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Mike Thorpe, Director

Action Research

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.

Action Research Process

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 Problem

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 Implementation Schedule.

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

  1. 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?
  2. How can I more effectively facilitate independent writing in my kindergarten classroom?
  3. How can fifth grade students be encouraged to write thoughtful inquiry questions for a science fair?
  4. What kinds of assessments best help me understand and teach a particular learner with autism?
  5. What changes in our teaching styles, curriculum design, materials and professional support are needed to implement a new math program in our inclusive classroom?
  6. How does the direct teaching of anger management skills affect the classroom climate in primary-age school children?
  7. What classroom strategies re effective in developing student self-evaluation of their learning?

Additional Resources

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



Trained Facilitators

For more information about Action Research, please contact one of these Santa Rosa trained facilitators.

  • Vickie Beagle - PDC
  • Marianne Robey - PDC
  • Kenny McCay - County Office
  • Ermma Fillingim - Avalon Middle
  • Natalie Sommer - Avalon Middle
  • Colleen Starr - Gulf Breeze High
  • Mae Adkinson - Hobbs Middle
  • Patti Petrie - Hobbs Middle
  • Sharon Patrick -Jay Elementary
  • Nancy Rinehart - Rhodes Elementary

SRC Inservice Component - Action Research