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December 2009
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  1. Volume 2 Month 12 Day 25- ACTION RESEARCH IN CLASSROOM


    Action Research in Classroom


    Action research is a research that is carried out by the practitioners to improve their own practices or to solve the problems of workplace. Learn about action research and be a RESEARCHER TEACHER!

    Read and learn how to do action research in your classroom!


    What is Action Research?


    Taking action to improve teaching and learning plus systematic study of the action and its consequences.


    It is typically designed and conducted by practitioners who analyze data from their workplace to improve their own practice.


    ACTION RESEARCH is a rather simple set of ideas and techniques that can introduce you to the power of systematic reflection on your practice. Our basic assumption is that you have within you the power to meet all the challenges of the teaching profession. Furthermore, you can meet these challenges without wearing yourself down to a nub.


    The secret of success in the profession of teaching is to continually grow and learn. Action research is a way for you to continue to grow and learn by making use of your own experiences. The only theories involved are the ideas that you already use to make sense of your experience. Action research literally starts where you are and will take you as far as you want to go.


    Five Steps to Action Research

    1.      Making the commitment (The call to enquiry)

                                    i.            A professional stance

                                  ii.            A way of learning about your classroom:

    a.       What is working

    b.      Who is learning

                                iii.            A way of learning about yourself as a teacher


    The first step in the process of doing action research is to make a commitment. Getting off to a good start is important in anything new that you try. This is true of new skills, new friendships, a new class at school, a new job. Getting started in action research requires beginning well by taking time to think about your life in classrooms. It is an inquiry—asking questions about things that others might take for granted. What is working in your classroom, in your teaching? Who is learning? Who is being left out? How does your curriculum provide opportunity to learn? When do you feel like you are “losing it”? Questions such as these can be uncomfortable to ask. They may produce even more discomforting answers. But, unless and until teachers grapple with the hard questions, we will remain powerless to do very much to improve life in classrooms. Therefore, in short, action research is a way of learning about yourself as a teacher, as a person, and as a guide to learning and development for your students.


    2.      Designing a study (Questions and answers)


    The hardest part of designing an action research study is framing a good question. Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.” Avoid questions to which you already know the answer (action research is not very good at proving that “method A is superior to method B”). Action research helps you understand the consequences of your action.


    So what makes for a good question?

    Good questions are free of educational jargon. They use simple everyday words that make the point clear to all. They do not prejudge the result. One of the first activities you can do is make a list of questions and topics that you have about your classroom or your teaching or both. Try starting with, “I wonder what would happen if . . .” (This could be part of your 10 minutes a day.) You can always reframe a statement as a question. Choose one question or topic on which you can spend some time. Ask yourself why this question is interesting to you, how you might go about answering it, and what might be the benefit of answering it. If, after this conversation with yourself, you are still interested in the question, do a reality check by trying it out on a colleague.


    Developing your question

    ·         Write a first draft

    ·         Share it with a colleague

    ·         Grow it a little—make it researchable


    Questions emerge in different forms. Most often, the first draft of the question is steeped in the reality of your classroom. We call these first draft questions. As an example, take the following question: “Why are some kids in my class so mean and nasty to each other?” Following the advice we have just given you, if this were your question, you would go off to a colleague or friend and try it out. In the process, you would begin to think about how on earth you are going to answer that question in a way that would help you to improve the situation. In other words, we don’t want you to say to yourself, “Oh. It’s their parents!” The answer for you has to include something that you can do, some action that you can take in your classroom. So, the question is likely to change to become more researchable. “How can I help the kids in my class develop a respectful classroom community?” would lead you toward action.


    What is a typical timeline?


    SEPTEMBER Write about your wonderings, talk about them with colleagues, decide on a question to follow, an action to take.


    OCTOBER Write about the context of your question (why is it important to you?), start to collect data using one familiar and one new research tool.


    NOVEMBER Write about the data you have collected so far. Reshape your question if you need to. Start to read (and take notes) about your issue. Think about what you have learned so far and what further action(s) you need to take.


    DECEMBER Write a series of short profiles of what you have been reading about your topic. (These will be useful to you later on when you are analyzing your data.) Try another tool. Keep on collecting data.


    JANUARY Keep collecting data. Write about what you have learned so far. Ask yourself whether it resonates with what you have been reading about the topic.


    FEBRUARY Begin your analysis. Try different ways of representing your data succinctly. Think about how your data relates to your reading. You may want to try a new action or set of actions at this point. Monitor the impact!


    MARCH Keep analyzing your data. Begin writing about what you have learned. Be sure that you have data to support your claims.


    APRIL Develop a draft of your study.


    MAY Finish your work. Be sure to include what you have learned and how your practice has changed.


    JUNE Find a way to share your study with others and plan to do another study!


    The typical timeline described here includes all of the steps of the action research process. They are distributed evenly across the school year. Your task is to fit these steps into the reality and constraints of your school year.


    3.      Making sense of experience (Data analysis)


    Data and Analysis


    Data Collection tools-

    Everyday tools of inquiry

    ·         CLASSROOM MAPS






    ·         SURVEYS





    ·         Look critically at the setup and decoration of the classroom.

                              Whose work is up on the walls? How is the seating arranged?

    ·         Track movement flow—your own, a child’s, a group.

    ·         Track verbal flow—conversation between teachers and students and conversation among students.


    Do not forget to draw a map! Once you have done that, you can make multiple copies and use them to help you gather data to answer a variety of questions like those that we have listed above.




    ·         Always Date

    ·         Regularly Jot Down Time

    ·         On-site/Off-site

    ·         Focus on Particulars

    ·         Write Fast

    ·         Write Down Actual Quotes

    ·         Don’t Censor




    Sometimes we will make a quick sketch of something—an activity, the way two kids were relating to one another. A sketch is like visual notes. It helps us to remember something and can be more descriptive than the words we could get down in the time it takes to make the sketch. The same is true of photographs. We love to take pictures of students at work, of activities in progress, even of stages of an activity.

