In the context of increasingly complex challenges facing 21st century school systems, action research has incredible potential to generate transformative learning for educators who engage in the collaborative process. The authors of this paper, a doctoral candidate and an associate professor, recently led an action research study that tackled the problem of high teacher turnover in a school-university partnership context. Using social network theory to guide the study, findings show that the action research process was a transformative learning experience for the individuals and groups involved. The democratic principles of action research with a focus on human relationships were the primary lever through which transformative learning occurred. By centering community-building throughout the process, trust was built among groups of educators that facilitated the collaborative inquiry where transformative learning occurred. Learning in these safe, generative communities created mutuality among school administrators and university faculty partners, which resulted in innovative new teacher support at the school district and redesigned teacher preparation programs at the university.
Keywords: transformative learning, action research, collaborative inquiry, learning community, school-university partnership