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1 What is Action Research for Classroom Teachers?


  • What is the nature of action research?
  • How does action research develop in the classroom?
  • What models of action research work best for your classroom?
  • What are the epistemological, ontological, theoretical underpinnings of action research?

Educational research provides a vast landscape of knowledge on topics related to teaching and learning, curriculum and assessment, students’ cognitive and affective needs, cultural and socio-economic factors of schools, and many other factors considered viable to improving schools. Educational stakeholders rely on research to make informed decisions that ultimately affect the quality of schooling for their students. Accordingly, the purpose of educational research is to engage in disciplined inquiry to generate knowledge on topics significant to the students, teachers, administrators, schools, and other educational stakeholders. Just as the topics of educational research vary, so do the approaches to conducting educational research in the classroom. Your approach to research will be shaped by your context, your professional identity, and paradigm (set of beliefs and assumptions that guide your inquiry). These will all be key factors in how you generate knowledge related to your work as an educator.

Action research is an approach to educational research that is commonly used by educational practitioners and professionals to examine, and ultimately improve, their pedagogy and practice. In this way, action research represents an extension of the reflection and critical self-reflection that an educator employs on a daily basis in their classroom. When students are actively engaged in learning, the classroom can be dynamic and uncertain, demanding the constant attention of the educator. Considering these demands, educators are often only able to engage in reflection that is fleeting, and for the purpose of accommodation, modification, or formative assessment. Action research offers one path to more deliberate, substantial, and critical reflection that can be documented and analyzed to improve an educator’s practice.

Purpose of Action Research

As one of many approaches to educational research, it is important to distinguish the potential purposes of action research in the classroom. This book focuses on action research as a method to enable and support educators in pursuing effective pedagogical practices by transforming the quality of teaching decisions and actions, to subsequently enhance student engagement and learning. Being mindful of this purpose, the following aspects of action research are important to consider as you contemplate and engage with action research methodology in your classroom:

  • Action research is a process for improving educational practice. Its methods involve action, evaluation, and reflection. It is a process to gather evidence to implement change in practices.
  • Action research is participative and collaborative. It is undertaken by individuals with a common purpose.
  • Action research is situation and context-based.
  • Action research develops reflection practices based on the interpretations made by participants.
  • Knowledge is created through action and application.
  • Action research can be based in problem-solving, if the solution to the problem results in the improvement of practice.
  • Action research is iterative; plans are created, implemented, revised, then implemented, lending itself to an ongoing process of reflection and revision.
  • In action research, findings emerge as action develops and takes place; however, they are not conclusive or absolute, but ongoing (Koshy, 2010, pgs. 1-2).

In thinking about the purpose of action research, it is helpful to situate action research as a distinct paradigm of educational research. I like to think about action research as part of the larger concept of living knowledge. Living knowledge has been characterized as “a quest for life, to understand life and to create… knowledge which is valid for the people with whom I work and for myself” (Swantz, in Reason & Bradbury, 2001, pg. 1). Why should educators care about living knowledge as part of educational research? As mentioned above, action research is meant “to produce practical knowledge that is useful to people in the everyday conduct of their lives and to see that action research is about working towards practical outcomes” (Koshy, 2010, pg. 2). However, it is also about:

creating new forms of understanding, since action without reflection and understanding is blind, just as theory without action is meaningless. The participatory nature of action research makes it only possible with, for and by persons and communities, ideally involving all stakeholders both in the questioning and sense making that informs the research, and in the action, which is its focus. (Reason & Bradbury, 2001, pg. 2)

In an effort to further situate action research as living knowledge, Jean McNiff reminds us that “there is no such ‘thing’ as ‘action research’” (2013, pg. 24). In other words, action research is not static or finished, it defines itself as it proceeds. McNiff’s reminder characterizes action research as action-oriented, and a process that individuals go through to make their learning public to explain how it informs their practice. Action research does not derive its meaning from an abstract idea, or a self-contained discovery – action research’s meaning stems from the way educators negotiate the problems and successes of living and working in the classroom, school, and community.

While we can debate the idea of action research, there are people who are action researchers, and they use the idea of action research to develop principles and theories to guide their practice. Action research, then, refers to an organization of principles that guide action researchers as they act on shared beliefs, commitments, and expectations in their inquiry.

Reflection and the Process of Action Research

When an individual engages in reflection on their actions or experiences, it is typically for the purpose of better understanding those experiences, or the consequences of those actions to improve related action and experiences in the future. Reflection in this way develops knowledge around these actions and experiences to help us better regulate those actions in the future. The reflective process generates new knowledge regularly for classroom teachers and informs their classroom actions.

Unfortunately, the knowledge generated by educators through the reflective process is not always prioritized among the other sources of knowledge educators are expected to utilize in the classroom. Educators are expected to draw upon formal types of knowledge, such as textbooks, content standards, teaching standards, district curriculum and behavioral programs, etc., to gain new knowledge and make decisions in the classroom. While these forms of knowledge are important, the reflective knowledge that educators generate through their pedagogy is the amalgamation of these types of knowledge enacted in the classroom. Therefore, reflective knowledge is uniquely developed based on the action and implementation of an educator’s pedagogy in the classroom. Action research offers a way to formalize the knowledge generated by educators so that it can be utilized and disseminated throughout the teaching profession.

Research is concerned with the generation of knowledge, and typically creating knowledge related to a concept, idea, phenomenon, or topic. Action research generates knowledge around inquiry in practical educational contexts. Action research allows educators to learn through their actions with the purpose of developing personally or professionally. Due to its participatory nature, the process of action research is also distinct in educational research. There are many models for how the action research process takes shape. I will share a few of those here. Each model utilizes the following processes to some extent:

  • Plan a change;
  • Take action to enact the change;
  • Observe the process and consequences of the change;
  • Reflect on the process and consequences;
  • Act, observe, & reflect again and so on.

The basic process of Action Research is as follows: Plan a change; Take action to enact the change; Observe the process and consequences of the change; Reflect on the process and consequences; Act, observe, & reflect again and so on.

Figure 1.1 Basic action research cycle

There are many other models that supplement the basic process of action research with other aspects of the research process to consider. For example, figure 1.2 illustrates a spiral model of action research proposed by Kemmis and McTaggart (2004). The spiral model emphasizes the cyclical process that moves beyond the initial plan for change. The spiral model also emphasizes revisiting the initial plan and revising based on the initial cycle of research:

Kemmis and McTaggart (2004) offer a slightly different process for action research: Plan; Act & Observe; Reflect; Revised Plan; Act & Observe; Reflect.

Figure 1.2 Interpretation of action research spiral, Kemmis and McTaggart (2004, p. 595)

Other models of action research reorganize the process to emphasize the distinct ways knowledge takes shape in the reflection process. O’Leary’s (2004, p. 141) model, for example, recognizes that the research may take shape in the classroom as knowledge emerges from the teacher’s observations. O’Leary highlights the need for action research to be focused on situational understanding and implementation of action, initiated organically from real-time issues:

O'Leary (2004) offers another version of the action research process that focuses the cyclical nature of action research, with three cycles shown: Observe; Reflect; Plan; Act; And Repeat.

Figure 1.3 Interpretation of O’Leary’s cycles of research, O’Leary (2000, p. 141)

Lastly, Macintyre’s (2000, p. 1) model, offers a different characterization of the action research process. Macintyre emphasizes a messier process of research with the initial reflections and conclusions as the benchmarks for guiding the research process. Macintyre emphasizes the flexibility in planning, acting, and observing stages to allow the process to be naturalistic. Our interpretation of Macintyre process is below:

Macintyre (2000) offers a much more complex process of action research that highlights multiple processes happening at the same time. It starts with: Reflection and analysis of current practice and general idea of research topic and context. Second: Narrowing down the topic, planning the action; and scanning the literature, discussing with colleagues. Third: Refined topic – selection of key texts, formulation of research question/hypothesis, organization of refined action plan in context; and tentative action plan, consideration of different research strategies. Fourth: Evaluation of entire process; and take action, monitor effects – evaluation of strategy and research question/hypothesis and final amendments. Lastly: Conclusions, claims, explanations. Recommendations for further research.

Figure 1.4 Interpretation of the action research cycle, Macintyre (2000, p. 1)

We believe it is important to prioritize the flexibility of the process, and encourage you to only use these models as basic guides for your process. Your process may look similar, or you may diverge from these models as you better understand your students, context, and data.

Definitions of Action Research and Examples

At this point, it may be helpful for readers to have a working definition of action research and some examples to illustrate the methodology in the classroom. Bassey (1998, p. 93) offers a very practical definition and describes “action research as an inquiry which is carried out in order to understand, to evaluate and then to change, in order to improve educational practice.” Cohen and Manion (1994, p. 192) situate action research differently, and describe action research as emergent, writing:

essentially an on-the-spot procedure designed to deal with a concrete problem located in an immediate situation. This means that ideally, the step-by-step process is constantly monitored over varying periods of time and by a variety of mechanisms (questionnaires, diaries, interviews and case studies, for example) so that the ensuing feedback may be translated into modifications, adjustment, directional changes, redefinitions, as necessary, so as to bring about lasting benefit to the ongoing process itself rather than to some future occasion.

Lastly, Koshy (2010, p. 9) describes action research as:

a constructive inquiry, during which the researcher constructs his or her knowledge of specific issues through planning, acting, evaluating, refining and learning from the experience. It is a continuous learning process in which the researcher learns and also shares the newly generated knowledge with those who may benefit from it.

These definitions highlight the distinct features of action research and emphasize the purposeful intent of action researchers to improve, refine, reform, and problem-solve issues in their educational context. To better understand the distinctness of action research, these are some examples of action research topics:

Examples of Action Research Topics

  • Flexible seating in 4th grade classroom to increase effective collaborative learning.
  • Structured homework protocols for increasing student achievement.
  • Developing a system of formative feedback for 8th grade writing.
  • Using music to stimulate creative writing.
  • Weekly brown bag lunch sessions to improve responses to PD from staff.
  • Using exercise balls as chairs for better classroom management.

Action Research in Theory

Action research-based inquiry in educational contexts and classrooms involves distinct participants – students, teachers, and other educational stakeholders within the system. All of these participants are engaged in activities to benefit the students, and subsequently society as a whole. Action research contributes to these activities and potentially enhances the participants’ roles in the education system. Participants’ roles are enhanced based on two underlying principles:

  • communities, schools, and classrooms are sites of socially mediated actions, and action research provides a greater understanding of self and new knowledge of how to negotiate these socially mediated environments;
  • communities, schools, and classrooms are part of social systems in which humans interact with many cultural tools, and action research provides a basis to construct and analyze these interactions.

In our quest for knowledge and understanding, we have consistently analyzed human experience over time and have distinguished between types of reality. Humans have constantly sought “facts” and “truth” about reality that can be empirically demonstrated or observed.

Social systems are based on beliefs, and generally, beliefs about what will benefit the greatest amount of people in that society. Beliefs, and more specifically the rationale or support for beliefs, are not always easy to demonstrate or observe as part of our reality. Take the example of an English Language Arts teacher who prioritizes argumentative writing in her class. She believes that argumentative writing demonstrates the mechanics of writing best among types of writing, while also providing students a skill they will need as citizens and professionals. While we can observe the students writing, and we can assess their ability to develop a written argument, it is difficult to observe the students’ understanding of argumentative writing and its purpose in their future. This relates to the teacher’s beliefs about argumentative writing; we cannot observe the real value of the teaching of argumentative writing. The teacher’s rationale and beliefs about teaching argumentative writing are bound to the social system and the skills their students will need to be active parts of that system. Therefore, our goal through action research is to demonstrate the best ways to teach argumentative writing to help all participants understand its value as part of a social system.

The knowledge that is conveyed in a classroom is bound to, and justified by, a social system. A postmodernist approach to understanding our world seeks knowledge within a social system, which is directly opposed to the empirical or positivist approach which demands evidence based on logic or science as rationale for beliefs. Action research does not rely on a positivist viewpoint to develop evidence and conclusions as part of the research process. Action research offers a postmodernist stance to epistemology (theory of knowledge) and supports developing questions and new inquiries during the research process. In this way action research is an emergent process that allows beliefs and decisions to be negotiated as reality and meaning are being constructed in the socially mediated space of the classroom.

