Action research is a method used by teachers to solve everyday issues in the classroom. It is a reflective, democratic, and action-based approach to problem-solving or information-seeking in the classroom. Instead of waiting for a solution, action research empowers teachers to become critical and reflective thinkers and lifelong learners that are dedicated to helping improve student learning and teaching effectiveness. Teachers or program leaders can take on an action research project by framing a question, carrying out an intervention or experiment, and reporting on the results. Below you'll find resources, examples, and simple steps to help you get started!
by Scott Lee and Gary Goh
Transitioning to kindergarten from the preschool setting can be a difficult time for children and parents. Research has shown that barriers during transition can translate into difficulties in the later school years. To help alleviate the stress and anxiety of transitioning, two early childhood teachers in Singapore conducted an action research study that focused on incorporating constructive and pretend play to help children during this time. This study is a great example of action research in the early childhood setting.
1. Identify a Topic
Topics for action research can include the following:
2. Develop a Plan
It is important to have a well thought out plan to help guide your research. You can work individually or as a group. A few things to keep in mind:
3. Collect Data
A mixed-method approach is a great way to ensure that your data is valid and reliable since you are gathering data from more than one source. This is called triangulation.
Mixed-methods research is when you integrate quantitative and qualitative research and analysis in a single study. Quantitative data is data that can be measured and written down with numbers. Some examples include attendance records, developmental screening tests, and attitude surveys. Qualitative data is data that cannot be measured in a numerical format. Some examples include observations, open-ended survey responses, audio recordings, focus groups, pictures, and in-depth interviews.
Ethically, even if your research will be contained in the classroom, it is important to get permission from the Director or Principal and parents. If your data collection involves videotaping or photographing students, you should review and follow school procedures. Always make sure that you have a secure place to store data and that you respect the confidentiality of your students.
4. Analyze and Interpret the Data
It's important to consider when data will be able to answer your question. Were you looking for effects right away or effects that last until the end of the school year? When you're done, review all of the data and look for themes. You can then separate the data into categories and analyze each group. Remember the goal of the analysis is not only to help answer the research question, but to gain understanding as a teacher.
5. Carry out an Action Plan to Improve Your Practice
After the analysis, summarize what you learned from the study.
Action research is often a cycle. What's your next question?
Pine, G. J. (2008). Teacher action research: Building knowledge democracies. Sage Publications.