Kepler Kiziba/SNHU Kick off the School Year with Action Research Training for Classroom Educators

Dr. Harvey and Kiziba course facilitators prepare to engage in the theoretical and practical aspects of action research.

By Chrystina Russell

It’s the first week of classes at Kepler Kiziba, but the students aren’t the only ones gearing up for a year of rigorous learning. In HEA’s spirit of engaging in research to understand how to improve programs, SNHU and Kepler began the year with a four-day intensive for course facilitators (the program’s name for teachers) to learn and systematically apply research methods to understand the impact of their practice through data collection throughout the upcoming year.
The training was lead by Dr. Jacqueline Pryce-Harvey, an expert from the United States. After spending a week with the course facilitators delving into the individualized research projects that will be implemented and tracked throughout the year, she noted, “it was a joy to have teachers who completed all homework assignments, were 100% present during the discussions and group activities and who gave feedback that drove the presentation and made it more relevant to their work. I felt gratified they recognized Action Research as a driving force in their development as educators and embraced solving problems as a continual process of refinement and improvement.”
Action research encourages practitioners to address and improve the ways in which they solve problems. The process demands course facilitators both conduct their work and engage in systematic data collection to research the effectiveness of their practice in relation to individually set goals. As the designers and implementers of their research, the Kiziba course facilitators will track their ability to solve particular problems, collect data from the community, measure their progress, and ultimately use the collected information to inform and set organizational best practices.
Landry Sugira, a Kepler/SNHU grad from the Kigali campus who currently works as a course facilitator at Kiziba was deeply engaged in the training and commented, “I really learned a lot.  I learned how action research can help educators improve their practices in classes, stimulate students to change, and how to use action research to impact student growth. Action research makes it easier to understand how I’m changing lives because it helps educators do what participants want through collecting data and analyzing the information to make informed decisions. I also learned how to use triangulation to collect data from different sources to help teachers avoid repeating same mistakes. I look forward to implementing this to improve my teaching practices, help students to grow and be exposed to new things like modules & online courses. I also can't wait to share best practices with fellow researchers and also learn from them.”
During the training, Dr. Pryce-Harvey first lead the course facilitators in exercises to understand the theoretical framework of action research. She then guided them through an individualized process to design action research projects that will be implemented throughout the year. Dr. Pryce-Harvey will then guide and coach the course facilitators through skype check-ins, in person at the mid-year point, followed by one last end of year presentation to share the findings with the community and improve practice.

SNHU and Kepler Kiziba felt it was important to include the teaching staff in the research learning and processes of HEA. While the quantitative and qualitative data that AIR will produce in the grant will be valuable, the team also wanted to ensure teachers were also benefitting from training allowing them to systematically collect, track, analyze, and report data on their practice. Yvette Abruju noted the training helped her hone in on her areas of of focus for the upcoming year.
After meeting the course facilitators and experiencing Kiziba camp, Harvey commented, “It is near impossible to experience the reality of the students of the camp and not want to work at finding immediate solutions.  The realization that there are few immediate solutions make the long term goal of providing education at all levels even more critical.”
The team is looking forward to a great year, not only in the progress of the students, but also to watch the course facilitators grow under the guidance of Dr. Pryce-Harvey and the principles of action research. Stay tuned for teachers to share their work and growth through blog posts!