One of the pleasant aims of a publication of our kind is to let readers immerse themselves in the collection of compelling articles that mirror the professional experience, intellectual rigour, and discerning critical perspectives of their authors. I am proud to say that in putting together this Winter edition of ETAS Journal, we have fulfilled just such an aim.
Writing about teacher action research, Pine (2009) had this to say: “A good research question leads to taking an action, to trying something out, to improving a teaching/learning situation, to implementing actions that can make a difference in the lives of students. ‘No action without research—no research without action.’ Even in those situations in which the goal of the research is to gain deeper knowledge and understanding of a student, such as in a case study or a descriptive review, it is assumed that the ultimate goal of such acquired knowledge and understanding is the improvement of one’s teaching or the advancement of student learning and/or development” (p. 239). This view sums up the theme of this issue and provides the philosophical underpinning for this Special Supplement.
In varying ways, our authors advance the thinking that the critique and integration of appropriate research to inform and evolve effective teaching strategies and learning practices is an essential requirement in facilitating greater learning outcomes. Individually, they draw attention to a number of key considerations, such as the importance of locating research within teachers’ everyday practice, supporting teachers’ agency by nurturing research literacy, and ensuring the sustainability of research practices. Collectively, they underscore the value of teachers engaging in, and with, research in order to be able to use research discerningly to inform their own practice. Together, they highlight the notion that to be research literate one needs to develop the skills to draw on, critically scrutinize, and integrate different kinds of evidence. At the same time, they encourage the use of new approaches and different analytic perspectives, stressing the positive gains and new insights that push our own understanding of who we are and how we teach.