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Forgot your login information? By: Ernest T. Action research in teaching and learning Chapter 1: Action Research in Teaching and Learning. Stringer, E. Action research in teaching and learning. In Integrating teaching, learning, and action research: Enhancing instruction in the K—12 classroom pp. Stringer, Ernest T. Christensen and Shelia C.
The action research process can help you understand what is action research in teaching and learning in your classroom and identify changes that improve teaching and learning.
Action research can help answer questions you have about the effectiveness of specific instructional strategies, the performance of specific students, and classroom management techniques. Educational research often seems removed from the realities of the classroom. For many classroom educators, formal experimental research, including the use of a control group, seems to contradict the mandate to improve learning for all students.
Even quasi-experimental research with no control group seems difficult to implement, given the variety of learners and diverse learning needs present in every classroom. Action research gives you the benefits of research in the classroom without these obstacles.
Believe it or not, you are probably doing some form of research already. Every time you change a lesson plan or try a new approach with your students, you are engaged in trying to figure out what works.
Even though you may not acknowledge it as formal research, you are still investigating, implementing, reflecting, and refining your approach. Qualitative research acknowledges the complexity of the classroom learning environment. While quantitative research can help us see that improvements or declines have occurred, it does not help us identify the causes of those improvements or declines. Action research provides qualitative data you can use to adjust your curriculum content, delivery, and instructional practices to improve student learning.
Action research helps you implement informed change! Today we use the term to describe a practice of reflective inquiry undertaken with the goal of improving understanding and practice. Action research also helps you take charge of your personal professional development.
As you reflect on your own actions and observe other master teachers, you will identify the skills and strategies you would like to add to your own professional toolbox. As you research potential solutions and are exposed to new ideas, you will identify the skills, management, and instructional training needed to make the changes you want to see. Action research is a cycle of inquiry and reflection. During the process, you will determine 1 where you are, 2 where you want to be, and 3 how you are going to get there.
Action research in teaching and learning general terms, the cycle follows these steps:. The process begins when you identify a question or problem you want to address. Action research is most successful when you have a personal investment, so make sure the questions you are asking are ones YOU want to solve. This could be an improvement you want to see happen in your classroom or your school if you are a principalor a problem you and your colleagues would like to address in your district.
Learning to develop the right questions takes time.
Your ability to identify these key questions will improve with each iteration of the research cycle. Choose questions that can be answered within the context of your daily teaching.
"Effective learning in the classroom depends on the teacher's ability to maintain the interest that brought students to the course in Action Research Questions.
In other words, choose a question that is both answerable and worthy of the time investment required to learn the answer. Questions you could ask might involve management issues, curriculum implementation, instructional strategies, or specific student performance. For example, you might consider:.
Before you can start collecting data, you need to have a clear vision of what success looks like. Start by brainstorming words that describe the change you want to see. What strategies do you already know that might help you get there? Which of these ideas do you think might work better than what you are currently doing? To find out if a new instructional strategy is worth trying, conduct a review of literature.
The important thing is to explore a range of articles and reports on your topic and capitalize on the research and experience of others. Your classroom responsibilities are already many and may be overwhelming. A review of literature can help you identify useful strategies and locate information that helps you justify your action plan. The Web makes literature reviews easier to accomplish than ever before. Even if the full text of an article, research paper, or abstract is not available online, you will be able to find citations to help you locate the source materials at your local library.
Collect as much information on your problem as you can find. As you explore the existing literature, you will certainly find solutions and strategies that others have implemented to solve this problem. You may want to create a visual map or a table of your problems and target performances with a list of potential solutions and supporting citations in the middle.
Now that you have identified the problem, described your vision of how to successfully solve it, and reviewed the pertinent literature, you need to develop a plan of action. What is it that you intend to DO? Brainstorming and reviewing the literature should have provided you with ideas for new techniques and strategies you think will produce better results. Refer back to your visual map or table and color-code or reorder your potential solutions.
You will want to rank them in order of importance and indicate the amount of time you will need to spend on these strategies. How can you implement these techniques? How will you? Translate these solutions into concrete steps you can action research in teaching and learning will take in your classroom. Write a description of how you will implement each idea and the time you will take to do it.
Once you have a clear vision of a potential solution to the problem, explore factors you think might be keeping you and your students from your vision of success. Recognize and accept those factors you do not have the power to change—they are the constants in your equation.