    Teachers can make sketches and photographs in the same notebook that they use to record anecdotal records and time samples. Reasoning is that like anecdotal records and time samples, these will later need a descriptive piece beside them, and they will invite reflection and theory building. Student work is just that—an artifact, a sample of an individual’s, small group’s, or entire class’ work collected over time. Depending on your question, both types of classroom artifacts can be very helpful data. Samples of student work can demonstrate individual or whole group progress. They can show you how students are making sense of concepts and how they are using them.




    ·         Always note date, time, place, and name of the person(s) being interviewed.

    ·         Think ahead about your goal for this conversation or interview.

                 What do you want to learn?

    ·         Decide ahead about audio taping and check your equipment.

    ·         Do not ask questions that give you “yes”/ “no” answers.

    ·         Be a good listener.


    Interviews and conversations are great research tools. Formal interviews are those that you script for yourself prior to the interview—you ask the same questions of everyone to whom you talk and you ask these questions in the same order. Informal interviews are those that you quite literally enter into on the spur of the moment. Whichever you use (and you might use both), you will need to plan ahead. To prepare, especially for an informal interview or conversation, you need to really think about what you would want to learn about.




    ·         Good for large groups or a whole class when you want comparative data

    ·         Types of questions you ask are important

    ·         Time it takes to complete is important


    Surveys are great for getting information from a whole class or a large group. However, be careful about the types of questions you ask and how many questions you ask. If you do not want to have to develop ways of coding your data, do not ask open-ended questions that invite thoughtful, often unanticipated answers.

    A sociogram is an analytical tool used to help you portray the social networks in your classroom. They are particularly useful if you are trying to figure out how to change the interactive dynamic of the class. But they are also useful if you’re just trying to figure out how to group kids for instruction. To develop the data for a sociogram, you ask every child in your class the same three questions, for example,

    (1) If I were to form reading groups of four kids, who would you like to have in your group?

    (2) If I were to have four kids stay for lunch with me, who would you like to have in your group?

    (3) If you were a new student in the class, which three kids would you suggest I ask to help you learn the ropes?

    Questions can be asked orally but you need to record students’ answers so you have data to draw on as you begin to map their responses.



    ·         The critical tool in your inquiry


    We feel that every teacher researcher should keep a research journal. Your research journal is like the best diary that ever was! It could have everything—the 10 minutes a day of writing that you are doing about your question, your notes from your anecdotal records, your reflections on those notes, your notes from background reading that you have done on your topic. It could, on the other hand, just be the place you record your thoughts about your research. Whatever, try to set it up so it really is a friendly place for you to write and so that it becomes precious to you. Do not leave it lying around in your classroom. This is where you think on paper. You want to keep it as a special place that you come to for special work on something that is of great importance to you.


    Organizing Your Data

    You should plan to use at least three different tools (do not, for example, use only questionnaires and surveys—they are the same thing). This is done for the purpose of triangulation. It helps you to be sure that the results you think you are getting are real and will stand up to scrutiny.


    The data collection tools that you use will determine how you organize your data. We love charts and graphs and tables. These graphic forms of data organization can quickly show patterns, time sequences, relationships, and missing pieces. The process of creating a chart, table, or graph forces you to move from tiny details to a bigger picture; from hunch to substantiated claim.


    Here are some suggestions about how to get started. Try spreading out your data on the living room floor. Look at all that you have collected. Begin simply by sorting according to the tools that you used. Ask yourself what each tool is telling you about your question. Begin with the earliest samples. Describe them. (How would you sum up what you are seeing to someone on the other end of the phone?) Move on to later samples. What has changed? This essentially describes the universe of evidence that you have gathered using that particular tool. Now do the same with the other tools you have used.


    Analyzing Your Data


    Analysis is the heart of making sense of your experience with action research. Analysis is fun and messy. It always begins with your data. Data never speak for themselves. Please remember this. Data never speak for themselves. Your mind is the most important analytical tool that you have. Analysis is a process of telling a convincing story about the sense that your data led you to make. As well, you must persuade a sceptical audience that the story that you tell and the sense that you make are supported by evidence.

    There are two major sources of support for your evidence:

    1.      The first is the data you have collected and the patterns that you see.

    2.      The second is equally important. It is what others have learned about this topic. If you have not already read other research and theory on your topic, now is the time to do it. This is critical to situating your work. If, for example, you find that the action you took has results that are very similar to those of other researchers, then you know your analysis is in the ballpark. Essentially, you can borrow from the authority of others that have come before you to strengthen the claims that you will make for the action that you took. If, however, your results contradict prior research, then you are well on the way to forming a provocative new question about why your study yielded such different results. You have something interesting to talk about with colleagues and with other researchers. Either way, what you learn locally can become part of a larger conversation among educators and researchers.


    As you develop your analysis of data, here are the steps that you should follow:



    Describe the action(s) that you took.

    Reflect on the evidence you have collected.

    Count. Look for patterns.

    Share the evidence with colleagues.

    Examine what different explanations could explain the data (draw on prior   research)       

    Revisit assumptions about the children and the learning situation.

    Formulate a trial explanation.

    Develop an argument with evidence and claims.


    4. Improve your Practice

    You are about to DO something different in your classroom! So, one last check:




    Does the evidence support your claims?

    Do your colleagues find your argument credible?

    How does the argument fit into ongoing debates and conversations?

    What is unique about your setting or context?

    Will others find your argument useful?

    5. Beginning Again (New and better question)


    Once you have completed your first study, you should start another—just to see how good your decisive action is! Be a researcher teacher…!



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