Professor Anne Burns is Professor of TESOL at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She is also an Emeritus Professor at Aston University in the UK, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney and The Education University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include language teacher education, language teacher cognition, applications of genre theory to language teaching, curriculum development and change, literacy, and the teaching of speaking and listening. She is best known for her work in the theory and practice of action research. She is series editor with Jill Hadfield of Research and Resources in Language Teaching (published by Routledge): Teacher Development Over Time, the latest book in the series, was shortlisted as a finalist for The British Council 2019 ELTons Awards.
Gen Z students, those born mainly in the 21 st century, are said to be independent-minded, entrepreneurial and tech-savvy individuals who want their learning to be as engaging as possible. English language teachers must be prepared to be innovative in teaching these students and to reflect flexibly and creatively on their practices. Action research is an approach to practitioner inquiry and professional development that provides us with ways to investigate, innovate, and develop as teachers and to identify what works and what doesn’t work to engage our students. In this talk I will discuss the what, why and how of action research and offer some examples to show how teachers I’ve worked with in different parts of the world have used action research as a way to increase student engagement. I will also reflect briefly on why school managers and principals need to see context-based professional learning activities, such as action research, as fundamental to good quality teaching and to provide support for it.