Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Teachers and students as partners in researching educational practice

How can collaborative participatory action research by student-teachers and their students enhance student participation, improve educational practices, and generate knowledge about these practices that can be used for improving teacher education as well?

2015 - 2019
Ben Smit


  • Ben Smit MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. W.F. Admiraal - supervisor
  • prof.dr. A.K. Berry (Monash University, Melbourne)  - supervisor
  • dr. E.H. Tigelaar - co-supervisor

Project description

Main research questions

  • How do teacher education practices address teacher-learner partnership in research on practice?
  • How do school practices of student-teachers address teacher-learner partnership in research on practice?
  • How can teacher-learning partnerships in research on practice efficiently and effectively be implemented in teacher education?
  • How can teacher-learning partnerships in research on practice efficiently and effectively be implemented in school practice of student-teachers?

Social and scientific relevance

In education generally, and in educational research specifically, the perspective and voice of the student is remarkably missing. One form of such a pattern of student participation is through participatory action research (PAR). However, enabling student voices in educational research on this intensive level is still not commonplace. This holds equally true for students in teacher education (TE) programs. Action research (AR) by students and teachers and/or teacher educators collaboratively, on educational issues of mutual interest is a possible approach for attaining several goals: enhancing teachers’ and teacher educators’ awareness of and capacity for enabling student participation; developing a participatory school practice by modeling democracy/citizenship in practice; improving student-teacher relationships; creating a rich context for teachers’ professional development; improving teaching practice through teacher action research in TE and schools; developing motivating and differentiated contexts for school students.

AR by teachers and in TE programs have been studied. However, and in particular in the Dutch TE context, little is known about how to incorporate teacher research and student participation through PAR in a TE program and subsequently in schools, and what conditions enable or constrain this. Furthermore, a Dutch university TE program aimed at integrating student participation in decision-making through PAR does not yet exist. Not only is current research on how to set this up scarcely available, it also cannot prescribe how to develop a program under local conditions, as site-based educational development.


The current project concerns how to understand and facilitate student-teacher participation in educational research in TE, in order that student-teachers feel equipped and motivated to do this with their own school students.

Setting and methods

The study will be conducted within the ICLON World Teacher Program (WTP), and will involve WTP teacher educators,WTP student teachers from cohorts September 2015 and 2016 (approx. 24 students per cohort), and their secondary school students.

Data collection will be combined with activities that will take place as part of the regular WTP and/or in such a way as to be useful for the teachers and students. Under this condition, data collection can be done to a large extent by teachers and students themselves. Selected student-teachers will be studied more in-depth (multiple case studies).

Foto: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Blend / Learning Pictures / Universal Images Group

  • Smit, B. H. J. (2013). Young people as co-researchers: enabling student participation in educational practice.  Professional Development in Education, 39(4), 550-573. doi: 10.1080/19415257.2013.796297
  • Smit, B. H. J., Meirink, J. A., Berry, A. K., & Admiraal, W. F. (2020). Source, respondent, or partner? Involvement of secondary school students in Participatory Action Research. International Journal of Educational Research, 100, 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2020.10154
  • Smit, B. H. J., Meirink, J. A., Tigelaar, D. E. H., Berry, A. K., & Admiraal, W. F. (2022). Principles for school student participation in pre-service teacher action research: A practice architecture's perspective. Educational Action Research. doi:10.1080/09650792.2022.2121933
  • Dissertation
  • Smit, B.H.J., Tigelaar, D.E.H., Berry, A.K., & Admiraal, W.F. (2024). Teacher educators’ views on educating pre-service teachers for participatory action research in secondary schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 141, 104460. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2023.104460  (Open Access)
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