Theorizing Action Research for the Classroom

All research, at its core, is for the purpose of generating new knowledge and contributing to the knowledge base of educational research. Action researchers in the classroom want to explore methods of improving their pedagogy and practice. The starting place of their inquiry stems from their pedagogy and practice, so by nature the knowledge created from their inquiry is often contextually specific to their classroom, school, or community. Therefore, we should examine the theoretical underpinnings of action research for the classroom. It is important to connect action research conceptually to experience; for example, Levin and Greenwood (2001, p. 105) make these connections:

  • Action research is context bound and addresses real life problems.
  • Action research is inquiry where participants and researchers cogenerate knowledge through collaborative communicative processes in which all participants’ contributions are taken seriously.
  • The meanings constructed in the inquiry process lead to social action or these reflections and action lead to the construction of new meanings.
  • The credibility/validity of action research knowledge is measured according to whether the actions that arise from it solve problems (workability) and increase participants’ control over their own situation.

Educators who engage in action research will generate new knowledge and beliefs based on their experiences in the classroom. Let us emphasize that these are all important to you and your work, as both an educator and researcher. It is these experiences, beliefs, and theories that are often discounted when more official forms of knowledge (e.g., textbooks, curriculum standards, districts standards) are prioritized. These beliefs and theories based on experiences should be valued and explored further, and this is one of the primary purposes of action research in the classroom. These beliefs and theories should be valued because they were meaningful aspects of knowledge constructed from teachers’ experiences. Developing meaning and knowledge in this way forms the basis of constructivist ideology, just as teachers often try to get their students to construct their own meanings and understandings when experiencing new ideas.  

Classroom Teachers Constructing their Own Knowledge

Most of you are probably at least minimally familiar with constructivism, or the process of constructing knowledge. However, what is constructivism precisely, for the purposes of action research? Many scholars have theorized constructivism and have identified two key attributes (Koshy, 2010; von Glasersfeld, 1987):

  • Knowledge is not passively received, but actively developed through an individual’s cognition;
  • Human cognition is adaptive and finds purpose in organizing the new experiences of the world, instead of settling for absolute or objective truth.

Considering these two attributes, constructivism is distinct from conventional knowledge formation because people can develop a theory of knowledge that orders and organizes the world based on their experiences, instead of an objective or neutral reality. When individuals construct knowledge, there are interactions between an individual and their environment where communication, negotiation and meaning-making are collectively developing knowledge. For most educators, constructivism may be a natural inclination of their pedagogy. Action researchers have a similar relationship to constructivism because they are actively engaged in a process of constructing knowledge. However, their constructions may be more formal and based on the data they collect in the research process. Action researchers also are engaged in the meaning making process, making interpretations from their data. These aspects of the action research process situate them in the constructivist ideology. Just like constructivist educators, action researchers’ constructions of knowledge will be affected by their individual and professional ideas and values, as well as the ecological context in which they work (Biesta & Tedder, 2006). The relations between constructivist inquiry and action research is important, as Lincoln (2001, p. 130) states:

much of the epistemological, ontological, and axiological belief systems are the same or similar, and methodologically, constructivists and action researchers work in similar ways, relying on qualitative methods in face-to-face work, while buttressing information, data and background with quantitative method work when necessary or useful.

While there are many links between action research and educators in the classroom, constructivism offers the most familiar and practical threads to bind the beliefs of educators and action researchers.  

Epistemology, Ontology, and Action Research

It is also important for educators to consider the philosophical stances related to action research to better situate it with their beliefs and reality. When researchers make decisions about the methodology they intend to use, they will consider their ontological and epistemological stances. It is vital that researchers clearly distinguish their philosophical stances and understand the implications of their stance in the research process, especially when collecting and analyzing their data. In what follows, we will discuss ontological and epistemological stances in relation to action research methodology.

Ontology, or the theory of being, is concerned with the claims or assumptions we make about ourselves within our social reality – what do we think exists, what does it look like, what entities are involved and how do these entities interact with each other (Blaikie, 2007). In relation to the discussion of constructivism, generally action researchers would consider their educational reality as socially constructed. Social construction of reality happens when individuals interact in a social system. Meaningful construction of concepts and representations of reality develop through an individual’s interpretations of others’ actions. These interpretations become agreed upon by members of a social system and become part of social fabric, reproduced as knowledge and beliefs to develop assumptions about reality. Researchers develop meaningful constructions based on their experiences and through communication. Educators as action researchers will be examining the socially constructed reality of schools. In the United States, many of our concepts, knowledge, and beliefs about schooling have been socially constructed over the last hundred years. For example, a group of teachers may look at why fewer female students enroll in upper-level science courses at their school. This question deals directly with the social construction of gender and specifically what careers females have been conditioned to pursue. We know this is a social construction in some school social systems because in other parts of the world, or even the United States, there are schools that have more females enrolled in upper level science courses than male students. Therefore, the educators conducting the research have to recognize the socially constructed reality of their school and consider this reality throughout the research process. Action researchers will use methods of data collection that support their ontological stance and clarify their theoretical stance throughout the research process.

Koshy (2010, p. 23-24) offers another example of addressing the ontological challenges in the classroom:

A teacher who was concerned with increasing her pupils’ motivation and enthusiasm for learning decided to introduce learning diaries which the children could take home. They were invited to record their reactions to the day’s lessons and what they had learnt. The teacher reported in her field diary that the learning diaries stimulated the children’s interest in her lessons, increased their capacity to learn, and generally improved their level of participation in lessons. The challenge for the teacher here is in the analysis and interpretation of the multiplicity of factors accompanying the use of diaries. The diaries were taken home so the entries may have been influenced by discussions with parents. Another possibility is that children felt the need to please their teacher. Another possible influence was that their increased motivation was as a result of the difference in style of teaching which included more discussions in the classroom based on the entries in the dairies.

Here you can see the challenge for the action researcher is working in a social context with multiple factors, values, and experiences that were outside of the teacher’s control. The teacher was only responsible for introducing the diaries as a new style of learning. The students’ engagement and interactions with this new style of learning were all based upon their socially constructed notions of learning inside and outside of the classroom. A researcher with a positivist ontological stance would not consider these factors, and instead might simply conclude that the dairies increased motivation and interest in the topic, as a result of introducing the diaries as a learning strategy.

Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge, signifies a philosophical view of what counts as knowledge – it justifies what is possible to be known and what criteria distinguishes knowledge from beliefs (Blaikie, 1993). Positivist researchers, for example, consider knowledge to be certain and discovered through scientific processes. Action researchers collect data that is more subjective and examine personal experience, insights, and beliefs.

Action researchers utilize interpretation as a means for knowledge creation. Action researchers have many epistemologies to choose from as means of situating the types of knowledge they will generate by interpreting the data from their research. For example, Koro-Ljungberg et al., (2009) identified several common epistemologies in their article that examined epistemological awareness in qualitative educational research, such as: objectivism, subjectivism, constructionism, contextualism, social epistemology, feminist epistemology, idealism, naturalized epistemology, externalism, relativism, skepticism, and pluralism. All of these epistemological stances have implications for the research process, especially data collection and analysis. Please see the table on pages 689-90, linked below for a sketch of these potential implications:

Again, Koshy (2010, p. 24) provides an excellent example to illustrate the epistemological challenges within action research:

A teacher of 11-year-old children decided to carry out an action research project which involved a change in style in teaching mathematics. Instead of giving children mathematical tasks displaying the subject as abstract principles, she made links with other subjects which she believed would encourage children to see mathematics as a discipline that could improve their understanding of the environment and historic events. At the conclusion of the project, the teacher reported that applicable mathematics generated greater enthusiasm and understanding of the subject.

The educator/researcher engaged in action research-based inquiry to improve an aspect of her pedagogy. She generated knowledge that indicated she had improved her students’ understanding of mathematics by integrating it with other subjects – specifically in the social and ecological context of her classroom, school, and community. She valued constructivism and students generating their own understanding of mathematics based on related topics in other subjects. Action researchers working in a social context do not generate certain knowledge, but knowledge that emerges and can be observed and researched again, building upon their knowledge each time.

Researcher Positionality in Action Research

In this first chapter, we have discussed a lot about the role of experiences in sparking the research process in the classroom. Your experiences as an educator will shape how you approach action research in your classroom. Your experiences as a person in general will also shape how you create knowledge from your research process. In particular, your experiences will shape how you make meaning from your findings. It is important to be clear about your experiences when developing your methodology too. This is referred to as researcher positionality. Maher and Tetreault (1993, p. 118) define positionality as:

Gender, race, class, and other aspects of our identities are markers of relational positions rather than essential qualities. Knowledge is valid when it includes an acknowledgment of the knower’s specific position in any context, because changing contextual and relational factors are crucial for defining identities and our knowledge in any given situation.

By presenting your positionality in the research process, you are signifying the type of socially constructed, and other types of, knowledge you will be using to make sense of the data. As Maher and Tetreault explain, this increases the trustworthiness of your conclusions about the data. This would not be possible with a positivist ontology. We will discuss positionality more in chapter 6, but we wanted to connect it to the overall theoretical underpinnings of action research.

Advantages of Engaging in Action Research in the Classroom

In the following chapters, we will discuss how action research takes shape in your classroom, and we wanted to briefly summarize the key advantages to action research methodology over other types of research methodology. As Koshy (2010, p. 25) notes, action research provides useful methodology for school and classroom research because:

Advantages of Action Research for the Classroom

  • research can be set within a specific context or situation;
  • researchers can be participants – they don’t have to be distant and detached from the situation;
  • it involves continuous evaluation and modifications can be made easily as the project progresses;
  • there are opportunities for theory to emerge from the research rather than always follow a previously formulated theory;
  • the study can lead to open-ended outcomes;
  • through action research, a researcher can bring a story to life.

Action Research Copyright © by J. Spencer Clark; Suzanne Porath; Julie Thiele; and Morgan Jobe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How Teachers Can Learn Through Action Research

A look at one school’s action research project provides a blueprint for using this model of collaborative teacher learning.

Two teachers talking while looking at papers

When teachers redesign learning experiences to make school more relevant to students’ lives, they can’t ignore assessment. For many teachers, the most vexing question about real-world learning experiences such as project-based learning is: How will we know what students know and can do by the end of this project?

Teachers at the Siena School in Silver Spring, Maryland, decided to figure out the assessment question by investigating their classroom practices. As a result of their action research, they now have a much deeper understanding of authentic assessment and a renewed appreciation for the power of learning together.

Their research process offers a replicable model for other schools interested in designing their own immersive professional learning. The process began with a real-world challenge and an open-ended question, involved a deep dive into research, and ended with a public showcase of findings.

Start With an Authentic Need to Know

Siena School serves about 130 students in grades 4–12 who have mild to moderate language-based learning differences, including dyslexia. Most students are one to three grade levels behind in reading.

Teachers have introduced a variety of instructional strategies, including project-based learning, to better meet students’ learning needs and also help them develop skills like collaboration and creativity. Instead of taking tests and quizzes, students demonstrate what they know in a PBL unit by making products or generating solutions.

“We were already teaching this way,” explained Simon Kanter, Siena’s director of technology. “We needed a way to measure, was authentic assessment actually effective? Does it provide meaningful feedback? Can teachers grade it fairly?”

Focus the Research Question

Across grade levels and departments, teachers considered what they wanted to learn about authentic assessment, which the late Grant Wiggins described as engaging, multisensory, feedback-oriented, and grounded in real-world tasks. That’s a contrast to traditional tests and quizzes, which tend to focus on recall rather than application and have little in common with how experts go about their work in disciplines like math or history.

The teachers generated a big research question: Is using authentic assessment an effective and engaging way to provide meaningful feedback for teachers and students about growth and proficiency in a variety of learning objectives, including 21st-century skills?

Take Time to Plan

Next, teachers planned authentic assessments that would generate data for their study. For example, middle school science students created prototypes of genetically modified seeds and pitched their designs to a panel of potential investors. They had to not only understand the science of germination but also apply their knowledge and defend their thinking.

In other classes, teachers planned everything from mock trials to environmental stewardship projects to assess student learning and skill development. A shared rubric helped the teachers plan high-quality assessments.

Make Sense of Data

During the data-gathering phase, students were surveyed after each project about the value of authentic assessments versus more traditional tools like tests and quizzes. Teachers also reflected after each assessment.

“We collated the data, looked for trends, and presented them back to the faculty,” Kanter said.

Among the takeaways:

  • Authentic assessment generates more meaningful feedback and more opportunities for students to apply it.
  • Students consider authentic assessment more engaging, with increased opportunities to be creative, make choices, and collaborate.
  • Teachers are thinking more critically about creating assessments that allow for differentiation and that are applicable to students’ everyday lives.

