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Cooper Anderson
Cooper Anderson

Action Research In Teaching And Learning

As one of many approaches to educational research, it is important to distinguish the potential purposes of action research in the classroom. This book focuses on action research as a method to enable and support educators in pursuing effective pedagogical practices by transforming the quality of teaching decisions and actions, to subsequently enhance student engagement and learning. Being mindful of this purpose, the following aspects of action research are important to consider as you contemplate and engage with action research methodology in your classroom:

Action Research in Teaching and Learning

While we can debate the idea of action research, there are people who are action researchers, and they use the idea of action research to develop principles and theories to guide their practice. Action research, then, refers to an organization of principles that guide action researchers as they act on shared beliefs, commitments, and expectations in their inquiry.

Research is concerned with the generation of knowledge, and typically creating knowledge related to a concept, idea, phenomenon, or topic. Action research generates knowledge around inquiry in practical educational contexts. Action research allows educators to learn through their actions with the purpose of developing personally or professionally. Due to its participatory nature, the process of action research is also distinct in educational research. There are many models for how the action research process takes shape. I will share a few of those here. Each model utilizes the following processes to some extent:

These definitions highlight the distinct features of action research and emphasize the purposeful intent of action researchers to improve, refine, reform, and problem-solve issues in their educational context. To better understand the distinctness of action research, these are some examples of action research topics:

The knowledge that is conveyed in a classroom is bound to, and justified by, a social system. A postmodernist approach to understanding our world seeks knowledge within a social system, which is directly opposed to the empirical or positivist approach which demands evidence based on logic or science as rationale for beliefs. Action research does not rely on a positivist viewpoint to develop evidence and conclusions as part of the research process. Action research offers a postmodernist stance to epistemology (theory of knowledge) and supports developing questions and new inquiries during the research process. In this way action research is an emergent process that allows beliefs and decisions to be negotiated as reality and meaning are being constructed in the socially mediated space of the classroom.

All research, at its core, is for the purpose of generating new knowledge and contributing to the knowledge base of educational research. Action researchers in the classroom want to explore methods of improving their pedagogy and practice. The starting place of their inquiry stems from their pedagogy and practice, so by nature the knowledge created from their inquiry is often contextually specific to their classroom, school, or community. Therefore, we should examine the theoretical underpinnings of action research for the classroom. It is important to connect action research conceptually to experience; for example, Levin and Greenwood (2001, p. 105) make these connections:

Most of you are probably at least minimally familiar with constructivism, or the process of constructing knowledge. However, what is constructivism precisely, for the purposes of action research? Many scholars have theorized constructivism and have identified two key attributes (Koshy, 2010; von Glasersfeld, 1987):

While there are many links between action research and educators in the classroom, constructivism offers the most familiar and practical threads to bind the beliefs of educators and action researchers.

It is also important for educators to consider the philosophical stances related to action research to better situate it with their beliefs and reality. When researchers make decisions about the methodology they intend to use, they will consider their ontological and epistemological stances. It is vital that researchers clearly distinguish their philosophical stances and understand the implications of their stance in the research process, especially when collecting and analyzing their data. In what follows, we will discuss ontological and epistemological stances in relation to action research methodology.

A teacher of 11-year-old children decided to carry out an action research project which involved a change in style in teaching mathematics. Instead of giving children mathematical tasks displaying the subject as abstract principles, she made links with other subjects which she believed would encourage children to see mathematics as a discipline that could improve their understanding of the environment and historic events. At the conclusion of the project, the teacher reported that applicable mathematics generated greater enthusiasm and understanding of the subject.

In this first chapter, we have discussed a lot about the role of experiences in sparking the research process in the classroom. Your experiences as an educator will shape how you approach action research in your classroom. Your experiences as a person in general will also shape how you create knowledge from your research process. In particular, your experiences will shape how you make meaning from your findings. It is important to be clear about your experiences when developing your methodology too. This is referred to as researcher positionality. Maher and Tetreault (1993, p. 118) define positionality as:

By presenting your positionality in the research process, you are signifying the type of socially constructed, and other types of, knowledge you will be using to make sense of the data. As Maher and Tetreault explain, this increases the trustworthiness of your conclusions about the data. This would not be possible with a positivist ontology. We will discuss positionality more in chapter 6, but we wanted to connect it to the overall theoretical underpinnings of action research.

In the following chapters, we will discuss how action research takes shape in your classroom, and we wanted to briefly summarize the key advantages to action research methodology over other types of research methodology. As Koshy (2010, p. 25) notes, action research provides useful methodology for school and classroom research because:

The reader is guided through each stage of the action research process, from engaging with the critical theory, to the practical applications with the ultimate goal of providing a research study which is publishable. Supplemented by useful pedagogical research tools and exemplars of both qualitative and quantitative action research studies, this new edition features chapters engaging with teaching excellence and analysing qualitative and quantitative research, additions to the resources section and a new preface focusing more explicitly on the ever-growing number of part-time academics.

Action Research in Teaching and Learning combines a theoretical understanding of the scholarly literature with practical applications and is an essential, critical read for any individual teaching or undertaking action research.

This book presents itself as a practical guide to pedagogical action research (PAR) which can assist anyone wishing to use PAR to evaluate and refine their own practice. It is aimed at a higher education (HE) audience but is intended to be accessible not only to lecturers but also to those working in a learning and teaching support role in HE who are interested in action research. The writing style lives up to this aspiration to be inclusive; it demonstrates academic rigour, but the language and layout are both accessible and inviting. The author plainly has a lot of experience and enthusiasm for the field of action research and both of these qualities come across very clearly in her writing, drawing you in to the topics she is discussing.

Action Research in Teaching and Learning combines a theoretical understanding of the scholarly literature with practical applications and is an essential, critical read for any individual teaching or undertaking action research.

Simply put, action research describes a research methodology used to diagnose and address problems. In a school setting, the teacher plays the role of the researcher, and the students represent the study participants. Action research is a meaningful way for a teacher to find out why students perform the way they do.

I discovered action research while working on my higher degree. Using action research allowed me to find real solutions for real issues in my classroom and gave me my topic of study for my dissertation at the same time!

Conducting action research also allowed me to become a leader in my community. I was able to present a way to be a reflective practitioner within my classroom and model it for other teachers. I shared my new knowledge with the other art teachers in my district and invited them to try their own informal studies within their classrooms. We were able to shift our focus from one of compliance to one of inquiry and discovery, thus creating a more engaging learning environment for our students.

Teachers at the Siena School in Silver Spring, Maryland, decided to figure out the assessment question by investigating their classroom practices. As a result of their action research, they now have a much deeper understanding of authentic assessment and a renewed appreciation for the power of learning together. 041b061a72