From policy to practice – action research as school development

Project Details


An ever-changing and increasingly complex world challenges education. The expanding curriculum and changes in modus towards the digitisation of knowledge are exerting pressure throughout today’s educational system. Researchers and policymakers respond by seeking new strategies to make education more efficient. Political initiated changes in schools and other social institutions are often needed to be supplemented by social processes, which are creating ownership and incorporate these new initiatives in existing logics. In practice new policies like legislation and regulations is often met by scepticism and to some extent resistance. The transformation from policy to practice often need some mediation and facilitation. One strategy is, based on existing knowledge and research, to develop implementation models on which practice are expected to act. However, this approach echoes a top-down strategy that does not take account of cultural, pedagogical and human differences and values. As a response action research offers a bottom-up approach. Action research is expedient in order to initiate processes of change in respect for individual habits and contextualized culture and traditions.
In the case of developing pedagogical practices based on new educational policies action research is facing a dilemma. Even action research is born as a critical and democratic method (Levin, 1948) it is often launched as a reaction to public interventions. Action research projects are often initiated by researchers and funds and not by practitioners. Thus, the researchers frames the research but it is the practitioners who are expected to change practice. The approach contradicts the spirit of action research (Tinning, 1992).
The purpose of this project is to face the dilemma and present ideas and experiences of how action research as a bottom-up strategy constructively can be applied to develop pedagogical practice based on a top-down policy.
The dilemma is examined based on experiences from a two-year long action research project, starting 2017. In Denmark, a new reform for public schools was launched in 2014, which states that students in primary schools must be physically active for 45 minutes every day. The action research project aims to answer the following research question: “Which didactics of movement integration may promote and qualify teachers’ use of physical activities and movement in the subjects of primary schools?”
Expected outcomes
The teachers embodied and enactive involvement in the action research played a significant role transposing the policy into the pedagogical realm and develop an educative practice that is rooted in teachers’ experiences, values and visions. The actions yielded sensory-motor, affective, and intersubjective experiences that paved in various ways for insights and new practices for the teachers.
The enactive approach were essential for the action research process, if it were to contribute constructively to the transformation of educational policy into a pedagogical practice rooted in the teachers every day work.
Short titleAktionsforskning og bevægelse
Effective start/end date01/08/2001/05/21


  • public school