Action Research – short summary
In regards to Action Research, I feel as though the assessments that are utilized within all educational fields are the best topics to be approached when using this specific type of methodology. According to Mertler and Charles (2011), “action research is [utilized] by educators, [it is] accomplished in the local school setting, [and it is] intended to resolve [localized] school concerns [and] questions” (p.336).
Anytime an educator may feel as though his/her instruction is not meeting the needs of each individual student, the educator could easily implement action research methods in order to discover why this may be the case. An instructor can implement the steps that are contained within the action research method in order to formulate a plan that will allow him/her the opportunity to see why his/her instruction is not effective. When an educator has decided to utilize action research within his/her planning, it is critical that he/she follow these 8 steps: 1) Identify the specific problem
2) Collect any and all information that may be needed in regards to the problem 3) Formulate a project: make a list of objectives, select specific activities, have any and all materials in order & finally – plan, plan, plan for your procedures! 4) Introduce and then implement your project
5) Monitor all of your procedures and closely monitor your results 6) Identify the shortcomings of your project
7) Correct your errors and omissions
8) Gauge the project’s results – long-term as well as short-term (Mertler & Charles 2011).
Because action research is a cyclical process, the educator will be able to conduct on-going assessment projects in regards to a specific problem. Action research is a fantastic tool that educators can (and should) use in order to evaluate their own performances. We, as educators, have to come to terms with the fact that we will never be perfect; education and educational practices will always evolve and therefore educators have to find ways to change, as well as to improve their instruction. In the Handbook of Action Research, Reason and Bradbury (2001) write that “[g]ood action research emerges over time in an evolutionary and developmental process, as individuals develop skills of enquiry and as communities of enquiry develop within communities of practice” (p. 2). In regards to evaluation research, I feel as though I could most definitely conduct a study for a program that I am familiar with. I teach at a public school in South Carolina (SC). SC is one of many states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
According to Mertler and Charles, “evaluation research is generally done in an effort to determine if certain programs, curriculum, or procedures are effective; this type of method differs from action research in that it examines the quality of [a particular] curriculum – action research develops new and innovative ideas/plans” (2011). If I wanted to evaluate the quality of the CCSS, I could research the past assessment results of students – while they were learning under the SC State Standards – and compare them to the present assessment results of students who are learning under CCSS. It would be important for me to research the assessment results and then compare them to the same (or a very similar) population of students. I could also research information pertaining to the financial aspects of the CCSS as well as the guidelines that are set in regards to teacher certification. All of the latter topics are things that I would consider to be important in regards to the quality of a given curriculum. Within my own teaching career, I have actually used action research methods when planning for instruction.
I have always felt like everyone has the ability to “grow and glow”! In order to grow, one must accept constructive criticism (whether it is from others or from themselves). I have found that most of my “best” differentiated activities have come from the lessons that I have developed after realizing that previous methods weren’t working. Action and evaluation research methods are used by open-minded educators who are willing to “take those extra steps” that are needed in order to meet the needs of ALL of their students.
Mertler, C.A. & Charles, C.M. (2011) Introduction to educational research. (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (2001). Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice. London: Sage.