To make their learning public, Siena hosted a colloquium on authentic assessment for other schools in the region. The school also submitted its research as part of an accreditation process with the Middle States Association.

Strategies to Share

For other schools interested in conducting action research, Kanter highlighted three key strategies.

  • Focus on areas of growth, not deficiency:  “This would have been less successful if we had said, ‘Our math scores are down. We need a new program to get scores up,’ Kanter said. “That puts the onus on teachers. Data collection could seem punitive. Instead, we focused on the way we already teach and thought about, how can we get more accurate feedback about how students are doing?”
  • Foster a culture of inquiry:  Encourage teachers to ask questions, conduct individual research, and share what they learn with colleagues. “Sometimes, one person attends a summer workshop and then shares the highlights in a short presentation. That might just be a conversation, or it might be the start of a school-wide initiative,” Kanter explained. In fact, that’s exactly how the focus on authentic assessment began.
  • Build structures for teacher collaboration:  Using staff meetings for shared planning and problem-solving fosters a collaborative culture. That was already in place when Siena embarked on its action research, along with informal brainstorming to support students.

For both students and staff, the deep dive into authentic assessment yielded “dramatic impact on the classroom,” Kanter added. “That’s the great part of this.”

In the past, he said, most teachers gave traditional final exams. To alleviate students’ test anxiety, teachers would support them with time for content review and strategies for study skills and test-taking.

“This year looks and feels different,” Kanter said. A week before the end of fall term, students were working hard on final products, but they weren’t cramming for exams. Teachers had time to give individual feedback to help students improve their work. “The whole climate feels way better.”

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Original research article, empowering current and future educators: using a scalable action research module as a mechanism to promote high-quality teaching and learning in stem.


  • 1 Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, United States
  • 2 College of Education and Human Sciences, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, United States

Professional development in action research methods can increase educators’ dispositions toward the adoption of evidence-based practices and data-based decision making. However, an in-depth review of the literature revealed that extant forms of action research professional development (ARPD) may not be accessible to all educators as they are often relegated to full-semester undergraduate and/or graduate courses, internships, and teacher education programs. To address this issue, we designed, implemented, and assessed a scalable active-learning module on action research to strengthen the cognitive and affective outcomes of prospective and in-service STEM teachers ( N = 26) enrolled in a cross-listed Scientific Teaching course, all of whom had not previously conducted action research. This three-session module integrated case studies, collaborative practice, group discussions, and instruction on action research theory and data collection methodologies. Analysis of pre-/post-intervention survey responses revealed that participants expressed greater self-efficacy related to their ability to design and conduct action research, strengthened knowledge of the process of action research, and greater awareness of the utility of data to inform research and teaching. When asked about the benefits of engaging in action research, participants suggested it could enhance their pedagogical content knowledge and reflectivity. However, participants identified logistical issues such as time constraints and resource availability, lack of institutional support, and possible student resistance to data collection as potential barriers to future action research practice. Overall, our module provides a scaffold to enculturate in-service educators to inquiry dispositions while offering a scalable approach to help prospective teachers in their transition to in-service practice.

1 Introduction

National science education reports have continued to call for the incorporation of evidence-based teaching strategies—such as active learning—into the K-16 curriculum [ National Research Council, 2012 ; Next-generation Science Standards (NGSS) Lead States, 2013]. Active learning increases students’ conceptual understanding in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses whilst decreasing the achievement gap between minoritized students and their non-minoritized peers ( Freeman et al., 2014 ; Olimpo and Esparza, 2020 ; Theobald et al., 2020 ). Despite the benefits of using teaching practices that support active learning, instructors cite prominent obstacles to its implementation such as large class sizes, time constraints, and overall uncertainty attributed to the loosely-structured nature of student-centered instruction ( Henderson and Dancy, 2011 ; Hains and Smith, 2012 ; Zagallo et al., 2019 ). Training in action research methods offers a mechanism to develop teachers’ abilities to respond to this uncertainty and, thereby, can support instructors as they employ active-learning instructional methods and constructivist approaches ( O’Connor et al., 2006 ). Notably, through action research, educators become active participants in their career-long professional development as they gather data to address emergent classroom issues ( Eraut, 1994 ; Bates, 2005 ; Kemmis, 2010 ).

More acutely, action research refers to the process by which educators actively work to improve their instruction through iterative cycles of: 1) planning an intervention; 2) implementing the intervention and collecting data on its effectiveness; 3) observing student outcomes through data analysis; and 4) reflecting upon the successes and shortcomings of their approach ( Carr and Kemmis, 1986 ). The use of data by educators has been found to improve student achievement and conceptual understanding, especially in schools with higher proportions of disadvantaged students ( Van Geel et al., 2016 ; Kennedy-Clark et al., 2018 ). Data-based decision making likewise contributes to the advancement of the educational enterprise as a whole, supporting large-scale reform initiatives that result in policy changes at the school-, district-, and region-wide levels ( Campbell and Levin, 2009 ). Despite the documented benefits of action research and data-based decision making, school administrators and educators often make decisions by referencing personal experience and anecdotal evidence rather than student data ( Flowers and Carpenter, 2009 ). Moreover, science instructors can face difficulties when linking theory and practice and, therefore, may struggle to integrate action research and data use into their teaching routines ( Capobianco and Feldman, 2010 ; Faikhamta and Clarke, 2015 ; Gelderblom et al., 2016 ). In response, action research professional development (ARPD) programs have emerged throughout the past three decades to address this concern.

Ginns et al. (2001) called for the inclusion of action research in teacher education, noting that the early enculturation of educators to action research would equip them to endure their first years of teaching by strengthening their capacities for adaptive instruction, data use, and reflection on teaching. However, there are often issues with the accessibility of such programs, as action research training is frequently relegated to under- or post-graduate internships, teacher education programs with action research requirements, (under)graduate-level action research courses, or professional development schools ( Price, 2001 ; Levin and Rock, 2003 ; Hagevik et al., 2012 ; Yan 2017 ; Jakhelln and Pörn, 2019 ; Dassa and Nichols, 2020 ). Among these commonly-cited constraints imposed by such models, trainees have also noted that such experiences are difficult to participate in due to the inaccessibility of resources, materials, and institutional support, indicating issues with both the scalability and sustainability of ARPD programs ( Clarke et al., 2006 ; Looi et al., 2006 ). In consideration of these factors, the present research takes a three-pronged approach in which we: 1) present a scalable and easily-implementable module with active, case-based, and collaborative exercises designed to introduce educators to action research; 2) characterize the impact of the module through defining shifts in participants’ cognitive outcomes and affective dispositions toward action research; and 3) define benefits and potential barriers to participants’ future engagement in action research.

Specifically, a quasi-experimental mixed methods approach was employed to address the following research questions:

1. How does engagement in the ARPD intervention influence participants’ comprehension of action research theory and practice?

2. To what extent do participants’ conceptualizations of the action research process shift, if at all, as a result of engagement in the ARPD intervention?

3. What impact does the ARPD intervention have on participants’ attitudes toward the design, nature, and significance of action research as well as their perceived self-efficacy with respect to conducting an action research study?

4. What perceptions do participants hold regarding the potential benefits and barriers of engaging in action research?

We hypothesized that participants would experience developments in their knowledge of and affect toward action research due to the highly-interactive and scaffolded nature of the ARPD module. This assertion is corroborated by previous studies in the field, which demonstrate that ARPD initiatives can positively impact various aspects of trainees’ teaching self-efficacy as well as their understanding of the relationship between action research and classroom praxis ( Carboni et al., 2007 ; Medwell and Wray, 2014 ). Collectively, the findings of the current study will provide insight into both the efficacy of the intervention, as described herein, as well as formative feedback for enhancing future ARPD initiatives on a local and national scale.

2 Historical and Epistemological Perspectives on Action Research

The advent of action research is most attributed to Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist whose research applied social science methods to develop practical solutions to address social and group issues. Lewin and his students first employed action research approaches to characterize group structures in neighborhood and factory settings ( Adelman, 1993 ). As a result of exposing individuals in these contexts to democratic vs. autocratic leadership structures, Lewin and his team documented the positive impacts of democratic leadership on productivity and collaboration whilst also demonstrating the effectiveness of action research as a form of iterative inquiry to incite change ( Lewin and Lippitt, 1938 ; Lewin et al., 1939 ).

Lewin upheld a pragmatist position, famously stating that there is “no action without research; no research without action,” suggesting that inquiry, knowledge production, and the design of practical solutions to solve societal problems were tightly intertwined processes ( Adelman, 1993 ). Pragmatism is a “problem-focused” epistemological stance that emphasizes the desired solution or change over theory and antecedent knowledge ( Dewey, 1905 ; Cherryholmes, 1992 ). In pragmatism, scientific inquiry involves the: 1) identification of real-world issues (e.g., students struggling with classroom content); 2) action, in which the researcher attempts to answer the research question with the desired solution in mind; and 3) consequences, where the researcher assesses the consequences of their actions ( Oquist, 1978 ). These tenets are reflected in the definition of action research provided by Carr and Kemmis (1986) —which is employed in the present work—wherein it is described as:

“…a form of self-reflective inquiry undertaken by participants in social situations to improve the rationality and justice of their practices, their understanding of these practices, and the situations in which practices are carried about” (p. 162).

During action research, practitioners are to engage in self-reflective cycles of planning to rectify an issue identified within a teacher’s practice, acting upon that plan by shifting pedagogical approaches, observing the outcomes via data collection, and reflecting upon the outcomes of the intervention to restart the cycle or identify new questions ( Lewin, 1946 ). The pragmatist stance of action research stands in opposition to empiricism and positivism, which both conjecture that natural observation in consideration of pre-existing knowledge is the sole model of scientific inquiry ( Oquist, 1978 ). Further, the emphasis of action research on theory and practice as interrelated entities disagrees with structuralism, which views theory and practice as secular ( Eagleton, 1985 ).

Notably, positivist science remained the predominant mode of scientific practice throughout the 1940s into the early 1970s, resulting in waning interest in action research as a mode of knowledge production ( Sanford, 1976 ; Carr, 1994 ). However, action research practice eventually rose in popularity in the late 1970s and 80s as educationalists began implementing ARPD programs for in-service teachers ( Elliot and Adelman, 1976 ). This popularity continued into the late 20th and early 21st centuries, where action research practice is applied in a diverse array of academic disciplines such as nursing ( Munten et al., 2010 ), social work ( Healy, 2001 ), organizational psychology ( Huxham and Vangen, 2003 ), information sciences ( Nair et al., 2011 ), and education ( Willegems et al., 2017 ). This coincided with an increase in the development of ARPD throughout the mid-1990s to the present day, with curricula often designed around the premise of partnering in-service teachers with university-based researchers to engage in collaborative action research ( Clift et al., 1990 ; Altrichter et al., 1993 ; Valanides et al., 2003 ; Chin et al., 2006 ; Frankham and Howes, 2006 ; Markic and Eilks, 2006 ; Mitchell et al., 2009 ; Capobianco and Feldman, 2010 ; Hagevik et al., 2012 ).

3 The Current State of Action Research Professional Development

Action research has long been acknowledged as an effective tool for instructor PD, with programs geared toward in-service teacher engagement in action research emerging as early as the 1950s ( Corey, 1953 ). Only recently, however, have national teaching accreditation organizations called on teacher education programs to integrate experiences that improve a teacher’s proficiency in skills related to action research, such as reflection and data literacy ( National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), 2010 ; Gelfuso et al., 2015 ). While such experiences can lead to improvements in teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and confidence in teaching, it has been argued that ARPD must be positioned earlier in teacher education programs to ensure that educators develop a disposition toward constructivism and inquiry ( Crookes and Chandler, 2001 ; Kotsopoulos et al., 2012 ). Therefore, the following review focuses on novice educators—namely graduate teaching assistants, tutors, teacher candidates, pre-service teachers, and beginning teachers—and their outcomes following participation in ARPD programs.

