sustainable academic development 
(Source: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia)
An overview of action research and enquiry processes in tertiary education is provided before the setting-up, processes and methodology of the current projects at Unitec New Zealand (Institute of Technology) are outlined.
- Vocational teachers as researchers: a didactic approach to action research in a curriculum development project in VET [Europe, 2016]
(Source: European Educational Research Association)
The aim of this paper is to contribute with experience and knowledge on didactic action research as an important research approach concerning curriculum research in VET.
Focus on practice
- Action research for professional learning (AITSL)
(Source: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership)
This 15 minute clip presents an illustration of practice in action research for professional learning, in this instance, trialing team teaching in a secondary science and mathematics environment to examine the effect on student learning outcomes.
- Action research: the ultimate problem-solving strategy for educators
(Source: InformED, a blog by Open Colleges, an online education provider based in Sydney, Australia)
Based on the work of Richard Sagor, this online article outlines the concept of action research, presents its three purposes and describes the seven steps of the action research process.
- ARAL (Action Research and Action Learning for community and organisational change)
This web site holds a large collection of action research and related resources.
- Action Research International [journal]
- Australian Government publications
- Australian Research Council
ARC is one of the Australian government's two main agencies for competitively allocating research funding to academics and researchers at Australian universities.
- AVETRA resources
A repository of research resources for early career researchers.
- Combining participatory action research with developmental evaluation approaches: do they align?
(Source: Whole of Community Engagement Initiative, Charles Darwin University)
This presentation from James Smith and Anne Lowell explores the alignment between these two approaches by using a remote Indigenous case study.
- Doing applied research in Victorian TAFE institutes: an introductory guide  NEW
This guide was commissioned by the Victorian TAFE Association (VTA) to support Victorian TAFE staff members to undertake applied research. Applied research projects may be with an industry, community or government partner or undertaken within TAFE to improve professional practice, courses and programs.
- Getting tough on missing data: a boot camp for social science researchers 
Research in the social sciences is routinely affected by missing data. Not addressing missing data appropriately may yield research findings that are either 'slightly off' or 'plain wrong'. This study demonstrates why and how frequently used simple remedies for missing data can impact on research results.
- Linking research to action: a simple guide to writing an action research report 
(Source: Japan Association for Language Teaching)
This brief article from The Language Teacher, issue 41.1, January 2017, discusses what action research is and why it's undertaken, what should be included in an action research report and the rationale for doing so, in particular, the opportunity to reflect on one's own practice.
- Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools [LSE Impact Blog, UK, 2019]
(Source: London School of Economics)
Twitter and other social media platforms represent a large and largely untapped resource for social data and evidence. This post features the latest developments in digital methods and methodologies for researching Twitter and other social media platforms.
- Social media research: theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks [article, 2015]
(Source: International Journal of Information Management, Elsevier)
To understand how researchers have adopted theories, used research constructs, and developed conceptual frameworks in their studies, a systematic and structured literature review based on five leading online academic databases was conducted.
- VELG resources associated with research
Access more items in VOCEDplus
- Competency-based training and beyond: action research and reflective practice in vocational education and training 
- Explaining the VET applied research developmental framework 
- Practitioner researchers in vocational education and training 
- Review of NCVER building researcher capacity initiative 
- The positioning of practitioners in vocational education and training research 
- VET teachers engaging 'in' and 'with' research as part of their professional practice