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Action Research

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Tracy Thomson

on 27 October 2016

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Transcript of Action Research

In this four minute video, Richard Sagor
passion within boundaries
habits of mind
in a
4-step Action Research process
Using Action Research

Action research is really not that different from what all good teachers do (Levin, 2006).
The methodology is flexible, situationally responsive and offers rigour, authenticity and voice (Cohen et al., 2011).
Possible Bias:
Cohen et al. (2011) discuss the centrality of reflexivity to action research where the researchers are also the participants and practitioners. How does this affect the research process?
Possibility of bias as the practitioner who is also the researcher may not be entirely disinterested (Cohen et al., 2011).
The "participants-as-practitioners-and-researchers need to apply to themselves the same critical scrutiny that they are applying to others and to the research" (Cohen et al., 2011, p. 359).
Characteristics of
Action Research
• Also called practitioner based research

• A form of

• Largely agreed that it is based on the desire for improvement to practice (which shows its clear purpose)
Action Research

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Action research. In
Research methods in education (7th ed.)
(pp. 344-361). London: Routledge-Falmer.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2014). Action Research.
Research methods in education (7th ed.)
[PowerPoint slides 15-16]. Retrieved from http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/cohen7e/.

Gawith, G. (1995).
Action learning: Student guide to research and information skills
. Auckland: Longman Paul.

Gay, L.R., & Airasian, P. (2003).
Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications. (7th ed.)
. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Prentice Hall.

Levin, D. (2006, July/August). Action research: What is it? Why is it important?
170, 38-40.

Milton-Brkich, K., Shumbera, K & Beran, B. (2010). Action research.
Science and Children
. 47-51.

Sagor, R. (2011).
The Action research guidebook. 2nd Editio
n. California: Corwin

Video footage...
Phelan, D. (2012). Action research methodology DP 2012
Retrieved from: http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jENIAs-V4Q

Sagor, R. (2009).
Action research guidebook
Retrieved from: http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSGtyHxn4fc

D. Phelan created this animation to simulate a group of masters students discussing their projects
Relating to
Action Research
For either of our study examples, "The Use of Action Research to Improve Teaching Practice Within Early Childhood Education" or "Multi-age Science Buddies" how might the action research be improved? You may choose to think in terms of data collection (i.e. expanding observation methods) or in terms of collaboration. For instance, are there advantages of action research being conducted by small groups of teachers rather than an individual teacher?

Action Research Example 1:
Ms. Jenkins is a full-day kindergarten teacher and works in collaboration with Early Childhood Educator (ECE), Ms. Brown. Lately, they have noticed that the students in their kindergarten class have become increasingly disruptive. They will yell, run around, and even push one another. These behaviours tend to occur during transition times, i.e. getting ready to go outside, cleaning up, or lining up.

The purpose of this study is to discover whether disruptive behaviours can be improved if transition times are reduced.

The following action research project was created by three teachers (kindergarten, grade 2 and grade 5). Their research focused on creating a multi-age science buddy program in their school to determine how it might effectively engage their students.
(click on pages to read more...)
Characteristics of Action Research (Cont.)
• Bridges theory and practice: "participatory research breaks the separation of the researcher and the participants; power is equalized... "
(Cohen et al., 2011)

• "The research becomes a collective and shared enterprise" (Cohen et al., 2011)

Characteristics of Action Research (Cont.)
• Demonstrates extensive practicality as a research method - can be used in almost any setting where a problem involving people, tasks, and procedures needs a solution, or where some change of feature results in a more desirable outcome
Defining Action Research
Cohen and colleagues (2011) make reference to an "all-encompassing" definition offered by Kemmis and McTaggart (need citation):

Action research is a form of collective self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of (their) own social or educational practices, as well as their understanding of these practices and the situations in which these practices are carried out ... The approach is only action research when it is collaborative, though it is important to realize the action research of the group is achieved through the critically examined action of the individual group members
Characteristics of Action Research (Cont.)
• Combines diagnosis, action, and reflection, focusing on practical issues that have been identified by participants and which are problematic yet capable of being changed