Action research programs are often created to promote the cognitive development of educators, although those described in this review accomplished this to varying degrees of success ( Willegems et al., 2017 ). The literature describes a variety of action research-focused courses and degree programs that were successful in imparting knowledge of action research (KNOW; Table 1 ) to novice teachers ( Fueyo and Neves, 1995 ; Stevens and Kitchen, 2004 ; Schulte, 2017 ). Faikhamta and Clarke (2015) , for example, implemented an upper-division action research course with concomitant action research practice to undergraduate pre-service teachers enrolled in an education degree program. While trainees initially struggled to formulate research questions and did not see the utility of action research, final journal reflections indicated that they understood action research as a systematic inquiry to inform instructional change. Similar outcomes have been illustrated in undergraduate and graduate courses with integrated action research projects, in which prospective and novice teachers shifted their perceptions of action research as being purely practical to ones in which action research was viewed as an effective and organized method based in theory to improve upon practice ( Smith and Sela, 2005 ; Carboni et al., 2007 ; Odhiambo, 2010 ).


TABLE 1 . Literature review: Positive and negative outcomes of teacher involvement in action research.

Despite these findings, the literature also presents mixed results on the efficacy of action research-focused courses, degree programs, and internships on linking theoretical knowledge to practices ( Dang, 2013 ). For example, Valli (2000) describes a graduate action research course designed for teacher candidates; at the end of the course, participants expressed difficulty in describing the definition and relevance of action research to their teaching practice. Similarly, Jakhelln and Pörn (2019) analyzed the collaborative action research-based theses of undergraduate teacher candidates, which revealed a misunderstanding of the action research process, a disconnect between theory and practice, and little evidence of reflection on teaching methods. When successful, however, it is apparent that instruction on action research can enhance the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK; Table 1 ) of educators by increasing awareness of contextual factors, knowledge of disciplinary content, and expertise in constructivist instructional methods ( Shulman, 1986 ; Caro-Bruce and Zeichner, 1998 ; Gitlin et al., 1999 ; Moran 2007 ; Halim et al., 2010 ; Crawford-Garrett et al., 2015 ; Castro-Garcés and Martínez Granada, 2016 ).

Apart from knowledge and recognition of the utility of action research to pedagogical improvement, professional development programs that emphasize classroom research can promote positive affect in prospective and beginning educators ( Zambo and Zambo, 2007 ). Ten (10) of 37 reviewed studies reported increases in novice teachers’ self-efficacy related to their teaching and research abilities (SE; Table 1 ). Trainees who had designed research projects and collected data in association with a funded grant project, for example, reported improvements to their teaching self-efficacy and capacity to make instructional decisions; similar results are reported for graduate courses with an integrated action research module ( Lattimer, 2012 ; Medwell and Wray, 2014 ). In certain programs, it is apparent that the learning of action research concepts even resulted in the development of researcher and teacher identity in pre-service educators ( Burbank and Kauchak, 2003 ; Smith and Sela, 2005 ). Approximately half (16 of 37 articles) of the described interventions improved upon a participant’s capacity for reflective thinking (REFL; Table 1 ). For instance, Gore & Zeichner (1991) —and more recently Kotsopoulous et al. (2012) —report that teachers became acutely aware of the impact of their behaviors, pedagogical approaches, and instructional materials on student performance as a result of participating in ARPD interventions.

The implementation of action research practices is typically not required by institutions and, thus, training in action research is often only accessible through external professional development opportunities or during teacher education ( Kotsopoulos et al., 2012 ; Qing-li et al., 2019 ). First, of the 34 articles that reported the program length, novice teachers were asked to spend approximately six-and-a-half months, on average, engaged in ARPD programs, with many of these interventions requiring significant out-of-class time commitment ( Handsen and Nalder-Godfrey, 2004 ; Faikhamta and Clarke, 2015 ; Ulvik and Riese, 2016 ). Program length and accessibility may result in complications as these educators (who may still be students) are asked to simultaneously balance teaching fieldwork, coursework, extracurricular activities, part-time occupations, and/or full-time teaching positions in addition to their action research ( Caro-Bruce and Zeichner, 1998 ; Crookes and Chandler, 2001 ; Lattimer, 2012 ). For example, previous efforts have integrated action research into teacher education via enrollment in a year-long program at a professional development school, where apprentice teachers are trained in action research methods by on-site mentor teachers ( Rock and Levin, 2002 ; Levin and Rock, 2003 ). Similar programs have recruited university-based education researchers to train in-service teachers in both content knowledge and action research ( Markic and Eilks, 2006 ). While effective in advancing knowledge of action research, participants of such programs expressed disdain for the time constraints imposed upon their projects, which were seen as compromising to the success of their research and teaching efforts ( Levin and Rock, 2003 ). Moreover, the logistics of traveling to action research internships (which are usually unpaid) can act as a barrier for all teachers, but especially those teaching at rural schools ( Gitlin et al., 1999 ; Kennedy-Clark et al., 2018 ).

While traditional, logistical barriers to research are present in the literature (e.g., time; proximity to study sites; difficulties obtaining a substitute), other types of obstacles can limit teacher engagement in action research. In our review, we found that 17 of 37 sources described obstacles that educators may encounter when accessing ARPD programs (ACCS; Table 1 ). Logistical barriers to access include the lack of resources for novice researchers to complete an action research study, inability to access a study population due to Institutional Review Board regulations, or absence of support from the institution at which the research was to be conducted ( Smith and Sela, 2005 ; Atay 2006 ; Ulvik and Riese, 2016 ). Full immersion in ARPD and/or the action research process could similarly be obstructed by experiencing collaborative differences with classmates or other teachers, as suggested by 19 of the 37 articles reviewed (CLDF, Table 1 ).

Furthermore, educators can experience “skill-based” barriers to engaging in the technical and analytical components of action research practice. For example, pre-service and beginning teachers have expressed difficulty searching for and synthesizing the education research literature, citing the highly-technical language used in education research articles as inaccessible ( Gitlin et al., 1999 ; Odhiambo, 2010 ). Additionally, those who participate in ARPD programs often experience difficulties aligning their data collection strategy with their study objectives and, likewise, struggle to analyze the data they collect ( Gray and Campbell-Evans, 2002 ; Faikhamta and Clarke, 2015 ). Despite the prevalence of trainee involvement in data collection during ARPD programs, instruction on data collection and analysis is not usually offered as part of these programs, and subjects in only four of 37 articles reported increased capacity to analyze and interpret data (DATA; Table 1 ). Given the data-intensive focus of action research, these findings suggest a need for ARPD programs to integrate instruction on the respective strengths and weaknesses of quantitative and qualitative methods to encourage alignment between the data collected and the objectives of an action research study as well as to minimize the “skill-based” barriers to engaging in action research.

As evidenced by this review of the literature, cognitive (e.g., understanding of action research) and affective (e.g., teaching self-efficacy) teacher outcomes improve upon engagement in ARPD opportunities. Despite these findings, more than half of the reviewed papers described barriers that may prevent teachers from accessing and/or wholly participating in all components of ARPD opportunities (e.g., distance from a professional development school; difficulties finding a substitute). Furthermore, barriers persist even after teachers gain access to ARPD opportunities, as participants are often faced with time constraints (e.g., balancing teaching and research), the general absence of institutional and administrative support as they begin conducting action research, and “skill-based” challenges (e.g., lack of scientific literacy; data analysis skills). The results of this literature review highlight an explicit need for the creation of accessible ARPD experiences that develop instructors’ knowledge and awareness of action research as a tool for educational change. The intervention described herein aims to accomplish this goal through the implementation of a scalable, low-cost, three-session workshop on action research intended to introduce prospective and in-service STEM teachers to the: 1) underlying theory and purpose of action research; 2) strengths and weaknesses of various action research approaches; and 3) the significance of action research to teaching and learning within the STEM disciplines.

4 Materials and Methods

4.1 participant recruitment and research design.

Participants were students ( N = 26) enrolled in a cross-listed Scientific Teaching course, spread across two cohorts—one in the spring of 2017 and another in the spring of 2019. In aggregate, participants were equal parts undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in STEM majors/programs at a Southwestern, research-intensive, Hispanic-Serving Institution. Roughly 30% of all participants ( n = 8) lacked any form of teaching experience, with the remainder of participants representing diverse teaching backgrounds in K-16 contexts including test preparation, tutoring, and peer-led team learning ( Table 2 ).


TABLE 2 . Demographic characteristics of action research module participants.

4.2 Description of the Action Research Module

We employed constructivist approaches to develop a three-session curricular intervention (180 min of total instruction) that exposed participants to action research concepts ( Table 3 ). During the first session, we held a brief interactive lecture ( Supplementary Appendix S1.1 )—accompanied by a graphic organizer ( Supplementary Appendix S1.2 )—to introduce our participants to action research. Following, participants were engaged in an active “Design an Action Research Study” exercise ( Supplementary Appendix S1.3 ), in which they were able to select from three cases describing common classroom issues, discuss a plan to address this issue, select fitting methodological approaches (e.g., surveys; interviews), and interpret mock data corresponding to their questions. We purposefully structured this activity to emulate the process of inquiry and to reinforce the appropriate methodologies for conducting action research such as study design, mixed methods data collection, data interpretation, iteration, and dissemination. Students were asked to work in teams of 4–5 to encourage discussion of action research methods and promote collaborative problem-solving amongst groups. In the final session of the workshop, we integrated concept mapping and group discussion techniques throughout the “gallery walk” section of the module, which allowed participants to constructively analyze similarities and differences between their conceptions of action research.


TABLE 3 . Module learning objectives and lesson plan.

4.3 Instruments and Data Analysis

To explore participants’ developments in the cognitive and affective domains following engagement in our intervention, we administered a series of surveys in a pre-/post-module format. Descriptive and frequency statistics were calculated using SPSS (v.25, IBM). Where appropriate, paired t-tests with accompanying measures of effect size (Cohen’s d ) were conducted to detect shifts in participant outcomes. The study was approved by The University of Texas at El Paso’s Institutional Review Board under protocol ID No. 1002489. Survey instruments and specific methods of analysis are described below.

4.3.1 Action Research Content Quiz

The Action Research Content (ARC) quiz is a multiple-choice, 10-question assessment designed to measure teachers’ knowledge of action research before and after participation in the module. All questions were created in-house, based on Mills (2000) Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher , which reviews the core concepts, theoretical grounding, and potential utility of action research as a classroom resource. Questions can be found in Supplementary Appendix S2.1 .

4.3.2 Attitudes Toward Education and Action Research Questionnaire

To complement the action research quiz, we designed and administered the Attitudes Toward Education and Action Research (ATEAR) questionnaire. The ATEAR is a 22-item student assessment of learning gains (SALG) survey used to capture participants’ affect toward the nature and overall significance of action research. The ATEAR includes statements to evaluate participants’ self-efficacy and confidence in conducting action research, attitudes on who may be the focus of an action research project, and attitudes toward the use of quantitative/qualitative methods in action research. To maintain alignment with previously published instruments, we integrated items from the work of Taruc (2016) and Morales et al. (2016) , which were modified to fit the format of standard SALG items. Participants were asked to record their responses to the assessment on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (“1”) to strongly agree (“5”). Face equivalence was used to categorize the subscales of the ATEAR rather than factor analysis, given our minimal sample size ( Taber, 2018 ). We further examined the Cronbach’s α values for the ATEAR, which indicated moderate to excellent internal consistency for the overall instrument (α pre = 0.836, α post = 0.912) and amongst its subscales (α pre = 0.587 - 0.856, α post = 0.679 - 0.864). While these values indicate the reliability of the ATEAR, we applied the Bonferroni method during analysis to correct p -values for multiple comparisons across the ATEAR subscales and minimize the risk for type 1 errors.

4.3.3 Action Research Flowchart Assessment

The action research process is considered dynamic, as opposed to a series of concrete steps. Putting aside positivist assumptions, the process of action research is not wholly dissimilar to the scientific process in which iteration, unpredictability, and adaptability are commonplace ( Aguinis, 1993 ). To obtain a thorough understanding of participants’ views of the action research process, we asked them to complete the Action Research Flowchart Assessment (ARFA)—a modified version of the Scientific Process Flowchart Assessment (SPFA; Wilson and Rigakos, 2016 ). The ARFA ( Supplementary Appendix S2.2 ) allows for the visualization of changes in participants’ cognitive representations of the action research process—a feature that multiple-choice questions lack ( Novick, 2001 ; Burkhard, 2005 ; Smith et al., 2013 ; Tversky, 2014 ; Zvauya et al., 2017 ). Participants were asked to construct a flowchart that most accurately represented their perception of the action research process, including: 1) generalized steps of the action research process; 2) factors that make for a good action research project; 3) reasons for doing action research; and 4) what action research influences and, in turn, what it is influenced by. The instrument allows for participants to assemble interconnected and tiered visualizations that represent their mental model of the action research process ( Wilson and Rigakos, 2016 ). Likewise, the ill-structured prompt allows participants to connect their model in such a way that denotes flow and clarifies how they view relationships between action research concepts, similar to concept maps ( Markham et al., 1994 ).

