IBSC Action Research in Boys' Schools

For 12 years, the IBSC Action Research initiatives have provided opportunities for teachers to explore new trends in boys’ education and examine better ways of equipping boys with the 21st century skills [1], [2] required to navigate a changing world.

Past IBSC Action Research projects have investigated various thought-provoking topics:

  • 2016-17: Collaboration and the Power of Learning Groups
  • 2015-16: Boys as Global Citizens
  • 2014-15: Boys as Makers
  • 2013-14: Character Education
  • 2012-13: Creativity Through Digital Technologies
  • 2011-12: Mining Key Pedagogical Approaches
  • 2010-11: Languages, Leadership, and Libraries
  • 2009-10: Boys and Writing
  • 2008-09: Boys and Masculinity
  • 2007-08: Positive Relationships / Positive Learning
  • 2006-07: Boys and Digital Literacy

2017-18 Adaptability in a Changing World

Adaptability requires flexibility and the ability create a new plan when things change. Adaptable people are often creative. They are willing to learn new things and try different ways of solving problems. They work well independently and happily take on new roles and challenges, but also perform well in teams because they are open to other people’s ideas. Resilient by nature, they persist through difficult situations; failure does not discourage them. Because they are flexible, they are far more likely to be happy and successful in the long term.[3]

However, with the many pressures facing boys in our schools today — such as the focus on high academic achievement and university admissions, local and global competition, the need to be “the best” in sporting and cultural activities, conforming to the stereotypes suggested by the world of social media and advertising — it can be difficult to focus on important “soft skills” like creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration (the 4Cs)[4]. As boys study or train for longer hours, juggle extra lessons to improve academic performance, or spend time on additional coaching in sports and cultural activities, there is little time for the very things that develop adaptability — like exploring and experimenting through creative activities, taking risks and failing, growing resilience, and taking time to be mindful and reflect.

Program Timeline

From February 2017 onward, researchers will complete the following steps:

  • February 2017: Researchers will spend time reviewing the team’s working website and submit a short biographical introduction with a photo to the Program Coordinator to post on the site.
  • March – June 2017: Researchers will meet their Team Advisors and participate in guided online discussions with fellow researchers. Researchers must familiarize themselves with the various technologies used for these interactions. Discussions will focus on selected readings on both the action research process and the research topic. Researchers must complete short online activities based on these readings, which will guide the development of their final research proposal.
  • 23 – 25 June 2017: Researchers will attend an orientation and training program in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The training starts at 9:00 AM on Friday, 23 June, and concludes at 2:00 PM on Sunday, 25 June.
  • 25 – 28 June 2017: Following orientation and training, researchers will attend the 2017 IBSC Annual Conference.
  • July/August 2017 – May 2018: Supported online through the stages of the project by a Team Advisor and fellow researchers, researchers will undertake an action research project in their school. They will actively participate in regular online discussions during the project period, and will meet established deadlines for completing the stages of research and presentation of findings. The first submission, a detailed research proposal, is required by the middle of August 2017, so researchers should factor this into any holiday plans after the IBSC Annual Conference.
  • May 2018: Researchers will submit their action research findings as a written report or alternate final product approved by the Program Coordinator. The written report will span 3,000 – 5,000 words. It is the researcher’s responsibility to ensure the report is formally edited and correctly referenced, using the IBSC Action Research guidelines. The IBSC reserves the right to further edit the final report in preparation for publishing on its website. Participants seeking to publish or present their projects elsewhere are encouraged to do so, but must give appropriate acknowledgement to the IBSC as the sponsoring organization.
  • May – June 2018: Researchers will produce a short multimedia presentation and a poster of their Action Research project to display and present at the IBSC Annual Conference. The presentation and poster will be published with the report on the IBSC website as a resource for educators.
  • 7 July 2018: Researchers will meet with their Team Advisor and their fellow researchers the day before the 2018 IBSC Annual Conference opens in Southport, Australia, to finalize and share their presentations ahead of the conference
  • 8 – 11 July 2018: Researchers will attend the 2018 IBSC Annual Conference to present their research findings. They will participate in poster discussion sessions, and report on their projects in workshop sessions.


Contact Margot Long, Action Research Coordinator, at longma@stjohnscollege.co.za with questions about the research topic or the Action Research process.

[1] Liberty concepts. (2013). The Glossary of Education Reform. Retrieved 2 August 2015, from http://edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/

[2] Tony Wagner. (2016). Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills

[3] Kang, S.K. (2015) The Dolphin Parent. pp. 85 - 94 Toronto: Penguin

[4] Framework for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved from P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework

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