Local consultants repeatedly encoraged th need to work in "a friendly and amicable way" with all participants (Atagi, 2002: 46).
The facilitators' role is very important for the introduction of new concepts, approaches and methodologies. If after the initial workshops and training are completed, there are not resource persons to facilitate, encourage and answer questions about reform approaches, it is doubtful that desired outcomes will be achieved (Atagi, 2002: 65).
The facilitators should provide both technique and moral supports and act as agents of change. They have to give teachers resources, answer teachers questions, give teachers confidence in implementing new approaches (Atagi, 2002: 66-67).
The external researchers should share the same interests and were wiling to learn along with the schools. They are required to provide supervision for school staff and to conduct research on how to motivate and lead the school to successful reform (Khemmani, 2006: 118).
The supervisors (researchers/facilitators in this case) should to be amicable (khemmani, 2006: 119). They have to have two particular qualifications: profound understanding of the subject matter and the ability to explain to teachers (khemmani, 2006: 119).
Kosmidou and Usher (1991: 28) state that the facilitator's task lies in helping practitioners to get where they want to get, not in getting them to where the researchers think they should get to. While we share this view, we regard it as important to make two points. First, participants in action research are not always clear about gols, and certainly not at the outset. Becoming clear about goals is one of the goals. Second, it is not always clear when help and intervention become directive. The facilitator has to do more than merely convene the group. "we must decide when to provide further challenge, when to proceed, when to allow discussions to diverge and take their course, when and how far to allow teachers to decide where the program will go. There is no simple recipe for when and how to act (Hardy & Kirkwood, 1994: 243)" (Pedretti and Hodson, 1995: 471).
Pedretti and Hodson (1995: 472) describe the roles of the principal researcher as facilitator as follow:
- A catalyst or change agent: encouraging critical feedback, stimulating teacher/researchers to generate a number of perspectives on the problems and data, providing a reference point and sounding board for teachers; reflection.
- A facilitator: establishing group identity, common language and theoretical framework, encouraging collaboration, providing motivation and support, taking responsibility for organizational matters.
- A teacher of action research: framing the principles of operation, explaining the rationale, providing models of how to proceed in self-reflection, decision-making and working through the cycles of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting.
- A critic in the process: questioning and challenging assumptions, encouraging others to do so, offering alternative explanations to ensure conclusions are thought through carefully.
- A group recorder: recording feeding back notes on meeting, providing a sense of history and continuity, creating a sense of progress. (producing a collaborative article)
- A source of personal support: acting in a supportive and encouraging role, particularly in times of participant doubt and confusion, and taking responsibility (when appropriate) for some of the teachers' normal workload, thereby allowing them to participate in activities that would otherwise be impossible.
- A resource person: locating and gaining access to potential resources for STS-related issues or material relevant to action research.
- A source for a second-order inquiry: recording not only the findings and the development of the teachers as teacher-researchers, but also documenting the evolving action research process itself.
Encouraging teachers to articulate their views for the benefit of other teachers is something that we (authors) will henceforth incorporate into our strategy for all action research activities (Pedretti and Hodson, 1995: 474).
Making a space for all (teachers) to contribute, building a climate of trust and support, recognizing and affirming development and change, are all key elements in the facilitator's role (Pedretti and Hodson, 1995: 476).
For the facilitator, it is a matter of achieving an appropriate balance of challenge and support, suited to the individual concerned (Pedretti and Hodson, 1995: 478).
Collaborative action research has also been beneficial to the local researchers as the following (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 17-18):
- The local researchers have contributed to an awareness rousing for the necessity for whole-school learning reform for developing quality of learners as well as instill faith in the teaching profession among the principals and teachers;
- There has been clear evidence of the local researchers' contributions to the capacity building and academic enhancement among the teachers and principals;
- Academic support;
- local researchers have been able to enhance their academic competencies and initiate a variety of strategies;
- Local researchers are ready to apply the R&D outcomes from collaboration with the pilot schools for further development of their teaching responsibilities.
Aware: from observation of actual situation, appreciate the problems and needs of the schools;
Attempt: organize training; provide technical and moral support;
Achieve: Initiate the collaborative networks between higher education institutions and schools (Piya-Ajariya, 2002: 19)