Responses to the assessment were scored using a similarly modified version of the SPFA scoring criteria ( Supplementary Appendix S2.2 ). The categories to score flowchart connectivity and interconnectivity remained unchanged, while the intermediary categories were modified to measure: 1) action research project design competence; 2) the reasons for doing action research; and 3) the nature of action research. The creation of such categories was informed by Mills (2000) Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher and reviews of the use of action research in K-16 contexts ( Womack, 1997 ; Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999 ; Willegems et al., 2017 ). All ARFA responses were blinded and scored by two individuals with expertise in biology education (D.E. and J.T.O.). Strong interrater reliability was observed ( κ = 0.911; p < 0.001), with all disputes resolved through discussion between the coders. Paired t-tests were subsequently used to assess participants’ performance on each of the five categories represented in the rubric as well as their holistic score (representing their overall knowledge and understanding of the action research process).

4.3.4 Open-Ended Prompts

Instruction in action research is offered less often to beginning teachers relative to instances in which it is designed for experienced teachers ( Holm et al., 1999 ; Ginns et al., 2001 ). We were therefore curious about the professional benefits and perceived barriers that prospective and in-service educators within our sample associated with conducting action research. We asked participants two open-ended questions following completion of the intervention: 1) What long-lasting effects, if any, do you believe conducting an action research project would have on your professional career? and 2) What potential problems/difficulties would you anticipate encountering if you were to engage in action research, and how would you resolve them? Written responses to these questions were coded using a descriptive-interpretive approach, with emergent themes identified following iterative cycles of open and axial coding ( Tesch, 2013 ). Each response was coded independently by two researchers (D.E. and J.T.O.) with advanced experience in biology education. Strong interrater reliability was observed between coders ( κ = 0.870; p < 0.001), with all disputes resolved via discussion between the coders. Frequency statistics for each code are presented to provide indices of the commonality of responses, with an aggregate list of exemplar quotes likewise included for each theme.

5.1 Participants Gained a Greater Understanding of Action Research

We initially hypothesized that we would observe an increase in participants’ understanding of action research concepts such as knowledge of the cyclic nature of action research and identification of the types of data that could be collected. Paired t -test analysis indicated a significant increase [ t (25) = 4.960; p < 0.001] in participants’ pre-intervention ( M pre = 4.62, SD = 1.47) to post-intervention ( M post = 5.96, SD = 1.51) ARC quiz scores, with a large effect size observed (Cohen’s d = 0.97 following adjustment for paired data).

5.2 Impacts of the ARPD Module on Participant Affect Toward Action Research

In facilitating this action research module, we were focused on strengthening participants’ affective dispositions toward action research practice. In analyzing responses to the ATEAR, we found improvements to participants’ attitudes toward action research as well as prominent ceiling effects that persisted from the beginning to the end of the module ( Table 4 ). We observed significant increases in students’ agreement with the purpose of action research practice as well as in their appreciation for the importance of reflection as part of the action research process. Moreover, participants strongly agreed with statements suggesting that “action research investigates issues of practical importance” and that it is a “valuable way to improve teaching and learning,” demonstrating that the module was successful in imparting the significance of action research onto participants. Despite these increases, we observed a ceiling effect on the collaboration item isomorphic to what was seen in the ARC quiz, suggesting that participants valued the role of collaboration in research similarly both before and after completing the action research module. Otherwise, we observed a significant increase in participants’ attitudes toward the importance of issues investigated by action research, with strong agreement to the statements that action research can improve both teaching and learning as well as contribute to curriculum and institutional improvement likewise being observed ( Table 4 ).


TABLE 4 . Attitudes Toward Education and Action Research (ATEAR)—SALG assessment results.

In our sample, participants strongly agreed that action research required time investment on both the pre- and post-ATEAR. The literature presents several examples of instructor resistance to action research practice due to time constraints and lack of support from both teacher educators and institutions ( Winograd and Evans, 1995 ; Lattimer, 2012 ; Ulvik and Riese, 2016 ; Bendtsen et al., 2019 ). As such, we designed this module with explicit attention toward strengthening participants’ confidence in their ability to conduct action research in the face of such obstacles. Analysis of the “self-efficacy” portion of the ATEAR revealed that the module was effective in accomplishing this goal, with significant increases noted in current and future educators’ confidence in their aptitude to independently develop and implement action research projects in their own classrooms as well as in their knowledge of action research practice.

Most action research programs detailed in the literature require teachers to design experiments and collect and analyze their own data ( Qing-li et al., 2019 ). However, few ARPD programs center on increasing teachers’ positive attitudes toward data collection and analysis. Our module emphasized these skills and, following participation in our program, participants exhibited statistically significant increases in their awareness of the foci of action research projects as well as in the utility of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Results indicate that participants entered the module cognizant of the fact that most action research projects are student-focused. However, we observed significantly-strengthened agreement in participants’ views of the potential of action research to address issues of instructor development and institutional reform. Regarding data awareness, participants exhibited statistically significant increases in their agreement with respect to the importance of both qualitative and quantitative methods to action research projects and teaching practices ( Table 4 ). This agreement did not wholly translate to confidence, however, as we observed that participants derived significantly greater confidence from qualitative but not quantitative methods experience.

5.3 Participants’ Cognitive Representations of the Action Research Process Became More Holistic and Cyclic

In addition to instruction on how to link theory and practice, we sought to educate participants about the structure and process, nature, and overall broader relevance of action research practice. In our analysis of participant responses to the ARFA, we found that participants gained a greater concept of the design of action research projects, with significant increases in their pre-module to post-module performance on both the item and rating score in the “Action Research Project Design” category of the ARFA ( Table 5 ). This is particularly encouraging given the module’s emphasis on the structure and “moments” of action research as well as the types of data that can be gleaned from action research projects. We observed a similar and statistically significant increase in participants’ item and rating scores for the “Nature of Action Research” category. Here, participants often highlighted the cyclic and flexible nature of action research. Further, they also put forward reasons that went beyond the classroom such as education policy reform and the critical role that dissemination plays in encouraging institutional change. Despite the considerations of the broader impacts of action research on education systems, however, participants rarely acknowledged the broader motivations of instructors to conduct action research. Overall, participants achieved a ‘naïve’ level in the pre-to post-module item and rating scores related to the “Reasons for Doing Action Research” criterion of the ARFA ( Table 5 ). When considered by participants, however, certain motivations for instructor engagement in action research included strengthening student outcomes and developing their own (i.e., the respondent’s) capacity for teaching.


TABLE 5 . Student performance on the Action Research Flowchart Assessment (ARFA).

Of note is the change in participants’ cognitive representations of the action research process throughout the module. As described earlier, action research is a cyclic process—the “moments” of which involve planning, acting, observing, and reflecting—used to resolve classroom issues ( Kemmis et al., 2013 ). The “moments” of the cycle, however, must not be viewed as a set of predefined steps but rather components of a broader dynamic process that complements the non-linear nature of classroom issues ( Kemmis et al., 2013 ). While no significant change in item nor rating score was documented with respect to connectivity (i.e. , the number of arrows used), we observed significant changes in the “interconnectivity” metric. Initially, participants primarily represented the action research process in a way that was linear, disconnected, and lacked the four “moments” of action research (plan, act, observe, reflect; Lewin, 1946 ). Following the module, participant depictions of the action research process were frequently circular, with, for example, lines often interconnecting the “observe” bubble to that of the “act” bubble, suggesting that they were conceptualizing iteration as part of the dynamic action research process.

5.4 Participants Reported Positive Beliefs About the Career Benefits of Engaging in Action Research Practices

To examine the benefits associated with their engagement in conducting action research studies in the future, we probed participants about the impact that action research might have on their career-long professional development ( Table 6 ). Here, approximately 73% of participants provided responses related to the improvement of their pedagogical content knowledge ( Shulman, 1986 ). Participant responses included themes related to increased understanding of pedagogy (e.g. , curriculum development), content knowledge, and awareness of contextual factors that might impact their students’ learning outcomes to, ultimately, create a productive and effective learning environment. Moreover, participants (23%) noted that action research would make them cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, which they could then amend through engagement in subsequent action research cycles. Pertinently, 19% of the participants signified that the use of action research in their classroom could also impact student understanding of course material and isolate teaching techniques that could appropriately address students’ misconceptions. Some participants expressed goals that were broader in nature and expanded beyond both the classroom and institutional level, with responses (15%) suggesting that the use of action research could eventually bring about amendments to educational policy on a “local” and “global” scale. Finally, a subset of participants in our sample identified the value of collaborative practice to action research, suggesting that teaching improvement and educational reform could propagate more effectively as a result of collaboration with other instructors, stakeholders, and/or institutional representatives.


TABLE 6 . Emergent themes from participants’ responses to the question: “What long-lasting effects, if any, do you believe conducting an action research project would have on your professional career?”

5.5 Novice Action Researchers Anticipate Using Collaboration and Study Design Alterations to Address Challenges Associated With Implementing Action Research

In addition to the perceived benefits afforded by action research, we also asked participants what solutions they viewed as being effective to address the difficulties they anticipate facing when conducting action research projects ( Table 7 ). The most prominent solution proposed (35% of respondents) was to collaborate with other instructors, university-based faculty, and administrative staff. Respondents believed that, through collaboration, they could solve issues related to the design of their study, lack of resources, and absence of support and guidance. Interestingly, a related theme emerged from a subset of the responses (15%) that focused on the explanation of action research practices to address potential collaborative differences with colleagues and also to gain approval from other teachers who may be skeptical of action research. Otherwise, some participants raised concerns about the potential for student resistance to data collection during action research. For, example, one participant stated that:


TABLE 7 . Emergent themes from participants’ responses when asked the question: “What potential problems/difficulties would you anticipate encountering if you were to engage in action research, and how would you resolve them?

“A difficulty could be the data and actually getting students to truthfully participate. Various methods of surveying (data collection), pre-/post-surveying, extra credit could be used to help with non-compliant students.”

In addition to collaboration, participants expressed that they could solve study design issues through the incentivization of surveys via extra credit, repeated sampling, and longitudinal studies (7%). Lastly, some participants (31%) suggested that, by using planning and time management strategies, they could circumvent the time constraints commonly experienced by teacher-researchers. Here, they suggested that the explicit allocation of class time for research and assessment, setting realistic goals while designing action research projects, and scheduling could help make action research more manageable.

6 Discussion

Action research professional development supports educators’ ability to engage in data-based decision making and encourages the use of reflective practices in the classroom to enact positive change. There are many avenues by which teachers can gain action research experience, although access to such opportunities is often contingent upon available resources (e.g. , money; time), enrollment status (e.g. , graduate program; internship), and location of the school (e.g. , remote) in which they teach ( Goodnough, 2003 ; Buczynski and Hansen, 2010 ; Allen et al., 2011 ; Mitton-Kukner et al., 2015 ; Hillman, 2016 ). Relatedly, few studies have investigated the response of both pre-service and beginning teachers to action research, with most work in the field focusing on training more senior teachers in action research methodologies ( Holm et al., 1999 ; Ginns et al., 2001 ; Carboni et al., 2007 ). Therefore, the goals of the research described in this article were threefold, in which we offer a scalable educational module designed to enculturate prospective and in-service teachers in action research, present the impact of the intervention on participant outcomes, and characterize participants’ perceived benefits of and barriers to conducting action research after the module. Ultimately, we observed marked increases in participants’ affect, awareness of the utility of data to their teaching practice, and knowledge of action research design and methods.

