ACTION RESEARCH “Action research is characterized as research that is done by teachers for themselves” (Mertler, 2009). Teachers examine their own classrooms, instructional strategies, assessment procedures, and interactions with student learners in order to improve their quality and effectiveness.
WHAT ACTION RESEARCH IS AND IS NOTWhat it is… What it is not…• A process that improves • Problem-solving education through change• Collaborative • Doing research on or about people• Cyclical • Linear• Practical and relevant • Conclusive• Within context of teacher’s • Generalizing to larger environment populations• How we can do things better • Why we do certain things• Explores, discovers and seeks • The implementation of to find creative solutions predetermined answers• A way to improve instructional • A fad practice by observing, revising, and reflecting
VIDEO: ACTION RESEARCH MADE SIMPLE Action Research Made Simplehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg83f72_6GwKey Characteristics Addresses Real Life Problems Constructs Knowledge Promotes Change Collaborative / Participatory
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ACTION RESEARCHFERRANCE (2000) Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist and educator, first formulated the idea of performing research in a “natural” setting in the 1940s. No distinction between the research study and the problem to be solved. Proposed that research should be cyclical rather than linear. Stephen Corey was among the first to use action research in education and he stated the following: We are convinced that the disposition to study…the consequences of our teaching is more likely to change and improve our practices than is reading about what someone else has discovered of his teaching (Corey, 1953, p. 70).
MODELS OF ACTION RESEARCH Many models exist but all share the same basic principles which are: A central problem or topic Observation or monitoring takes place Collection and synthesis of data Some type of action is taken Next stage of action research (varies)
ACTION RESEARCH INTERACTING SPIRALERNEST STRINGER (2007)
STEPS IN ACTION RESEARCHFERRANCE (2000) Identify a problem area Meaningful, attainable and within teacher’s influence Higher order question that is specific and concise Collection and organization of data Portfolios, interviews, photos, diaries, field notes, videos, journals, case studies, checklists, surveys Appropriate, easy to collect, and readily available Triangulate data (i.e. use three or more sources) Organize to identify themes; can be arranged by gender, classroom, school, grade level, age, etc. Interpretation of data Analyze and identify major themes Quantitative or qualitative
STEPS IN ACTION RESEARCH Action based on data Use the data collected complemented by current research to develop a plan of action Alter only one variable Document and collect data during action phase Reflection Evaluate the results Was the intervention successful? Can the positive results be directly attributed to the variable addressed? If unsuccessful, what could be done in subsequent attempts to elicit more favorable results?
UNDERSTANDING OUR LEARNERS AND DEVELOPINGREFLECTIVE PRACTICE: CONDUCTING ACTION RESEARCHWITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERSSOWA (2009) The study outlined action research projects of six graduate student teachers in an ESL Methods Course. Three projects are described in the paper and we will outline one of these to show how it reflects the steps of action research. Identify the Problem Students were not able to make “connections between the sound symbol relationships necessary for word decoding in reading and spelling” (Sowa, 2009, p. 1029).
UNDERSTANDING OUR LEARNERS AND DEVELOPINGREFLECTIVE PRACTICE: CONDUCTING ACTION RESEARCHWITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERSSOWA (2009) Gather Data Reading assessment: Pre- and Post-Tests Work Samples Interpret Data A reading pre-test was used as a baseline Student samples showed beginning writing and spelling strategies
UNDERSTANDING OUR LEARNERS AND DEVELOPINGREFLECTIVE PRACTICE: CONDUCTING ACTION RESEARCHWITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERSSOWA (2009) Act on Evidence Re-teach phonemic awareness to try to improve ELLs reading, writing and spelling skills. Taught phonics in context Worked on spelling strategies including letter-sound relationships and letter-sound combinations Evaluate Results Work samples indicated an improvement in spelling and reading but only a slight growth in reading. The reading post-test showed improvement amongst students to decode words and recognize miscues.
ACTION RESEARCH: USING WORDLES FORTEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGE WRITINGBARALT, PENNESTRI, & SELVANDIN (2011) Used Mackey and Gass’s (2005) explanation of action research as framework for study. A very comprehensive research report which includes three sections:1. Explanation of data visualization as a learning tool (creates a rationale for the research study)2. The action research report conducted by the authors using Wordle3. The outcome of the project and suggestions for how educators can use word clouds in foreign language classrooms Context: 18 students in an intermediate-level Spanish FL class at a private research university who met for 50 minutes three times a week. Four compositions were to be written during the semester and students were expected to be able to: present information formally with an introduction, provide supporting paragraphs and a conclusion; use accurate grammar; and use instructors’ feedback in their writing. The expectations were clearly communicated to the students.
