Four Texts of Action Research

NORCAN-partnerskapet bygger på et rammeverk av forskning og strategier. De fire «tekstene» har vært til hjelp for NORCAN-deltakerne å reflektere sammen og dele erfaringer om hva vi har med oss av forutsetninger inn i partnerskapet og hva vi ønsker å bygge videre på. NORCAN bygger også på en «Theory of change» knyttet til skolekultur og lederskap på ulike nivåer.

The NORCAN schools represent a microcosm of the diversity and complexity that characterizes the pedagogical challenges and opportunities encountered by mathematics educators globally. In order to acknowledge this reality while attending to the shared protocols and commitments to solid research outlined in The Norway-Canada Research Partnership - Mindful Leadership for Teaching and Learning in Mathematics, a proven action research model for facilitating professional inquiry is offered in the following. This model, initially developed by the action research work of Luce-Kapler (1997) was also the basis for a collaborative literacy assessment project focussed on building assessment capacity in early literacy development (Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2008).

In this project, the four-cornered template provided a scaffold for sharing and linking participant reflections during the course of the two year project. The template incorporated individual reflections, school-site reports and a final summary provincial report that evaluated the project’s impact on student learning and teacher professional practice. This four-corner writing space offers a powerful analytical framework for bringing together the multiple ways that practitioners’ professional identities and instructional practice are informed and implicated by a variety of variables: individual practitioner attributes, school and community characteristics. These of course all contribute to the collective histories of those involved in professional inquiry and ultimately shape the contours of the work of collaborative inquiry.


  • What pre-conditions existed in the school that contributed to the decision to participate in the project?
  • How will your personal assumptions and expectations about the project and your students influence the initial goals you set?

Evidence and artefacts about professional reflection, narratives and personal biographies.


  • What common interests in improving student learning    brought us together as a group?
  • What were the critical influences that shape our school’s participation? (i.e., the goals and measures of success over time)?

Professional reflection about expectations, evidence of success/failures, what-ifs?


  • As the project moves forward, what will you not know about the students and project goals?
  • As the project unfolded, what did you avoid saying? thinking?
  • What may you avoid asking: about each other? about the broader contexts of the work? 

Professional reflection about echoes, exclusions, murmurs, voices not heard, words not spoken.


  • How might the project contribute to student learning (in terms of the initial goals and goals?
  • What may be the key moments of challenge and progress: for you; for the team; for the students?

Professional reflection about surprises, hindsight, measures and what counts as evidence?

These four texts of action research remind us that authentic leadership in assessment is about helping teachers cross the boundary between self and other, me and not me, known and unknown in order to improve their instructional practice.  

This template also offers possibilities for bringing together the rich data that will be collected over the course of the NORCAN project as participants move through the three dimensions of transformational leadership identified in the NORCAN Research Framework that focus on building the capacity to think ahead, lead across and deliver within. 

Both the four corner template for action research and the three dimensions of transformational leadership will focus our collective efforts to address the over-riding question for the NORCAN partnership : How can an international network of schools and educators committed to mindful leadership help to identify obstacles to students’ mathematics learning and develop strategies for attaining success? As each school team develops and explores its own particular line of inquiry under this umbrella question, hopefully these conceptual tools will assist in the focussing and documenting the work ahead.


Alberta Teachers’ Association. (2008). Teacher Leadership in Assessment – Case Studies n K-3 Literacy.Edmonton: Barnet House.

Luce-Kapler, R. (1997). “Reverberating the Action Research Text.” In T Carson and D Sumara, Eds. Action Research as a Living Practice. New York: Peter Lang. pp 187–97.