Guidelines for Practice-Based Enquiry - For 2016 Cohort of MA ELM





Course Description

The course involves active critical consideration of participation in an educational leadership inquiry in relation to professional context mapping and workplace learning. These processes will be achieved through partnership with an established educational institution, purposeful mentoring and guidance and a process of engaging in an action research project relevant to the candidate’s educational context. Students will be assessed on a reflective report presented to the department utilising evidence from their field experience.


This Practice-Based Inquiry involves the following tasks:

  • Six (6) weeks of field observation in an educational institution on ISSUES OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT.
  • A maximum of 30 hours of observation within the period. At least five (5) hours of observation per week. Students must visit a school/department at least once a week.
  • A written REFLECTIVE REPORT of your observation.

Guidelines on Observation

A.    Pick an introductory letter from office of the School Administrator and submit it to the educational institution/organisation in which you intend to carry out the observation.

B.     Once the authorities in the educational institution/organisation agree to your request, arrange specific days/times of your visits. Please no unannounced visits!

C.     Be courteous, respectful and professional whenever you visit the institution/organisation.

D.    First day of observation: Have open mind, no specific topic in mind and observe as much as you can. Note that day one is an exploratory visit. Issues observed should relate to one or more of the course units studied. Note as many issues of importance as you can.

E.     Before Subsequent Observations: Decide on the issue/topic you want to focus on for further observation. Which of the many issues you observed on the first day is of interest to you and why? Is the issue or topic relevant? How will the outcome improve your own learning and that of your colleagues? The issue or topic should relate to one or more courses in the MA Educational Leadership and Management programme. The outcome should also support your learning. At this stage, you would need to confer with your Supervisor on options of topics available to you and the specific one you want to/can focus on. That is a must!

F.      Subsequent Observations: Now focus observation on the chosen topic or issue. Observe the issue and take notes on every visit.  Please this is a non-participatory and non-obstructive observation. However, feel free to involve yourself in the activities when they invite you provided it will benefit your observation.

Guidelines on Reflective Report Writing

The report should include the following:

  • A brief background information on the institution/organisation/department in which the observation was conducted.
  • Organisational structure of the institution. This is to help situate your study with the scheme of things in the organisation.
  • Practical Activity: Description of what you observed. This is where you write about the topic/issue you observed, why you think that was important to focus on, and what you actually observed. Step A above (on what to do Before the Report) will help you to gather what to put under what you actually observed
  • Lessons Learned: Answer   these questions: What did you learn from this observation? How relevant is the outcome of your field-based enquiry to your studies in Educational Leadership and Management? What in your view can improve your practice and why?
  • Conclusion: What do you want readers to take away from your study? What does the outcome mean?  Recapture the essence of your study.
  • Recommendation(s): Based on the outcome of your observation, you can make recommendation(s) for action in the organisation/institution you observed. You can also make recommendation(s) regarding what you and your colleagues should do when they become school leaders.
  • Remember to read over your report and get it edited and properly formatted before final submission. Include citations and references if you involve other people’s work. Use APA format.
  • Your final Report should be between 2000 and 2500 words.

Schedule of Activities

You are required to:

  • Submit your chosen issue/topic to your Supervisor for Special Topic.
  • Submit the final paper to your Supervisor before the end of the sandwich semester. The last day of Sandwich Semester 2 is the last day of submission.

Final Report Submission Format

Submit a printed (hard) copy of your final report to your Supervisor latest by the last day of Sandwich Semester 2.

Assessment Guide

Assessment of reflective report will focus on the extent to which the student has addressed the items under the Guidelines on Reflective Report Writing above


Questions on how to use the guidelines should be directed to your Supervisor for Special Topic.