ACTION RESEARCH: USING WORDLES FORTEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGE WRITINGBARALT, PENNESTRI, & SELVANDIN (2011) Identify the Problem Two main issues in students’ writing:1. Continuous repetition of errors2. Reliance on high frequency words without attempting to use new vocabulary in writing Data Collection Word frequency counts from students’ compositions and a whole-class-based word cloud. Teaching reflection about the class discussion Instructor asked students about their perceptions of the use of Wordle in the writing process This procedure was used for all four compositions.
ACTION RESEARCH: USING WORDLES FORTEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGE WRITINGBARALT, PENNESTRI, & SELVANDIN (2011) Act on Evidence Wordles helped to show students’ progress Students used more vocabulary in their compositions Facilitated class discussions about the writing process Evaluate Results Both the students and instructor agreed that using Wordles created excitement about writing. Effective, novel, and enjoyable. Students incorporated more varied vocabulary, used grammar more accurately, and had more content in their writing. Workshop days became more student-centered
ACTION RESEARCH: USING WORDLES FORTEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGE WRITINGBARALT, PENNESTRI, & SELVANDIN (2011) Limitations Lack of generalizability Findings of action research are typically only relevant to the specific classroom being investigated, its students and its own unique characteristics It may yield different results in other classrooms, contexts or languages. As with any technology, teachers must ensure that the software works with their computer systems; Wordle requires a Java-enabled web browser
WRITING ACTION RESEARCH REPORTS Reports vary depending on the variables, context, and action involved but most include: Introduction Area of focus Defining the variables Research questions Review of related literature Description of the Intervention or Innovation Data Collection and Considerations Data Analysis and Interpretation Conclusions Reflection and Action Plan (Mertler, 2009) Examples of Action Research Reports written for professional development presentations
DISADVANTAGES OF ACTIONRESEARCH Lack of Time • Action Research is demanding of space and time, both of which are stretched to their limits. Validity • Inevitable research bias Results are not Generalizable • Although a researcher’s findings may be tested by another teacher in their own classroom Range of Models and Process • Action Research is a messy process and the constraints of the models may “trap teachers”
VIDEO: WHAT “NAGS” YOU ABOUTYOUR TEACHING PRACTICE? Video: http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/13909812/action- research
TIME TO REFLECT! After viewing our presentation on action research, what nags you about your teaching practices that you’d like to change? At your table groups, use the questions on the next slide to come up with a possible research question(s) that you could test in you own classroom. Examples include but are not limited to: teaching method, identifying a problem, examining an area of interest, classroom environment, classroom management, evaluation, etc.
ACTIVITY:WRITE ACTION RESEARCH QUESTIONSPINE (2009) I would like to improve by __________________. I am perplexed by _____________________. I am really curious about ____________________. Something I really think would make a difference is _______________________. Something I would really like to change is ____________________. What happens to student learning in my classroom when I ___________________? How can I implement ______________________? How can I improve _______________________?
REFERENCES Baralt, M., Pennestri, S., & Selvandin, M. (2011). Using Wordles to TeachForeign Language Writing. Language Learning & Technology, 15(2), 12-22. Ferrance, E. (2000). Action Research. Providence, RI, USA. RetrievedNovember 14, 2012 fromhttp://www.lab.brown.edu/pubs/themes_ed/act_research.pdf Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2005). 7.5.2 Action Research. In SecondLanguage Research: Methodology and Design (pp. 216-220). Mahwah, New Jersey:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mertler, C. (2009). Action Research. Thousand Oaks, California, USA:Sage Publications, Inc. Pine, G. (2009). Teacher Action Research. Thousand Oaks, California:Sage Publications, Inc. Sowa, P. A. (2009). Understanding our learners and developing reflectivepractice: Conducting action research with English Language Learners. Teaching andTeacher Education, 25(8), 1026-1032. Stringer, E. T. (2007). Action Research (3rd ed.). London: SagePublications, Inc. Waters-Adams, S. (2006). Action Research in EducationRetrieved November 14, 2012 fromhttp://www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/resined/actionresearch/arhome.htm