• Self-reflection is the essence of Action Research - the researcher does research on him/herself rather than just on other people

Criteria of Action Research
Cohen et al. (2011) make reference to a list of criteria from Zuber-Skerritt (1996) when defining Action Research:

Benefits from the Use of Action Research...
teachers investigate their own practice in new ways.
teachers develop a deeper understanding of their students and their role as educator.
teachers are viewed as equal partners in deciding what works best or what needs to be improved.
teachers are more committed to action research because they identify problematic areas.
"At a time when so many challenges face our profession and our work with children, action research can help us get beyond accepting the status quo and enable us to resist the quick fixes that rarely work as promised"
(Levin, 2006, p. 40).
Action research still requires the informed consent of participants as well as respecting confidentiality and autonomy of participants (Cohen et al., 2011).
Seems to be a blurred lined between teacher as teacher and teacher as researcher (Cohen et al., 2011).
Source: Gay & Airasian, 2003, p. 265
The Use of Action Research to Improve Teaching
Practice Within Early Childhood Education

The data collected was very revealing. Ms. Jenkins and Ms. Brown discovered that there were too many transitions in their schedule and it is during these times that the children display disruptive behaviours. As transitions were reduced, they saw a drop in unruly behaviours.

The action they took as a result of the data was to work together to come up with an improved schedule that is flexible and responsive to the needs of their students. For instance, now they go play outside as soon as the children arrive as they are already dressed and ready.
Research Questions:
Do students act out more during unstructured times of the day (i.e. transitions)? Are there too many transitions in the daily routine?

Twenty-four students in a kindergarten classroom will participate in this study. Eleven of these students are girls and thirteen are boys.

Ms. Jenkins and Ms. Brown will reduce transition times in attempt to reduce (or even eradicate) disruptive behaviours.

Data Collection:
At the beginning of the study before the schedule is modified, the teacher and ECE will document narratives of observed behaviours during transition times. During a three-week period of reducing transition times for the students, they will again document in-depth narratives of behaviours. Data will be compared and studied for analysis.
Fitness for Purpose
The fitness for purpose of action research for studying an issue within early childhood education is great:
Teachers determine the areas of focus for development.
The approach is flexible, situationally responsive and offers rigour (Cohen et al., 2011).
Observation, one of the most common data sources within action research (Gay & Airasian, 2003), is very relevant to early childhood education.
"Action research is about putting ourselves in the driving seat of learning"
(Gawith, 1995).
(Gay & Airasian, 2003)
Action Research: vs. Schools:
crosses formal boundaries
Action research brings together two potentially incompatible professional bodies, teachers and researchers:
research values precision, control and attempts to generalize from specific events while action research is concerned with doing things and translates generalizations into specific acts.
(Cohen et al., 2011)
What role might action research
play in your research?

Consider the participatory nature of the methodology.
Action research is often generated locally. If you are conducting a smaller or local study, how might the results of your action research be beneficial in a wider context and how might you plan for that?
Briefly discuss one limitation or weakness of action research and what precautions researchers should be mindful of when considering or conducting a study of this type.

1. Decide and agree one common problem that you are experiencing or need that must be addressed.

2. Identify some causes of the problem (need).

3. Brainstorm a range of possible practical solutions to the problem, to address the real problem and the real cause(s).

4. From the range of possible practical solutions decide one of the solutions to the problems, perhaps what you consider to be the most suitable or best solution to the problem. Plan how to put the solution into practice.

Possible 8 Stage Process
5. Identify ‘success criteria’ by which you will be able to judge whether the solution has worked to solve the problem,

6. Put the plan into action; monitor, adjust and evaluate what is taking place;

7. Evaluate the outcome to see how well it has addressed and solved the problem or need, using the success criteria identified in Stage Five.

8. Review and plan what needs to be done in light of the evaluation.

Tracy Thomson
Kimberly McKeracher
Anthony Dandie

Chapter 18
Dr. Anne Watson
Mar. 2, 2014

Example based on own research interest
Action Research Example 2:
Multi-age Science Buddies
Full transcript