Action Research in Education
Action Research in Education
Action research is a continuous process of improvement in teaching and education. It may also be referred to as the cycle of action or cycle of inquiry because it follows a continuous process of learning, evaluation and improvement.
The Action Research Process:
Action research in education is a seven step process implemented by either a single teacher, a group of teachers and colleagues or the entire faculty of a school.
- Identify the focus area
The investigation starts with the identification of a topic area which is the prime focus of researchers. This topic is based on conditions of today; the demands of a classroom. Teachers wish to gather relevant information relating to the issues that are vitally important with an aspect to a teacher’s roles and responsibilities. This is why they start with the characteristics of learning required for inquiry.
- Clarifying the approach
Moving ahead of identification of focus area we must now analyze which approach is needed for the values, beliefs and perspectives of the topic. For instance, if the teachers are concerned about active participation in classrooms they might need to clarify the approach they would like to follow. Using rewards, creating a participative atmosphere or including various group activities and presentations might be a possible way too.
- Work on research questions
Prior to the identification of focus area and required strategies to guide researcher’s perspectives, the next step of the action research process is to generate research questions for further guidance.
- Data collection
Collecting data is crucial to carry out research. Action researchers collect valid and reliable data from trusted sources in order to enhance validity of their findings. Reliance on a single source might not be suitable and may affect the quality of research. However, most of the teachers don’t pay attention to the sources in front of them. Teachers complain about not having enough time for research but in actual they can collect data from student performance evaluations, daily observance in students’ behavior and interpersonal relationship of students with students and also with the staff. Furthermore, other sources can be identified through group discussion based activities carried out by teachers in classrooms.
There is no right or wrong way to analyze a situation but using statistical calculations may not be appropriate for action researchers. They are only required to softly examine the whole process and make inquiries regarding the story told by these ‘data’.
- Reporting the results
Choosing a venue to report upon the research findings is up to the teacher/researcher. In most cases teachers find it comfortable to share their viewpoints in meetings, staff room discussions, brown bag lunch seminars and teacher conferences. But apart from informal set ups some researchers have thought about writing publications for their findings.
- Action planning
Taking the informed action is the last step of the whole process. In this step teachers plan lessons and develop academic programs. This process helps them in not repeating their mistakes although trial and error is still a widely accepted teaching methodology.
Advantages of Action Research
Action research formulates the research process into a scientific purpose backed by theories and data. It focuses on student and teacher development in education by analyzing the classroom environment; problem solving is therefore logically dealt with action research. For instance, a logical thinker will never waste the opportunity of immediate implementation of the research if carried out correctly and is in direct contact with providing best solutions for student reinforcement. It also develops a culture of inquiry in classrooms which is itself a part of the learning cycle.
Although action research is a widely accepted approach but it also needs ample time and proper strategies to effectively assess student behavior. It is an ongoing process to produce an effective learning environment. Hence, competitive teachers are required to invest in this wisdom of practice who are capable to carry out such challenges.