Setting up action research
Action research recognises that people have expertise in their own jobs and ideas about how that job can be improved. It is about seeing something problematic and setting up a question which seeks to clarify or start to solve the dilemma? There are several types of questions which can be asked and these include:
- Are my practices improving performance in the classroom? – This is a way of checking and pinpointing the actions which lead to change.
- What practices could I use in order to improve the situation in the classroom? – This is a question which looks at how a range of approaches can contribute to an end goal and probably prioritising and differentiating those approaches.
- How will a specific idea from another researcher or educationist make an impact on a classroom or school? – This takes the form of validating or dismissing ideas by applying them to a specific area.
- How can I improve the performance of a specific group within the classroom in a named area? – This enables researchers to pinpoint specific pupils and challenges.
However, action research is not just about the classroom but can encompass all aspects of our jobs. In education, questions can focus on people management, introducing new initiatives or any other aspect of a role. The key element is that the action researcher is investigating their own practices in the context of real situations. Action research is a practical way of looking at your own work to check that it is as you think it should be.
Action research has a cyclical shape because the more questions we ask, the more questions are raised in our minds. That is one of the most exciting aspects of work.It is a process which starts with a question mark in the head. Why have particular learners not made progress? Why are learners losing marks on question 4 in examinations?
1.Seeing a problem
2. Asking a question
3. Coming up with a plan [ from reading, talking, having ideas, knowing your situation]
4.Setting up base-lines [attitudinal tests/analysis of work/ test scores/ ]
5. Implementing the plan [ having critical friends, re-adjusting plans, measuring impact]
6. Reflecting continuously on the process and gathering evidence as you go [even contradictory evidence which in itself is interesting]
7. Gathering your findings and separating evidence from data
8. Trying out your findings on a Validation group and critical friend
9. Sharing and publishing your findings
10. Seeing a new problem.
Setting key elements up at the beginning:
Does senior leadership know and support your research?
Do governors know?
Have parents and learners been informed?
What baseline testing will you use?
What evidence will you collect and how will you store it?
How will you measure impact?
Check out my blog for any new material on action research in the coming months.