Lessons from the lighthouse: action research and learning in tourism and hospitality education

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Witsel, M 2005, 'Lessons from the lighthouse: action research and learning in tourism and hospitality education', in P Tremblay & A Boyle (eds), Proceedings of Sharing tourism knowledge: Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education Conference (CAUTHE), Alice Springs, NT, 1-5 February, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT.

Peer Reviewed



In response to the increasing need for tourism academics to cope with the tripartite load of teaching, research and community service, this discussion paper focuses on a synergetic strategy which enhances teaching and improves student outcomes within tourism and hospitality education, as well as supporting the community and providing input for research purposes. For two years running, the students of the university’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management have engaged in an assessable industry-based research project, which took place at Cape Byron Reserve, a place of outstanding natural beauty as well as a place of cultural significance to the indigenous Arakwal people of Byron Bay. The results of the studies were of value to not only the traditional owners of the land, but also to the management of Cape Byron Trust and National Parks and Wildlife. In addition, the students benefited greatly from the experience, and the research material generated is of use to the academic staff as a basis for further research. This paper does not go into the details of the research results but rather discusses the various rewards of action research in a tourism teaching context. The most valuable strategy was to combine action research and action learning with assessment.