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Studying One’s Own Practice through Action Research

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1 Studying One’s Own Practice through Action Research
Ruth Heaton College of Education and Human Sciences Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education

2 What is Action Research?
How does Action Research fit with Math in the Middle? What do Action Research questions look like? What might Action Research look like in your setting?

3 What is Action Research?
Action Research is the systematic, intentional inquiry by teachers about their own school and classroom work. Systematic means ordered ways of gathering and ordering data. Intentional means planned rather than spontaneous.

4 What is Action Research?
teacher research teacher inquiry

5 Action Research is a process of inquiry.
Identify an area of focus. Formulate a question. Collect data. Analyze and interpret data. Develop an action plan. Generate new questions. . .

6 Where did the idea of Action Research originate?
1940’s and 1950s in USA: Stephen Corey and Kurt Lewin 1960’s and 1970’s in Great Britain and Australia: Lawrence Stenhouse and John Elliott Stephan Kemmis and Robin McTaggart • 1980’s in USA: New teacher research movement in writing and literacy

7 Why is Action Research important in teacher development?
Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan Lytle Inside Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge (1993)

8 A traditional view of professional development implies transmission and implementation of knowledge from outside to inside schools. (p.xiv) Teacher research interrupts traditional assumptions about knowers, knowing, and what can be known about teaching. (p.xv)

9 Teachers play important roles in generating knowledge and in deciding how knowledge ought to be interpreted and used. (p.x) Teacher research is a form of social change wherein individuals and groups labor to understand and alter classrooms, schools, and school communities. (p.x)

10 Action Research redefines the notion of knowledge for teaching
changes the locus of the knowledge base alters the practitioner’s stance in relation to knowledge generation in the field

11 Why do Action Research? The goal of Action Research is to understand what is happening in your school or classroom and to determine what might improve things in your context.

12 Criteria for Action Research Studies Using Language of Traditional Research
Action Research does not need to be generalizable. This means that your findings do not to apply to any other setting than your own. Action Research does need to be valid. Do these data really measure or represent what we say they do? Consequences for students can sometimes be severe when important educational decisions are based on invalid instrumentation, data, or theories. Action Research does need to be reliable. Your methods of measurement need to be accurate. An instrument is unreliable if each time you use it you get wildly different results.

13 Action Research and Math in the Middle
All Math in the Middle teachers will do Action Research beginning in Year 2 of their involvement in the project for the purpose of: 1) Learning about one’s own classroom, school, or district in ways that are related to mathematics teaching and learning; 2) Sharing what one learns with others; 3) Developing one’s capacities as a teacher leader.

14 Learning to Do Action Research
Math in the Middle will offer two courses that integrate learning about statistical content with learning about action research. The courses will be taught by instructors with quantitative and qualitative research experience. Instructors will have expertise in the analysis of data and action research.

15 The Action Research Process
Identify an issue, theme, or problem. The issue, theme, or problem may evolve from previous inquiries into practice or emerge from coursework, assessment data, or your current classroom or school situation. At this beginning stage of development, THINK BIG.

16 Formulate a question Select one small part of your issue, theme, or problem to generate an Action Research question. Consider your own limitations. Research small.

17 Do a Literature Review Your knowledge of research related to your Action Research question should be thorough, broad, and deep. Reading should be extensive in search of overall trends, controversies, and current thinking about your issue.

18 Gather Data What do you already know about this problem in your own setting? What have you already observed about the issue? Is there existing data gathered for another purpose to support your study? Gather existing and new qualitative (e.g. interviews, observations, recordings of interactions) and quantitative (numbers to quantify cause and effect relationships) data.

19 Analyze Data Consider both qualitative and quantitative data.
Use correct and appropriate statistics. Use correct representations for the statistics you choose to use. Identify themes and patterns in qualitative data.

20 Answer the Question Based on the results of your qualitative and quantitative data analysis, draw conclusions and, if possible, make an informal inference related to your question.

21 Identify Limitations Internal limitations are those factors in your that control may have affected your results. External limitations are those factors out of your control that may have affected your results.

22 Reflections and Learning
Identify next steps, personal learning and insights into the project. Identify changes, challenges, new perspectives, and ways to do things differently. Identify new problems that surface and may be new Action Research projects.

23 Sample Action Research Project
Comprehending Problem Solving Tasks: Retelling as a Strategy for Helping First Graders Understand Mathematical Language By Elizabeth Miller, Hardwick, Vermont

24 Examples of Action Research Questions
How do these questions differ from one another? How are the questions similar? How might questions generated by teachers in Nebraska be similar to and different from questions generated by teachers in Vermont? How might questions generated by rural teachers in Nebraska be similar to and different from questions generated by teachers in non-rural areas in Nebraska?

25 Action Research Planning Guide
THINK BIG. Think small. 3) Think about complexities of your own situation.

26 Samona Joe (5th and 6th grade math and science teacher in a middle school in Philadelphia)

27 Samona Joe’s Questions
What role does power as played out in differences of gender, race, and class have in my teaching and my students’ learning? What do I do as an educator to address issues of race and racism in current educational policy and practice? How does awareness of race and racism inform my evaluation of my students’ performance and learning and my own growth as a teacher?


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