Focus your attention on the variables—the parts of the formula you believe your actions can impact. Develop a plan that action research in teaching and learning how you will implement your solution and how your behavior, management style, and instruction will address each of the variables.
Before you begin to implement your plan of action, you need to determine what data will help you understand if your plan succeeds, and how you will collect that data. Your target performances will help you determine what you want to achieve. What results or other indicators will help you know if you achieved it? For example, if your goal is improved attendance, data can easily be collected from your attendance records.The general goal is to create a simple, practical, repeatable process of iterative learning, evaluation, and improvement that leads to increasingly better results for schools, teachers, or programs. A simple illustrative example:. Unlike more formal research studies, such as those conducted by universities and published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, action research is typically conducted by the educators working in the district or school being studied—the participants—rather than by independent, impartial observers from outside organizations. Less formal, prescriptive, or theory-driven research methods are typically used when conducting action research, since the goal is to address practical problems in a specific school or classroom, rather than produce independently validated and reproducible findings that others, outside of the context being studied, can use to guide their future actions or inform the design of their academic programs. In schools, action research refers to a wide variety of evaluative, investigative, and analytical research methods designed to diagnose problems or weaknesses—whether organizational, academic, or instructional—and help educators develop practical solutions to address them quickly and efficiently. Action research may also be called a cycle of action or cycle of inquiry , since it typically follows a predefined process that is repeated over time. That said, while action research is typically focused on solving a specific problem high rates of student absenteeism, for example or answer a specific question Why are so many of our ninth graders failing math? Action research may also be applied to programs or educational techniques that are not necessarily experiencing any problems, but that educators simply want to learn more about and improve.
If the goal is increased time on task, the data may include classroom and student observations. There are many options for collecting data. Choosing the best methodologies for collecting information will result in more accurate, meaningful, and reliable data. Obvious sources of data include observation and interviews. As you observe, you will want to type or write notes or dictate your observations into a cell phone, iPod, or PDA. You may want to keep a journal during the process, or even create a blog or wiki to practice your technology skills as you collect data.
Reflective journals are often used as a source of data for action research. You can also collect meaningful data from other records you deal with daily, including attendance logs, grade reports, and student portfolios.
You could distribute questionnaires, watch videotapes of your classroom, and administer surveys. Examples of student work are also performances you can evaluate to see if your goal is being met.
Create a plan for data collection and follow it as you perform your research.
If you are going to interview students or other teachers, how many times will you do it? At what times during the day? How will you ensure your respondents are representative of the student population you are studying, including gender, ability level, experience, and expertise?
Your plan will help you ensure that you have collected data from many different sources. Each source of data provides additional information that will help you answer the questions in your research plan.
You may also want to have students collect data on their own learning. Not only does this provide you with additional research assistants, it empowers students to take control of their own learning.
As students keep a journal during the process, they are also reflecting on the learning environment and their own learning process. The next step in the process is to analyze your data and form conclusions. Start early! Examining the data during the collection process can help you refine your action plan. Is the data you are collecting sufficient? If not, you have an opportunity to revise your data collection plan.
Your analysis of the data will also help you identify attitudes and performances to look for during subsequent observations. Analyzing the data also helps you reflect on what actually happened.
Did you achieve the outcomes you were hoping for? Where you able to carry out your actions as planned? Were any of your assumptions about the problem incorrect? Adding data such as opinions, attitudes, and grades to tables can help you identify trends relationships and correlations. For example, if you are completing action research to determine if project-based learning is impacting student motivation, graphing attendance and disruptive behavior incidents may help you answer the question.
A graph that shows an increase in attendance and a decrease in the number of disruptive incidents over the implementation period would lead you to believe that motivation was improved. Draw tentative conclusions action research in teaching and learning your analysis. Since the goal of action research is positive change, you want to try to identify action research in teaching and learning behaviors that move you closer to your vision of success.
That way you can adjust your actions to better achieve your goal of improved student learning. Action research is an iterative process. The data you collect and your analysis of it will affect how you approach the problem and implement your action plan during the next cycle. Even as you begin drawing conclusions, continue collecting data. This will help you confirm your conclusions or revise them in light of new information. While you can plan how long and often you will collect data, you may also want to continue collecting until the trends have been identified and new data becomes redundant.