6.1 Increased Affect Toward Action Research Increases Teacher Preparation and May Decrease Attrition

The United States currently faces a severe and growing shortage of teachers, with teacher turnover among the most salient reasons for the growing demand ( Garcia and Weiss, 2019 ). Nationally, approximately 8% of educators—or nearly 240,000 teachers annually—will depart from their teaching positions due to dissatisfaction with teaching, unsupportive administration, or negative working conditions ( Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, 2017 ; Sutcher et al., 2019 ). Approximately 66% of annual teacher turnover in the United States is due to pre-retirement departures, with nearly one-third of educators leaving within the first three years of teaching ( National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003 ; Sutcher et al., 2019 ). The present research showed significant increases in participants’ self-efficacy associated with the design and implementation of action research projects as a result of participation in our intervention. Increased teaching self-efficacy relating to reflection, knowledge of classroom management, and pedagogical aptitude has been linked to decreased intent to leave the profession and increased student performance ( Mojavezi and Tamiz, 2012 ; Wang et al., 2015 ). Likewise, increased self-efficacy in the above areas has been correlated with teacher commitment and retention within the profession ( Yost, 2006 ; Chesnut and Cullen, 2014 ). Based on the results of our study, the action research module is effective in augmenting participant affect, potentially decreases the skill-based barriers that prevent teachers from engaging in action research (e.g., lack of familiarity with data collection/analysis approaches), and can possibly serve as a scaffold to aid in teacher retention.

6.2 Awareness of Data Use Can Support Student Outcomes

As K-16 science education reform efforts continue to emphasize the use of evidence-based practices, it is imperative to train educators to collect and use data to guide instructional decisions ( NGSS Lead States, 2013 ; NRC 2012). Both teachers and school officials often use personal anecdotes—instead of student data and feedback—to make decisions on policy and pedagogy ( Flowers and Carpenter, 2009 ). Training in action research, however, can facilitate the development of data literacy and awareness, which, in turn, can support data-based decision making in the classroom ( Faikhamta and Clarke, 2015 ; Dassa and Nichols, 2020 ). In the present research, participant responses to the ATEAR suggested greater awareness of the importance of data collection to research and teaching. These increases were likely mediated by the sections of the module that emphasized methods of data collection and analysis, such as the “Introduction to Action Research” presentation ( Supplementary Appendix S1.1 ) and the hypothetical data that participants were asked to interpret during the “Design an Action Research Study” exercise ( Supplementary Appendix S1.3 ). Our results, overall, suggest that the module positively impacted participants’ attitudes regarding the importance of data collection for research and curriculum design purposes. It can be posited that positive dispositions toward the utility of data may contribute to teachers’ receptiveness to collect data from their students to inform instructional reform. This, in turn, can serve to develop teachers’ pedagogical knowledge whilst augmenting student achievement ( van Geel et al., 2016 ).

6.3 Increased Knowledge of Action Research Can Address “Survival Mindset”

Educators face many difficulties upon initial entry into the teaching profession. When establishing their practice, teachers are tasked with crafting lesson plans, managing scarce supplies, deciphering school norms, and learning how to manage a classroom ( Veenman, 1984 ). Consequently, beginning teachers often express a “survival mindset” in which concerns of how to get through the day take precedent over pedagogical improvement ( Katz, 1972 ). As such, it may seem counterproductive to engage beginning teachers in action research if it only adds to their already-large workload. However, action research addresses many of the initial struggles experienced by beginning teachers and empowers them to systematically examine their practice while learning more about the relationship between their teaching and students’ behaviors and outcomes ( Wastin and Han, 2014 ). As evidenced by analysis of the ARC and ARFA data, participants in our study exhibited strengthened knowledge of action research practice as well as a greater understanding of the design and application of action research. Studies have highlighted that knowledge in action research can improve the employability of teachers upon entry into the job market ( Schulte, 2017 ). Likewise, knowledge of action research practice can facilitate positive attitudes toward school-wide collaborative practices and the formation of learning communities, thereby strengthening teaching practices and student achievement at the institutional level ( Darling-Hammond, 2008 ; Vescio et al., 2008 ; Schulte 2017 ). Even in situations where teachers do not engage in further action research, they report using the skills learned during ARPD—such as reflection—during their daily practice ( McDonough, 2006 ). The results of the present research indicate an increased understanding of the linkage between theory and practice, which can assist novice action researchers and educators at all levels in overcoming “survival mindset” by developing their capacity for assessment design and adaptive teaching.

6.4 The Perceived Benefits of Action Research Practice

To the best of our knowledge, no previous studies have defined the perceived advantages or constraints that, respectively, encourage or prevent teachers from ever engaging in action research. The present research found that participants perceived that—should they engage in action research practice following the module—they would see improvements in their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), capacity to reflect on data to inform future teaching methods, and opportunities for collaboration, which would mediate increases in student performance. Possessing PCK and an understanding of action research helps educators assess the impacts of the unique contextual factors within their classroom, their understanding of the material, and instructional methods on student outcomes ( Shulman, 1986 ). An improved awareness of contextual factors and student needs is well documented in the literature on action research programs, with trainees noting that action research empowers them to take a more holistic approach to instruction to understand the lived experiences of their students ( Kosnik and Beck, 2000 ; Stevens and Kitchen, 2004 ; Goodnough, 2011 ). An understanding of student needs is an integral first step to problematizing during the action research process. The present module integrated case studies where recognition of students’ struggles or problematic contextual factors was critical to progression in the “Design an Action Research Study” group exercise. Preparation to reflect upon collected data and reveal issues in even the esoteric facets of classroom dynamics—such as student difficulties and interactions—may help teachers to design instruction amenable to the learning needs of diverse students ( Crawford-Garrett et al., 2015 ). Ostensibly, individuals could then account for the challenges (personal or otherwise) that they encounter as educators and work toward improving in target areas identified by their action research, thereby beginning the process of continuous professional development informed by classroom data ( Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999 ).

6.5 Methods to Address Potential Issues During Action Research

When asked about the potential impediments to future involvement in action research, participants in our study focused mainly on logistical issues such as lack of time and resources. Participants suggested that they would form collaborations with university-based researchers, administrative faculty, or other teachers to address such challenges. Action research can increase teacher attitudes toward collaborative practice and dialogue between colleagues and, thus, is a viable solution to many of the logistical issues raised by our participants ( Burbank and Kauchak, 2003 ). However, a subset of our participants also described their concerns about action research, specifically on survey use, sample size, and an overall fear of student resistance to participation in action research. Student resistance to unfamiliar, student-centered classroom practices are common—especially when their other classes perpetuate the use of didactic lecturing and objectivist, rather than constructivist, knowledge construction ( Owens et al., 2020 ). Likewise, students can often become “survey fatigued” and lack a sense of buy-in necessary for the researcher to obtain enough data to deduce the classroom practices that require reform ( Porter et al., 2004 ).

While this may be the case, previous studies have indicated that the heightened interactivity associated with action research data collection can decrease student resistance and increase student cooperation (i.e., response rates) with respect to action research projects ( Rogers et al., 2007 ). Classroom action research is unique in that data can be easily collected from the assignments that students complete as part of their regular coursework without the need to implement external assessments used solely to evaluate student outcomes. For those concerned about student resistance to action research activities, it can be beneficial to select or design assessments that possess the dual purpose of being both a research and teaching tool, which can serve to build student knowledge as well as obtain data to improve teaching and learning within the classroom (see Cooper et al., 2002 , as an example). For assessments that may be more cumbersome or loosely aligned with curricular goals (e.g., assessments of affect or vocational goals), teachers can also offer extra credit to students to improve response rates ( Luccasen and Thomas, 2014 ). While not explicitly addressed in our instructional module, future facilitators should plan to discuss methods to decrease student resistance to student-centered instruction and increase student participation in action research by way of informing participants of the benefits of active learning, assessment design, and how to equitably offer research incentives (see Goodman et al., 2015 ; Tharayil et al., 2018 , for review).

6.6 For Practitioners and Educators Looking to Facilitate ARPD

Despite the success of this intervention in improving participants’ knowledge of and affect toward action research, we, in no way, are suggesting this module is a panacea for ARPD. By design, we structured the action research module as a concise, three-session intervention to maximize scalability and promote its deployment in a variety of contexts. For the school administrator who intends to motivate teachers to engage in action research, the module can be completed in a series of 60-min sessions over three weeks, as was done in this study. This brief yet effective module can, likewise, be implemented alongside other interventions such as at the beginning of teacher education courses, internships in action research, or degree-granting programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. As evidenced by participants’ positive attitudes toward data use, the module provides an efficient scaffold upon which to build on teachers’ quantitative and qualitative data literacy and, thus, can be implemented as a precursor to more sophisticated instruction in data literacy (see, as examples, Reeves and Honig, 2015 ; Dunlap and Piro, 2016 ). Furthermore, instructors of teacher research courses may be interested in implementing the module at the beginning of their courses to introduce their students to concepts of action research methodologies while improving upon students’ related affective dispositions. In consideration of the resources of individual schools and school districts, such as the availability of support and time, the module is openly-available (see Supplementary Appendices S1.1–1.3 ) and low-cost and, therefore, can likely be effectively implemented across a diversity of learning environments ( Soneral and Wyse, 2017 ).

Data Availability Statement

The datasets presented in this article are not readily available because the approved study protocol and consent form explicitly state that data will not be shared with external parties except in instances where the research team is required to do so by law. Requests to access the datasets should be directed to Jeffrey Olimpo, [email protected] .

Ethics Statement

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by The University of Texas at El Paso Institutional Review Board. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.

Author Contributions

D.E., R.L.A., and J.T.O. contributed to the conception and design of the study. D.E. and J.T.O. led all data collection and analysis efforts with input from R.L.A. All authors were responsible for writing and revising sections of the manuscript. All authors read through and approved of the final draft of the manuscript submitted for consideration in Frontiers.

Research reported in this publication was supported, in part, by NIGMS/NIH Award Numbers RL5GM118969, TL4GM118971, and UL1GM118970.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


We are indebted to each of the individuals who participated in this action research module; their responsiveness and willingness to participate ultimately aided in our understanding of pre- and in-service educators’ knowledge of and attitudes toward action research.

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2021.754097/full#supplementary-material

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Keywords: teacher preparation, teacher education, action research, professional development (PD), K-12, active learning

Citation: Esparza D, Lynch-Arroyo RL and Olimpo JT (2022) Empowering Current and Future Educators: Using a Scalable Action Research Module as a Mechanism to Promote High-Quality Teaching and Learning in STEM. Front. Educ. 6:754097. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.754097

Received: 05 August 2021; Accepted: 01 December 2021; Published: 18 January 2022.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2022 Esparza, Lynch-Arroyo and Olimpo. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Jeffrey T. Olimpo, [email protected]



Action Research as an Inquiry-Based Teaching Practice Model for Teacher Education Programs

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Although the role of action research is critically highlighted in research, it is not widely used by teachers in most schools. It may also be that our teacher education does not equip us with the necessary confidence to conduct much inquiry ourselves. This study aimed to investigate the experiences of early childhood preservice teachers. Participants were engaged in action research within their field experience and research project courses. Data sources for the study included observation notes gathered during weekly meetings with preservice teachers, observation notes from classroom discussions, and semi-structured interviews conducted afterwards. The study supports the call for enhancing the quality of early years education through inquiry-based approaches such as incorporating research tasks with practicum activities during teacher training.

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I would like to thank my dear students, the partners of this study, who are now all early childhood teachers.

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Aras, S. Action Research as an Inquiry-Based Teaching Practice Model for Teacher Education Programs. Syst Pract Action Res 34 , 153–168 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-020-09526-9

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21 Action Research Examples (In Education)

action research examples and definition, explained below

Action research is an example of qualitative research . It refers to a wide range of evaluative or investigative methods designed to analyze professional practices and take action for improvement.

Commonly used in education, those practices could be related to instructional methods, classroom practices, or school organizational matters.

The creation of action research is attributed to Kurt Lewin , a German-American psychologist also considered to be the father of social psychology.

Gillis and Jackson (2002) offer a very concise definition of action research: “systematic collection and analysis of data for the purpose of taking action and making change” (p.264).

The methods of action research in education include:

  • conducting in-class observations
  • taking field notes
  • surveying or interviewing teachers, administrators, or parents
  • using audio and video recordings.

The goal is to identify problematic issues, test possible solutions, or simply carry-out continuous improvement.

There are several steps in action research : identify a problem, design a plan to resolve, implement the plan, evaluate effectiveness, reflect on results, make necessary adjustment and repeat the process.

