Paulus MurrayÕs response (5 February 2004) to Tao RuiÕs action research account on, How can I improve my students' motivation so they can improve their learning? Paulus has sent this response to his own students at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, near Bath. You can access PaulusÕ homepage at:


Here is PaulusÕ response



If you click on this link you will be able to read Tao Rui's paper -


Following my two sessions with, I'm sharing this paper with you as an illustration of good quality (educational) action research.


I'd like to thank those of you who attended yesterday.


While Tao Rui's paper very clearly demonstrates how personal theory (Jean McNiff) and living theory (Jack Whitehead) can start with the role of the self and one's practice in Action Research, Tao Rui also shows how her own "practitioner research" (Marion Dadds & Susan Hart, 2000, Doing Practitioner Research Differently, Routledge) influences a momentum of 'culture' change and organizational transformation in respect of 'Quality' in her organization (in Tao Rui's context the "quality" of educative practice as it supports the end-user, i.e. the learner, and enhances and enriches the conscious awareness of the educator/practitioner is the 'quality' I have in mind).


This excites me to be sure.


I'm sending this because I was engaged and excited by the questions from Helen, Lucas, Karen, Colette and Dan in particular concerning academic rigour in Action research, questions of validity, and presenting Action Research to positivistic audiences (like yourselves, for the most part)


As you read Tao Rui's paper do try to get a feel for the very strong "practitioner researcher" base of this piece.


Action Research is particularly fruitful for those who seek to use the MBA as an opportunity to explore and inquire into the base of their practice - Who am I as a manager? Consultant? Farmer? Equine practitioner?


Action inquiry of this kind is given the name 'practitioner research'.


How often do managers & farmers reflect on their practice in this way, I wonder?


In the privacy of internal dialogue much of the time I guess!


How often do managers pause from the busy-ness of 'doing', and reflect on their responsibilities as 'practitioners' with complex ethical responsibilities to self, to colleagues, and to their organizations for improving their practice while also being prepared to hold themselves publicly accountable for their improvement in the way that tao Rui is doing in her action inquiry paper?


This is one exciting application of Action Research to organizations.


Do notice how Tao Rui integrates the ideas of others into her own analysis.

This is a skill you will need to demonstrate in your dissertation.


Bear in mind that the dissertation isn't merely a 'management report' or a long paper - if this is your expectation then I suggest you talk with your course managers.


Rita and I were talking about this together yesterday evening.

We'd both be delighted to chat with you together about the dissertation over coffee in the Postgraduate common room if you'd like that.


Observe how Tao Rui produces a competent review of a selection of the Action Research literature (admittedly narrow, though this is a paper, and not a Masters dissertation, so my implied criticism is muted).


By sending this paper I'm hoping to influence your education in respect of how you might think about the ways that you can demonstrate the skills below in your dissertation: 



¥      a competent review of the literature for coursework and for your dissertation

¥      integration of the ideas on others into your own analysis and your emergent personal theory and self-knowledge.



I'd enjoy us sharing what we each think & feel about Tao Rui's paper. I also very much enjoyed yesterday morningÕs session and thank you.


Peace & Respect, Paulus