Action research is a
model of professional development where educators study student learning
related to their own teaching, a process that allows them to learn about
their own instructional practices and to continue to monitor improved student
learning. Richard A. Schmuck (1997) compares action research to looking into a
mirror at oneself taking action. Conducting action research provides educators
with an avenue to reflect on one's own teaching practices and engage in
self-directed learning, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning. In
order to reach optimal learning, teachers must continuously build upon their
knowledge of student learning and intentionally study the instructional
practices they are implementing in the classroom. (Rawlinson & Little, 2004)
Action (teacher) research is a natural extension of good teaching. Observing students
closely, analyzing their needs, and adjusting the curriculum to fit the need of
all students have always been important skills demonstrated by fine teachers.
(Hubbard & Power, 1999)
Action Research is a process through which teachers collaborate in evaluating their practice, try out
new strategies, and record their work in a form that is understandable by other
teachers.( Elliot, 1991)
The Action Research Process
The chart below shows the continuous nature of the process. Action research never really ends because learning
is a cyclical process. An action researcher is always observing,
analyzing, designing, assessing, and adjusting. The cyclical nature of
action research provides teachers with ongoing opportunities to reflect on and
refine their own teaching practices.
The Phases of Action Research
(Click on the appropriate forms below to complete the process for
inservice credit. There are 5 forms that must be turned in with a voucher as
proof of research. Each form is highlighted in red.)
Identifying the Classroom
To begin the action research process, teachers must first observe, questions and
reflect on the actual current situation in order to investigate the classroom
concerns. Take time to refer and complete
Beginning the Action Research Process. This activity consists
of five probing statements to guide this initial phase of action research. After
completing this activity, choose one concern that is most important for the
students, that is a priority learning need, and that can produce positive
results for students. Select a target you can impact. Additionally, it is
critical that you choose a problem that is aligned with the curricular standards
as determined with your grade level, school, district and state. The problem
statement will become the framework of the action research study.
Identifying a Classroom Problem
adequately will help lead to an appropriate goal of improvement for
students that can result in accelerated learning.
Developing and Implementing an Action Research Plan
Before engaging in the "research" of action research, it is helpful to outline
actions by answering the "what?" the "how?" and the "when?" Hubbard and
Power (1999) describe the action research plan as a kind of backbone for the
study -a skeletal frame on which to hang all emerging thought about the research
question, data collection, and how to sustain the research. Before creating th4e
plan, take time to consider different instructional approaches geared towards
meeting students' instructional goals. many teachers work with
knowledgeable resources during this phase while planning their implementation.
When you are ready complete the
Action Research Plan and
Collecting and Analyzing Data
In order to build a complete picture of students' learning and abilities, data
should be gathered from many sources of information. Evidence gathered
from many different sources over a period of time provides a broader and deeper
understanding of students' knowledge and learning. In research
terminology, the process of collecting multiple sources of data for every
problem or issue being studied is called triangulation. (Sagor, 1992)
Examples of classroom data collection tools include, but are not limited to:
observations (checklists, anecdotal records, charts/grids), interviews and
conversations, student work, grades, report cards, cumulative records, and
tests. Look at some of the Cool Tools
for collecting data.
Making Instructional Decisions and Sharing the Results
After planning, teaching, and collecting the data, it is very important to
follow through by analyzing the results of the action research and making
instructional decisions based on the findings. Analyzed data will guide this
critical question in the action research process, "Where do I go next?" In
the process of action research, analyzed data will determine whether to
continue with current practices, revise the action research
plan, or report the results of successes. Once students meet the
instructional goals identified on the action research plan or there is a need to
communicate student performance, it is time to Share and report results.
Examples of Good Classroom Action Research Questions
- How can I help the students in my classroom
feel comfortable working with diverse groupings of classmates and overcome, at
least part of the time, their desire to always be their friends?
- How can I more effectively facilitate
independent writing in my kindergarten classroom?
- How can fifth grade students be encouraged
to write thoughtful inquiry questions for a science fair?
- What kinds of assessments best help me
understand and teach a particular learner with autism?
- What changes in our teaching styles,
curriculum design, materials and professional support are needed to implement
a new math program in our inclusive classroom?
- How does the direct teaching of anger
management skills affect the classroom climate in primary-age school children?
- What classroom strategies re effective in
developing student self-evaluation of their learning?
Santa Rosa Trained Facilitators
(For more information about Action Research, please contact
one of these people.)
- Vickie Beagle - PDC
- Marianne Robey - PDC
- Kenny McCay - County Office
- Ermma Fillingim - Avalon Middle School
- Natalie Sommer - Avalon Middle School
- Colleen Starr - Gulf Breeze High School
- Mae Adkinson - Hobbs Middle School
- Patti Petrie - Hobbs Middle School
- Sharon Patrick -Sims Middle School
- Nancy Rinehart - Rhodes Elementary
Santa Rosa School
District Inservice Component