Action Research Examples

  • Digital literacy assessment and training: The school’s IT department conducts a survey on students’ digital literacy skills. Based on the results, a tailored training program is designed for different age groups.
  • Library resources utilization study: The school librarian tracks the frequency and type of books checked out by students. The data is then used to curate a more relevant collection and organize reading programs.
  • Extracurricular activities and student well-being: A team of teachers and counselors assess the impact of extracurricular activities on student mental health through surveys and interviews. Adjustments are made based on findings.
  • Parent-teacher communication channels: The school evaluates the effectiveness of current communication tools (e.g., newsletters, apps) between teachers and parents. Feedback is used to implement a more streamlined system.
  • Homework load evaluation: Teachers across grade levels assess the amount and effectiveness of homework given. Adjustments are made to ensure a balance between academic rigor and student well-being.
  • Classroom environment and learning: A group of teachers collaborates to study the impact of classroom layouts and decorations on student engagement and comprehension. Changes are made based on the findings.
  • Student feedback on curriculum content: High school students are surveyed about the relevance and applicability of their current curriculum. The feedback is then used to make necessary curriculum adjustments.
  • Teacher mentoring and support: New teachers are paired with experienced mentors. Both parties provide feedback on the effectiveness of the mentoring program, leading to continuous improvements.
  • Assessment of school transportation: The school board evaluates the efficiency and safety of school buses through surveys with students and parents. Necessary changes are implemented based on the results.
  • Cultural sensitivity training: After conducting a survey on students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences, the school organizes workshops for teachers to promote a more inclusive classroom environment.
  • Environmental initiatives and student involvement: The school’s eco-club assesses the school’s carbon footprint and waste management. They then collaborate with the administration to implement greener practices and raise environmental awareness.
  • Working with parents through research: A school’s admin staff conduct focus group sessions with parents to identify top concerns.Those concerns will then be addressed and another session conducted at the end of the school year.
  • Peer teaching observations and improvements: Kindergarten teachers observe other teachers handling class transition techniques to share best practices.
  • PTA surveys and resultant action: The PTA of a district conducts a survey of members regarding their satisfaction with remote learning classes.The results will be presented to the school board for further action.
  • Recording and reflecting: A school administrator takes video recordings of playground behavior and then plays them for the teachers. The teachers work together to formulate a list of 10 playground safety guidelines.
  • Pre/post testing of interventions: A school board conducts a district wide evaluation of a STEM program by conducting a pre/post-test of students’ skills in computer programming.
  • Focus groups of practitioners : The professional development needs of teachers are determined from structured focus group sessions with teachers and admin.
  • School lunch research and intervention: A nutrition expert is hired to evaluate and improve the quality of school lunches.
  • School nurse systematic checklist and improvements: The school nurse implements a bathroom cleaning checklist to monitor cleanliness after the results of a recent teacher survey revealed several issues.
  • Wearable technologies for pedagogical improvements; Students wear accelerometers attached to their hips to gain a baseline measure of physical activity.The results will identify if any issues exist.
  • School counselor reflective practice : The school counselor conducts a student survey on antisocial behavior and then plans a series of workshops for both teachers and parents.

Detailed Examples

1. cooperation and leadership.

A science teacher has noticed that her 9 th grade students do not cooperate with each other when doing group projects. There is a lot of arguing and battles over whose ideas will be followed.

So, she decides to implement a simple action research project on the matter. First, she conducts a structured observation of the students’ behavior during meetings. She also has the students respond to a short questionnaire regarding their notions of leadership.

She then designs a two-week course on group dynamics and leadership styles. The course involves learning about leadership concepts and practices . In another element of the short course, students randomly select a leadership style and then engage in a role-play with other students.

At the end of the two weeks, she has the students work on a group project and conducts the same structured observation as before. She also gives the students a slightly different questionnaire on leadership as it relates to the group.

She plans to analyze the results and present the findings at a teachers’ meeting at the end of the term.

2. Professional Development Needs

Two high-school teachers have been selected to participate in a 1-year project in a third-world country. The project goal is to improve the classroom effectiveness of local teachers. 

The two teachers arrive in the country and begin to plan their action research. First, they decide to conduct a survey of teachers in the nearby communities of the school they are assigned to.

The survey will assess their professional development needs by directly asking the teachers and administrators. After collecting the surveys, they analyze the results by grouping the teachers based on subject matter.

They discover that history and social science teachers would like professional development on integrating smartboards into classroom instruction. Math teachers would like to attend workshops on project-based learning, while chemistry teachers feel that they need equipment more than training.

The two teachers then get started on finding the necessary training experts for the workshops and applying for equipment grants for the science teachers.

3. Playground Accidents

The school nurse has noticed a lot of students coming in after having mild accidents on the playground. She’s not sure if this is just her perception or if there really is an unusual increase this year.  So, she starts pulling data from the records over the last two years. She chooses the months carefully and only selects data from the first three months of each school year.

She creates a chart to make the data more easily understood. Sure enough, there seems to have been a dramatic increase in accidents this year compared to the same period of time from the previous two years.

She shows the data to the principal and teachers at the next meeting. They all agree that a field observation of the playground is needed.

Those observations reveal that the kids are not having accidents on the playground equipment as originally suspected. It turns out that the kids are tripping on the new sod that was installed over the summer.

They examine the sod and observe small gaps between the slabs. Each gap is approximately 1.5 inches wide and nearly two inches deep. The kids are tripping on this gap as they run.

They then discuss possible solutions.

4. Differentiated Learning

Trying to use the same content, methods, and processes for all students is a recipe for failure. This is why modifying each lesson to be flexible is highly recommended. Differentiated learning allows the teacher to adjust their teaching strategy based on all the different personalities and learning styles they see in their classroom.

Of course, differentiated learning should undergo the same rigorous assessment that all teaching techniques go through. So, a third-grade social science teacher asks his students to take a simple quiz on the industrial revolution. Then, he applies differentiated learning to the lesson.

By creating several different learning stations in his classroom, he gives his students a chance to learn about the industrial revolution in a way that captures their interests. The different stations contain: short videos, fact cards, PowerPoints, mini-chapters, and role-plays.

At the end of the lesson, students get to choose how they demonstrate their knowledge. They can take a test, construct a PPT, give an oral presentation, or conduct a simulated TV interview with different characters.

During this last phase of the lesson, the teacher is able to assess if they demonstrate the necessary knowledge and have achieved the defined learning outcomes. This analysis will allow him to make further adjustments to future lessons.

5. Healthy Habits Program

While looking at obesity rates of students, the school board of a large city is shocked by the dramatic increase in the weight of their students over the last five years. After consulting with three companies that specialize in student physical health, they offer the companies an opportunity to prove their value.

So, the board randomly assigns each company to a group of schools. Starting in the next academic year, each company will implement their healthy habits program in 5 middle schools.

Preliminary data is collected at each school at the beginning of the school year. Each and every student is weighed, their resting heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol are also measured.

After analyzing the data, it is found that the schools assigned to each of the three companies are relatively similar on all of these measures.

At the end of the year, data for students at each school will be collected again. A simple comparison of pre- and post-program measurements will be conducted. The company with the best outcomes will be selected to implement their program city-wide.

Action research is a great way to collect data on a specific issue, implement a change, and then evaluate the effects of that change. It is perhaps the most practical of all types of primary research .

Most likely, the results will be mixed. Some aspects of the change were effective, while other elements were not. That’s okay. This just means that additional modifications to the change plan need to be made, which is usually quite easy to do.

There are many methods that can be utilized, such as surveys, field observations , and program evaluations.

The beauty of action research is based in its utility and flexibility. Just about anyone in a school setting is capable of conducting action research and the information can be incredibly useful.

Aronson, E., & Patnoe, S. (1997). The jigsaw classroom: Building cooperation in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Gillis, A., & Jackson, W. (2002). Research Methods for Nurses: Methods and Interpretation . Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of SocialIssues, 2 (4), 34-46.

Macdonald, C. (2012). Understanding participatory action research: A qualitative research methodology option. Canadian Journal of Action Research, 13 , 34-50. https://doi.org/10.33524/cjar.v13i2.37 Mertler, C. A. (2008). Action Research: Teachers as Researchers in the Classroom . London: Sage.


Dave Cornell (PhD)

Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 25 Positive Punishment Examples
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 25 Dissociation Examples (Psychology)
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ 15 Zone of Proximal Development Examples
  • Dave Cornell (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/dave-cornell-phd/ Perception Checking: 15 Examples and Definition


Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 25 Positive Punishment Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 25 Dissociation Examples (Psychology)
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 15 Zone of Proximal Development Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link Perception Checking: 15 Examples and Definition

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  • Published: 09 May 2018

The Potential of Teacher-Led Research: Teachers’ Action Research Collaborations in Science Education in Singapore

  • Gavin W. Fulmer 1 ,
  • Hye-Eun Chu 2 &
  • Sonya N. Martin 3  

Asia-Pacific Science Education volume  4 , Article number:  7 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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This special issue presents action research projects that serve as examples of research collaborations among teachers and university faculty that are practically significant to both schools and teachers while also having potential to inform theory and build scholarly knowledge. We see these examples of teacher-led research as highlights of work carried out by science teachers as education researchers in Singapore. Action research has been emphasized in Singapore for over 15 years as a way to promote school-based educational innovations and teachers’ self-development (Hairon, 2006 , 2017 ; Tang, 2000 ). However, to date, teacher-led and school-based research following other research models in East Asian contexts, such as Japanese lesson study and Chinese model lessons, have been more widely recognized. This dearth of published work belies the wide use of varied teacher-led research in Singaporean schools as many studies have been conducted over extended periods of time that encompass a wide range of topics. Unfortunately, relatively little has been published to describe the findings emerging from these action research projects.

The action research papers in this special issue originated from collaboration between school science teachers and university researchers and supervisors. The partnerships were bidirectional, establishing theoretical bases in teachers’ action research goals while helping the researchers have more direct views of research on implementation and teacher experience in real classrooms and school settings. Despite disagreement in the literature about how action research should be implemented (Beaulieu, 2013 ), we see that action research is not only a tool for professional development and lesson improvement, but also could serve as an avenue for engaging teachers in scholarship. Thus, the important idea coming from this set of special issue papers is that action research not only has immense potential help to increase teachers’ sense of reflection about teaching, it can also help teachers to look beyond the immediate classroom to speak to issues involving standards interpretation and implementation, novice teacher induction and retention, and more. Previously, these avenues of research were typically seen as the purview of university researchers or district personnel. Nevertheless, these studies show that teachers themselves have the capacity to develop as reflective practitioners, leaders, and researchers.

In the following introduction to this special issue, we give a brief background of the Singaporean education context and the role of action research in this context, summarize the papers that comprise the special issue, and then review the central theme from these action research reports.

Background on Singapore and its education system

Singapore’s education context is an example of a markedly cosmopolitan intersection of historical structures, cultural influences, and contemporary trends. The system has notable similarities to the UK, owing to its history as a British colony and ongoing membership in the Commonwealth of Nations (Gregory & Clarke, 2003 ). Singaporean students attend primary school for Grades 1–6 and secondary school for Grades 7–10, after which they have different routes depending on their own preferences, prior academic performance, and examination results. Singapore has its own adaptation of the Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE): The O-Level (Ordinary Level) that students sit at the end of Grade 10. Depending on their O-level results, Singaporean students may go to junior college for Grades 11–12, which prepares students for the GCE A-Level (Advanced Level) examinations and admission to university; to a polytechnic institute, which yields a three-year diploma suitable for entry-level employment in a variety of applied fields such as IT or nursing; or to a vocational education center, which offers two-year certificates in a skilled trade.

Singapore’s educational context demonstrates cultural influences similar to its Asian neighbors, especially those with Confucian bases. It is an assessment-driven society, influenced by cultural values regarding standardized examination systems similar to other Asian societies (Kennedy, 2007 ). Singapore also has a stated goal for the education system of supporting the national interest and developing a stable nation-state. That means participating in and endorsing the Singaporean meritocratic social model, inculcating values of multiculturalism and nation building, and developing students’ character, citizenship, and leadership (Gopinathan, 2012 ; Gregory & Clarke, 2003 ).

Singapore is also influenced by contemporary trends in education. Accountability pressure is constant, given the high social and economic stakes of standardized assessments for students, parents, teachers, and schools (Ng, 2010 ). The centralized teacher education system, while highly regarded, is also undergoing changes to incorporate new technological tools and to respond to educational models (Tan, 2018 ). At the same time, the Ministry of Education ( 2010 ) has adopted policies that target twenty-first century skills and promote innovation and adaptiveness. That has meant a move to soften the examination pressure, to provide multiple pathways for student advancement and recognition, and to promote alternative assessment practices at the school and classroom levels.

