Course Title: Minor Thesis-Action Research Through Field Work & (Part A)

Part A: Course Overview

Course ID: 001406

Course Title: Minor Thesis-Action Research Through Field Work & (Part A)

Credit Points: 18

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


630H Management


Sem 1 2006

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Rosalie Holian

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 5943

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

BUSM 1183 - Qualitative Method for Action Research

This course is part of the 3rd year for students completing a MOCC program.

Course Description

This Course aims to meet the needs of organisational consultants and managers involved in the planning and implementation of significant organisational change. It aims to produce graduates with a high degree of self awareness and insight together with a sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of organisational life. The Course demands leadership of students, and is one in which participants are required to take up their authority as consultants and managers and exercise leadership through consistently challenging organisations to look at their practices around change and develop responsible and creative interventions.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

It is expected that successful completion of this Course will mean students will have developed their Action Research and consulting skills and specifically:
• Increased their ability to interpret and intervene appropriately in a client system;
• Designed, successfully undertaken and written up an Action Research project;
• Increased their skills in using qualitative research methods;
• Articulated their consulting practice, and identified the ways in which they want to work as consultants;
• Increased their capacity for recognising their needs for, initiating and responding to supervision;
• Developed a high level understanding of conscious and unconscious dynamics in organisational life and demonstrated a capacity to work with these dynamics in the capacity of consultant/action researcher;
• In the capacity of consultant, designed an intervention that is worked with publicly with the client as a specific piece of Action Research within the project;
• Developed skills in peer supervision through the active consultation to fellow students on the progress and issues in undertaking the Action Research project.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will be undertaking a significant Action Research project in their own or an outside organisation and be working on this project though the year. This work will form the basis of their minor thesis.

Students will self-select into Learning Groups and work together for the year, requesting support from staff as they need it. The groups will be expected to explore their own dynamics in the here-and-now as a way of understanding group dynamics, and as a mirror to their own consulting practice. Additionally, students will provide support and peer supervision to each other on their Action Research work.

Staff consultants also offer one-on-one supervision where students are expected to review their work, and work on problematic issues arising for them in undertaking their Action Research projects, and in working in the program. Supervision may include issues to do with the Action Research project, consulting practice, academic work, learning group and individual issues.

Students will also be expected to present their research in a public seminar, as a contribution to their industry sector. Students will be expected to identify a current issue which is problematic in their industry sector and then design an intervention which assists industry representatives to explore that issue. The student will also need to present their own diagnostic analysis of the issue, and submit this as a paper.

Students will also attend workshops where they will engage in large group work.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students are expected to undertake a literature search relevant to the themes and theories identified in their research.

There is no text book for this course.

Overview of Assessment

Students will be continuously assessed on the extent to which they are taking up the work of the Master’s program in supervision, learning groups, workshops, seminars and in their organisations. Additionally, there are specific assessment criteria for each of the assessment pieces. All assessment is formative and feedback happens continuously through supervision, learning groups, and in written feedback on submitted work.  Assessment is weighted evenly, and students must pass all parts of the assessment to pass the Course.

Action Research Project (Minor Thesis) DUE: APRIL 26.
In action research, knowledge is viewed as a means of coming to terms with the world rather than as a means of representing the world. The philosophy of knowledge is one which has more in common with pragmatism than positivism. The aim is not to arrive at a set of models and beliefs that correspond with reality - rather, to find a set that provides tools for dealing with reality. This means that action research goes further than description. It is about gaining understanding in order to change, to take action. In this program, the piece of ’reality’ that we’re concerned with understanding and changes, is that around organisational change, consulting practice and you. Action is about the activities undertaken by both individuals and groups in an organisation that result in some kind of change or improvement. Research is where new understanding is developed about the dynamics and nature of the organisation, it’s practices and/or it’s processes, and the skills and professional development of the researcher.

Students will be required to complete a major piece of Action Research on where they take up the role of consultant/action researcher to work on an issue concerning change in a client organisation. Specifically, they will be involved in the simultaneous investigation into an issue or problem, the management and organisational issues that surround it and the processes needed to bring about change. Students will be required to continually reflect, evaluate and develop new insights and ideas about the issue in collaboration with their client, supervisor and fellow students, and through the use of qualitative research methodology in a category of Action Research. Finally, students will be required to write up their experience and learnings in the form of a minor thesis which will contribute to knowledge in the particular theoretical area, and identify their own learnings as consultants and researchers as a result of the experience.

Public Intervention (To Be Scheduled over the Year)
At a point during work on their action research projects, students will be required to select a particular issue that they will have identified as problematic in their industry sector. Students may then bring together their clients, relevant industry representatives and peers to jointly investigate the particular problem or issue.  They will also be required to write a paper outlining/describing and analysing this.

Students will be expected to identify issues affecting their Action Research projects, and keep comprehensive data on all interactions and interventions made with the client. It is expected that students will take shared responsibility for the supervision relationship, both initiating supervision contact and identifying the work they need to do. Students will be assessed on their capacity to critically reflect on their practice, take responsibility for their work and the professional development needs they have, and be constantly working on these issues in supervision, in their organisations and in their learning groups. The supervisor may request written work from the student as part of the exploration process.

Students will be expected to demonstrate that they are assuming increased responsibility for their performance in the areas of their own competence as a consultant/action researcher, and ability to objectively analyse their own ability to:
• Clearly take up their authority and influence as consultant/action researcher;
• Critically analyse their work and capacity for modifying action;
• Identify support systems and ask for help;
• Offer support to peers. 

Learning Groups
Students are expected to form Learning Groups of four or five students of their own choosing to provide a structure and process for peer support and learning throughout the year. Learning Groups will be expected to work in the here-and-now, and use the experience of group life and each other as a basis for their exploring their practice as consultants, and the work of their Action Research Projects. These Learning Groups work without a staff member, but may call upon staff as they wish. At the end of each semester, each Learning Group will be required to ’present’ themselves and their work to the larger group, entering into a dialogue about how they have experienced each other and what their work and learning has been. This provides an opportunity for each learning group to present to the whole learning community a report on the learning group’s achievements and stumbling blocks.