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15.12: Action research

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    Action research: studying yourself and your students

    Assessment for learning emphasizes devising and conducting assessment data in order to improve teaching and learning and so is related to action research (also called teacher research). Action research can lead to decisions that improve a teacher’s own teaching or the teaching of colleagues. Kym, the teacher we described at the beginning of this chapter, conducted action research in her own classroom as she identified a problem of poor student motivation and achievement, investigated solutions during the course on motivation, tried new approaches, and observed the resulting actions.

    Cycles of planning, acting and reflecting

    Action research is usually described as a cyclical process with the following stages (Mertler, 2006).

    • Planning Stage. Planning has three components. First, planning involves identifying and defining a problem. Problems sometimes start with some ill-defined unease or feeling that something is wrong and it can take time to identify the problem clearly so that it becomes a researchable question. The next step, is reviewing the related literature and this may occur within a class or workshop that the teachers are attending. Teachers may also explore the literature on their own or in teacher study groups. The third step is developing a research plan. The research plan includes what kind of data will be collected (e.g. student test scores, observation of one or more students, as well as how and when it will be collected (e.g. from files, in collaboration with colleagues, in spring or fall semester).
    • Acting sage. During this stage, the teacher is collecting and analyzing data. The data collected and the analyses do not need to be complex because action research, to be effective, has to be manageable.
    • Developing an action plan. In this stage, the teacher develops a plan to make changes and implements these changes. This is the action component of action research and it is important that teachers document their actions carefully so that they can communicate them to others.

    Communicating and reflection. An important component of all research is communicating information. Results can be shared with colleagues in the school or district, in an action research class at the local college, at conferences, or in journals for teachers. Action research can also involve students as active participants and if this is the case, communication may include students and parents. Communicating with others helps refine ideas and so typically aids in reflection. During reflection teachers/researchers ask such questions as: “What did I learn?” “What should I have done differently?” “What should I do next?” Questions such as these often lead to a new cycle of action research beginning with planning and then moving to the other steps.

    15.12: Action research is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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