Action Research in ELICOS Program


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What is action research?

What is the Action Research in ELICOS Program?

Why is this program valuable to the ELICOS sector?

Why should colleges participate?

Why should teachers participate?

Participate in the program


What is action research?

Action research gives teachers the opportunity to investigate and explore their own teaching practices within their own workplaces. They, together with their students, are the subject of their own research, which centres on an issue of concern, a challenge or 'problem' that the teacher has with their own teaching.

Action research involves systematically investigating that issue and involves the following: planning teaching strategies to address the issue; observing and collecting data about what occurs; analysing the information collected; and reflecting on what has been learned as a result. It aims to deepen a teacher's understanding of their own practice.

Click here to read an article by Anne Burns on action research.


What is the Action Research in ELICOS Program?


In 2010 English Australia, in partnership with Cambridge ESOL, piloted the first Action Research in ELICOS Program as part of a strategy to raise levels of professional practice in ELICOS. The successful program has been repeated every year since.

In the program teachers are given guidance on how to set up an action research project in their own class, and supported to implement that project over six months. They attend workshops and communicate with the program leaders throughout that time. At the end of the program they present the outcomes of their research in a number of ways, including a presentation at the annual English Australia Conference.

Click here for details of eligibility, selection criteria and more.

Learn more about the 2017 program.

Past programs:                                                                                                                         

2016 program

2015 program                                                    

2014 program

2013 program

2012 program

2011 program

2010 program


Why is this program valuable to the ELICOS sector?

The ELICOS sector gains a great deal through:

  • the professional development of the teachers actively involved;
  • the development of networks between teachers interested in action research and in different areas of teaching;
  • increased engagement of teachers in research and with academic researchers, in a valuable two-way learning experience;
  • more teachers becoming interested in going on to do further study.

All of these will contribute to higher levels of classroom practice, and improved learning experiences for our ELICOS students.


2012 AREP - Vicki, Megan & Zeke

Vicki Bos and Megan Yucel from ICTE-UQ discuss their project with Zeke Pottage from Swinburne College (VIC) in a workshop in the 2012 program.


Why should colleges participate?

Directors of Studies report that having a teacher involved in the program strengthened teachers' concepts of practice and professional development; increased interest in and engagement with teacher-initiated research; and developed a sense of professionalism related to awareness of a wider world within and outside the organisation (Burns, forthcoming). A comment from an academic manager involved in the 2011 program sums it up:

'The program has been beneficial for us on many levels. The actual process of conception, training, research, reflection, analysis and documentation of their projects was a very valuable learning experience for [the teachers] and one that they have been able to share with their colleagues, hopefully providing an inspiration for others to get involved. There have already been project meetings to identify future research directions. The added dimension of preparing and delivering presentations in the various professional development contexts our teachers were able to access was an exceptionally useful exercise, and again was part of our objective in supporting the program- to raise [the college's] professional profile in the ELICOS community. All of this is in addition to the actual research findings which will inform [the college's curriculum].'

Why should teachers participate?

All past participants in the program report they have benefitted considerably from the opportunity to explore an area of interest to them, to develop their professionalism and also to engage with other teachers who are passionate about teaching. Here are just a few comments:

'It was a profound experience both professionally and personally. It's taught me a lot about myself as a teacher and has given me a deeper insight into the way students learn.'

'I have learnt a great deal about myself as a teacher, as a researcher and as part of the team I work with. Many valuable lessons were learnt. I 'notice' much more in my professional life.'

'Great professional development and a springboard for further opportunities.'

 'It’s a wonderful opportunity to take a look at research in a practical way. It is also good to meet other practitioners and to hear about other centres.'

'it is a super-charged professional development experience!'

'It is inspirational to be involved in.'


  Sascha Mitchell

All participants are eligible for the Award for Action Research, sponsored by Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Above, Sascha Mitchell from QUT International College, QLD, winner of the 2016 Award for Action Research. 

Participate in the program

English Australia is currently calling for expressions of interest in the 2018 Program. Proposals are due on 2 February 2018.

For more information about participating in the 2018 Program, please click here.