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How Indonesian Higher Education Institutions Use Action Research to Lead Change

Thu, March 12, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Washington Hilton, 2nd, B

Session Submission Type: Group Panel

Description of Session

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are complex, living organizations that must continuously change to sustain active learning environments and successful administrations. Challenges range from gathering reliable data to drive decision making, finding models and opportunities to pilot solutions to problems, building teams for internal and external collaboration, and developing leadership. The USAID-funded Higher Education Leadership and Management project (HELM) developed the Action Research Program (ARP) to support mid-level HEI leaders as they research and design locally relevant change management strategies to solve the challenges of a dynamic education environment and adapt to the changes of reform in Indonesia. The proposed panel addresses the implementation of this Action Research Program through in-depth examination of individual university cases, with attention to practice, processes, challenges and changes that emerged in the Indonesian context.
Indonesia’s higher education system has been highly centralized with policy, curriculum, budget and accreditation emanating from the national government. Higher Education Law no. 12/2012 introduced reform for all public higher education institutions and many have begun to move toward increased policy and management autonomy. Under the new reform put in place with the 2012 Higher Education Law, HEIs have added responsibility for research and outreach for regional development, accessibility and academic success for underserved students, and performance standards.
This panel will focus on HELM’s introduction of action research to pilot strategies that support transformation of higher education in ways that are: 1) responsive to local contexts, people and issues; 2) data-driven and, 3) collaborative across different levels of leadership and stakeholders (Levin, M., & Greenwood, D., 2008; Somekh, B. & K. Zeichner, 2009). The panel presents the contribution of action research to professional development of higher education leaders (Fletcher, M. and O. Zuber-Skerritt, 2008) and toward addressing challenges identified by participating Indonesian universities (McNiff, J., 2013; Stringer, E.T., 2013).
Twenty-five universities and polytechnics have participated in HELM’s ARP, with the first cohort of ten universities completing their research and project implementation in September 2014. The first cohort undertook action research projects in self-identified critical areas of student-centered learning, research centers for regional development, data use for institutional decision-making, and international accreditation. This panel will first introduce the strategy of the HELM ARP to produce locally driven problem identification and changes in leadership. It will then focus on individual HELM ARP projects that have produced real and institutionalized change over two years. The researchers will share methods used to research the issue, promote change from within their institution, and mobilize support across levels of management and outside experts.
The results of the HELM ARP provide examples of how to position action research within higher education. The panelists will share their projects and lessons learned as they attempted to resolve important issues in their respective HEIs. The panel contributes to understanding the transformative possibilities for higher education of action research -- through collaborative, research-based initiatives by the people most affected by the change.
The panel includes a moderator and five panelists. The moderator will present a brief overview of the HELM project, and will moderate a question and answer period. The first panelist will introduce the concept of action research for institutional change management and situate it in the contexts of Indonesian higher education. The following four panelists will present their respective action research projects, providing four case studies from HELM’s Action Research Project, each representing a unique focus, challenges and implementation strategies.

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