A Narrative Study of How an Online Practitioner Used a Personal Action Research Journal as a Form of Professional Development—La-Kicia K. Walker-Floyd is Faculty at University of Phoenix (Online Programs).
This narrative study will allow my reader a glimpse into real situations I have faced as an asynchronous online instructor in hopes to help me and my audience better understand how I, as a self-directed online practitioner, utilized action research recorded in a journal as a method to build capacity for continuous professional development to implement effective practice. Bolton (1999), Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1990), and Moon (1999) have advocated the use and benefits of incorporating journal writing and reflection in professional practice. In response to asynchronous online classroom challenges, I created a personal action research journal (PARJ) in 2006 and used it to (a) record experiences and/or classroom challenges, (b) explore ideas and/or methods to address the challenges, (c) try the new practice, (d) monitor students, and (e) reflect upon the experience and new practice.
The narrative sought to examine the advantage of using action research documented in a journal for improving practice, whether the journal texts were full action research cycle; partial cycle, or informal, as well as ways the PARJ (used as a tool in professional development) assisted me in becoming a better online practitioner. By using narrative as a form of interpretive phenomenology, I studied the journal text by looking for action research patterns (the process of analysis and interpretation of the journal text data are explained in the methodology chapter) and described the contributions of action research as a lens to examine a journal as a continuous form of professional development during the course of isolated, autonomous, asynchronous online course administration and instructional practice. This study also highlighted examples of full action research cycle, partial cycle, and informal journal texts and revealed the contributions of each style of journal text, as well as ways the personal action research journal assisted me in becoming a better online practitioner. Further, the dissertation revealed the significance of the personal action research journal. Journal text reflections from me, as a scholar practitioner, are detailed in Chapter 6. One of the limitations of this narrative study is myself as the sole participant, and therefore the recommendation is made to include small groups or small pairs of autonomous, asynchronous online instructors who use journals.