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Establishment of the Organisation

The establishment of the Malaysian Action Research Network

On the 7th of July 2021, MARNet held its first virtual meeting with all eight action research PhD holders from diverse disciplines, including Education, TESL, Accounting and Finance. The meeting started with a welcome note by Dr Zailah Zainudin from IPG Kampus Raja Melewar introducing how MARNet was created. MARNet emerged from a Pandemic Pedagogy project at the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020).

Pandemic Pedagogy was a collaborative project undertaken by Dr Zailah Zainudin, Dr Satirah Ahmad and Dr Syafiq Mat Noor, which involved promoting action research among educators to combat teaching and learning challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also mentored nine teachers to conduct action research during that period. The project was supported by the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN), Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia (IPGM) and Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD). Since then, Dr Zailah Zainudin, Dr Satirah Ahmad and Dr Syafiq Mat Noor realised that there is a need to have a network to act as a support system for action research practitioners in Malaysia. 

The meeting continued with all eight members (Assoc Prof Dr Sarimah Shaik Abdullah couldn’t attend due to other commitments) introducing themselves. Most of the members come from the Education field, while Dr Amirul Shah Md Shahbudin comes from an Accounting and Finance background, and Dr Pang Jee Ching from the Social Work field. Some members shared their experiences of undertaking action research PhDs, how universities perceived action research as a methodology for postgraduate studies, and academics’ perceptions of action research in Malaysia. Despite some challenges and struggles, the members viewed action research as a robust methodology for “change” with the critical element of “reflection”. Assoc Prof Dr Fariza Puteh Behak shared her view that action research has become more accepted among academics, and some are even willing to collaborate on action research projects. Therefore, in MARNet, the members suggested that we need to continue to elevate action research as a legitimate form of research for continuous professional development and postgraduate studies.

Dr Zailah Zainudin proposed that MARNet should be officially registered and independent. All the members agreed that MARNet should be run as a society (rather than a Non-organisational Organisation, NGO). Therefore, nine members, including Assoc Prof Dr Sarimah Shaik Abdullah, formed the founding committees of MARNet. Dr Pang Jee Ching shared her view that either way, MARNet should be registered under the Societies Act 1966 by applying to the Registrar of Societies (ROS). MARNet’s constitution will be drafted and shared with the committees. MARNet will also have a website, www.marnet.my, and some of the website functions will become a resource and database platform for action research practitioners in Malaysia. Thus far, we have identified 15 Malaysian researchers who have completed PhDs using an action research methodology, and we will publish their work on the website. The members also gave some feedback regarding the initial draft logo for MARNet. Further development of the logo will be undertaken by professionals and shared with the committees.

In addition, the meeting also discussed the MARNet Conference 2021 in conjunction with the CARN International Conference (CARNival 2021). The conference will run from the 3rd to the 8th of October 2021, in a virtual setting. Darul Aman English Language Learning and Teaching Association (DELTA) has agreed to be a fiscal sponsor to handle the conference’s financing. Assoc Prof Dr Sarimah Shaik Abdullah will deliver a keynote speech on “Living Educational Theory” to reflect the theme of the conference: “Raised Voices”. In the meantime, Assoc Prof Dr Nadarajan Thambu, Dr Satirah Ahmad, Dr Amirul Shah Md Shahbudin, Assoc Prof Dr Fariza, Dr Nazatul Akmar Mokhtar and Dr Pang Jee Ching will deliver symposiums across three evenings. We will also open contributions to educators for Pecha Kucha and Photovoice presentations. The schedule and abstracts of the conference will be shared with CARN, which will publish the programme for international audiences.

Living educational theory research by Professor Jack Whitehead

As part of the meeting, we invited a special guest, Jake Whitehead (a Visiting Professor at the University of Cumbria), to share a few words on “Living Educational Theory Research” and the Educational Journal of Living Theories (EJOLTS). Professor Jack Whitehead shared that:

The idea of living educational theory research is that each one of us present today has got the capacity to create a valid explanation of the educational influences that we are having in our own learning and the learning about students and also most importantly in the learning of the social formations within which our practice is located.

He emphasised that:

The last point [the location of the practice] is really important because we are all influenced by local or national policies. We can’t help but be influenced by the social and cultural factors, in particular, which we are part of.

The meeting also discussed a book proposal. Dr Satirah Ahmad put forward a suggestion that there is a “need” to co-write an action research book in Bahasa Melayu for action research practitioners’ reference. The contributions will only be open to action research PhD holders and will be organised in the near future. In summary, all members were honoured to be part of MARNet and look forward to future collaborations.

I hope that we can do something to change action research perceptions in Malaysia so that more people will perceive action research as a legitimate form of research.

Dr Satirah Ahmad

I am looking forward to the future collaborations, Inshallah

Assoc Prof Dr Fariza Puteh Behak

Thank you for the invitation. I’m looking forward to doing something different to make a difference

Dr Pang Jee Ching

I am honoured to be part of the network, and looking forward to future contributions towards nation-building

Dr Amirul Shah Md Shahbudin

Thank you for the invitation, and I am honoured to meet Jack Whitehead and other members

Dr Nazatul Akmar Mokhtar

I hope that MARNet will become a support system for action research practitioners in Malaysia

Dr Syafiq Mat Noor

It is my ambition to have a platform to include all action research experts and practitioners so that we can further inculcate action research culture among educators in Malaysia

Dr Zailah Zainudin