The role of action research in the system

Action research has been promulgated in Singapore by the Ministry of Education since 2000, during the introduction of a teacher collaborative platform called Learning Circles (Hairon, 2017 ), and has continued to be promoted in Singaporean schools at all levels in the past decade (Soh, 2011 ). Promotion of action research has resulted from education policymakers’ recognition of the need for innovations and improvements in the education system so that the Singaporean workforce can meet its future economic needs. Additionally, the Singapore Ministry of Education encourages use of action research as part of its school management and evaluation structures, such as the School Excellence Model and the Enhanced Performance Management System.

Singapore strives to be a leader in educational excellence, with attention to lessons learned from other countries and with extensive efforts at its own innovations. In examining the educational innovations in Singapore’s system, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] , 2014 ) found Singapore’s top five innovations in organizational policy and practice to be: (1) more use of incentives for secondary teachers; (2) more external evaluation of primary and secondary school classrooms; (3) more parental involvement in school projects, programs, and trips; (4) more peer evaluation of teachers in secondary education; and (5) more enrichment education for secondary science students.

These innovations cannot succeed without research—especially action research. While one cannot estimate in isolation the extent to which action research helps Singapore achieve its educational innovations and its relatively high PISA and TIMSS results, it likely plays a meaningful role due to the importance of standardized assessments and school ranking within the Singaporean system. In a context that prioritizes students’ performance, teachers may use action research as a way to incorporate new instructional approaches iteratively while ensuring that student learning outcomes are at least as good as what would be achieved with traditional methods of instruction (Goh & Goh, 2006 ). In this way, action research provides a mechanism for supporting classroom innovation while keeping in mind a consistent learning goal.

Papers in this special issue

Hairon ( 2017 ) presents an overview of action research as it has been adopted and implemented in Singapore. This paper updates and expands on Hairon’s ( 2006 ) paper on action research in this setting, discussing how action research has been officially promoted, but also reviewing some of the challenges that face teachers who enact action research. It discusses some of the presumptions and priorities in action research, compares action research to other approaches common to the system, such as lesson study and professional learning communities, and looks at the skills, expectations, and work culture needs for successful action research.

Fernandez ( 2017 ) conducts a quasi-experiment on students’ learning of thermal physics, comparing an inquiry-based instruction approach in one classroom with traditional instruction in two other classes. The inquiry-based approach helped improve the students’ conceptual understanding and their sense of self-efficacy. The findings demonstrate that inquiry-oriented approaches can be implemented effectively in Singaporean secondary classrooms, with results for both traditional learning outcomes as well as affective ones.

Chua et al. ( 2017 ) report findings from a study of feedback order for chemistry and mathematics secondary students. Previous work on feedback has suggested that score reporting tends to detract from students’ attention to written comments. But to withhold scores would be roundly criticized in the Singaporean context, where parents and students pay great attention to grades and performance. By delaying score reporting until after students have received and responded to written feedback, the authors find that the benefits of descriptive comments can be maintained.

Long and Bae ( 2018 ) report on interviews with beginning primary school teachers where they discuss their conceptions of science inquiry and their challenges in implementing inquiry in their classes. This work differs from conventional views of action research because the teacher focuses on novice teachers’ views and practices as they grapple with the transition to full-time teaching and the use of inquiry-oriented approaches, while dealing with challenges including assessment expectations and lack of resources and planning time.

Teo et al. ( 2017 ) report on a teacher’s experience with participatory action research (PAR) where the teacher and students engaged in cogenerative dialogue (cogen) sessions. The goal of the sessions was to help the teacher transition from a teacher-centered approach to a more student-centered approach using insights from the cogen and with co-teaching by the researcher. The findings serve as a case study in the process of using cogen to transform one’s teaching and show the potential for benefits of cogen in the Singapore context.

Lessons from this special issue

The papers included in this special issue are all built around teachers’ experiences planning, conducting, and reporting on their school-based research projects. The educational level varies from primary school to secondary school. The subject matter also varies widely: physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and elementary science. The scope of the research varies from cogenerative dialogue sessions, to classroom units, to interviews with teachers about their experiences across units. This is intentional. An analysis of research presented at a local conference in Singapore revealed that 71 projects were related to action research (Tan et al., 2009 ). Of these, 86% used quantitative methodologies and the remaining 14% used qualitative or mixed methodologies. That more teachers adopted quantitative methods may be explained by the accountability pressures that teachers feel as they must demonstrate the effectiveness of their lessons as stipulated by the Enhanced Performance Management System. The studies in this special issue provide a wide perspective, as they include more qualitative and mixed methods work in addition to quantitative work. The breadth and variability of methodologies allows this set of papers to offer a valuable new perspective of action research in the Singapore context.

The salient emerging theme from these papers is that teachers can serve as knowledgeable partners for research that can contribute directly to the academic debate. The teachers writing these special issue papers are drawing ideas from the academic literature to design and conduct teacher-driven research that touches directly on problems arising in school contexts. Through these partnerships, the papers are then able to draw inferences and communicate directly back to the academic literature. Scholars can read these papers as direct contributions to the body of literature in their respective fields. The pieces can also be seen as highlights of the quality work that teachers can lead with the collaborative support from university partners.

The key lessons from our special issue are that teachers are not simply consumers of research and that action research need not be confined to informing professional development or iterative lesson improvement. Instead, strategic partnerships among teachers and university-based researchers can provide opportunities to find classroom implications from previous literature and to expand the literature based on research that has close ties to teachers’ own experiences. While previous work on action research has often positioned it as a professional development exercise, collaborative work between teachers and researchers can yield findings that can speak back to the academic setting.

We encourage researchers in other settings to build similar connections with teachers that aim to empower them to take the lead in formulating research questions and pursuing promising research alongside faculty members. In this way, we advocate for teachers and their students to be positioned to contribute more equally to the examination of scholarly problems in school settings. We especially hope to see more research like this conducted in the Asia-Pacific region and for the findings of these collaborations to be shared with readers of Asia-Pacific Science Education (APSE). We believe APSE can continue to lead the way in providing a channel for disseminating research that can make a difference in the teaching and learning of science in the region and beyond (for more information, see Martin & Chu, 2015 ).

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Gavin W. Fulmer

School of Education, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Hye-Eun Chu

College of Education, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

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Gavin Fulmer is an Assistant Professor at University of Iowa in Iowa City, USA, and was formerly in the Curriculum, Teaching, & Learning Group at Singapore’s National Institute of Education. His research focuses on development, application, and implications of assessment in science education. Hye-Eun Chu is a Lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and was formerly in the Natural Sciences and Science Education Group at Singapore’s National Institute of Education. Her research focuses on monitoring students’ conceptual development and formative assessment practices in science classrooms. Sonya Martin is an Associate Professor of Science Education at Seoul National University in Korea. For many years, she has conducted classroom-based research with teachers and students using action research methodologies to improve science teaching and learning.

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Fulmer, G.W., Chu, HE. & Martin, S.N. The Potential of Teacher-Led Research: Teachers’ Action Research Collaborations in Science Education in Singapore. Asia Pac. Sci. Educ. 4 , 7 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41029-018-0024-5

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action research studies conducted by teachers

How Action Research Can Improve Your Teaching

pile of photos

Do you ever find yourself looking at a classroom problem with not a clue in the world about how to fix it? No doubt, teaching art is difficult. Sometimes the issues we face don’t have easy solutions.

One method that is worth looking into is action research. In action research, a teacher takes the time to analyze a problem and then cycles through specific steps to solve it. If you’re struggling with a problem in your classroom, this might be the perfect strategy to try!

What is action research?

Simply put, action research describes a research methodology used to diagnose and address problems. In a school setting, the teacher plays the role of the researcher, and the students represent the study participants. Action research is a meaningful way for a teacher to find out why students perform the way they do.

The term, “action research,” was coined in 1933 by Kurt Lewin to describe a scenario in which a researcher and participants collaborate to solve a specific problem. Donald Schön  developed this idea further with the term, “reflective practitioner,” to describe a researcher who thinks systematically about their practice.

Educators have taken both of these ideas into the classroom to better serve their students.

Here is a look at the basic structure of an action research cycle. You might notice it looks a lot like the Design Thinking Process.

  • The teacher recognizes and wonders about a problem in the classroom.
  • The teacher thinks about possible reasons students are having trouble.
  • The teacher collects and analyzes data.
  • The teacher comes up with solutions to try.
  • The teacher analyzes the solution.

In this model, if the first solution is not effective, the cycle starts over again. The teacher recognizes what remains of the problem and repeats the steps to collect more evidence and brainstorm new and different solutions.

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action research studies conducted by teachers

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Because the process is cyclical, the teacher can loop through the steps as many times as needed to find a solution. Perhaps the best part of action research is that teachers can see which solutions have made a real impact on their students. If you’re looking for an even more in-depth take on the topic, The Art of Classroom Inquiry: A Handbook for Teacher-Researchers  by Hubbard and Powers is a great place to start.

Action research can be as informal or formal as you need it to be. Data is collected through observation, questioning, and discussion with students. Student artwork, photographs of your classroom at work, video interviews, and surveys are all valid forms of data. Students can be involved throughout the whole process, helping to solve the problem within the classroom. With a formal study for a university, there will be requests for permission to use student data through the Institutional Research Board (IRB) process.

How can action research be implemented in your classroom?

I discovered action research while working on my higher degree. Using action research allowed me to find real solutions for real issues in my classroom and gave me my topic of study for my dissertation at the same time!

The problem I chose to address was how to engage students in an analog photography course in the digital age.

student taking photo

I broke my classes into two groups. I taught the district curriculum to one group and an altered curriculum to another. In the altered version, I included big ideas and themes that were important to students such as family, identity, and community.

To gather data, I observed, compared the quality of the photos, and conducted student interviews. I found students were much more engaged when I switched the projects from a technical study (i.e., demonstrating depth of field) to a more personal focus (breaking the teenage stereotype.)

What are the benefits of action research?

Using action research in my classroom allowed me to involve students in the curriculum process. They were actively more engaged within the classroom and felt ownership of their learning.

pile of photos

I was able to show them that teachers can be lifelong learners, and that inquiry is a powerful way to enact change within the classroom. The students cheered me on as I was writing and defended the results of my study. Plus, I was able to connect with them on a personal level, as we were all students. Furthermore, my teaching practice became more confident, and my understanding of art education theory deepened.

Conducting action research also allowed me to become a leader in my community. I was able to present a way to be a reflective practitioner within my classroom and model it for other teachers. I shared my new knowledge with the other art teachers in my district and invited them to try their own informal studies within their classrooms. We were able to shift our focus from one of compliance to one of inquiry and discovery, thus creating a more engaging learning environment for our students.

Action research provides a way to use your new knowledge immediately in your classroom. It allows you to think critically about why and how you run your art classroom. What could be better?

What kinds of issues are you facing in the classroom right now?

What kind of research study might you be interested in conducting?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

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  • What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples

What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples

Published on January 27, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on January 12, 2024.

Action research Cycle

Table of contents

Types of action research, action research models, examples of action research, action research vs. traditional research, advantages and disadvantages of action research, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about action research.

There are 2 common types of action research: participatory action research and practical action research.

  • Participatory action research emphasizes that participants should be members of the community being studied, empowering those directly affected by outcomes of said research. In this method, participants are effectively co-researchers, with their lived experiences considered formative to the research process.
  • Practical action research focuses more on how research is conducted and is designed to address and solve specific issues.

Both types of action research are more focused on increasing the capacity and ability of future practitioners than contributing to a theoretical body of knowledge.

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Action research is often reflected in 3 action research models: operational (sometimes called technical), collaboration, and critical reflection.

  • Operational (or technical) action research is usually visualized like a spiral following a series of steps, such as “planning → acting → observing → reflecting.”
  • Collaboration action research is more community-based, focused on building a network of similar individuals (e.g., college professors in a given geographic area) and compiling learnings from iterated feedback cycles.
  • Critical reflection action research serves to contextualize systemic processes that are already ongoing (e.g., working retroactively to analyze existing school systems by questioning why certain practices were put into place and developed the way they did).

Action research is often used in fields like education because of its iterative and flexible style.

After the information was collected, the students were asked where they thought ramps or other accessibility measures would be best utilized, and the suggestions were sent to school administrators. Example: Practical action research Science teachers at your city’s high school have been witnessing a year-over-year decline in standardized test scores in chemistry. In seeking the source of this issue, they studied how concepts are taught in depth, focusing on the methods, tools, and approaches used by each teacher.

Action research differs sharply from other types of research in that it seeks to produce actionable processes over the course of the research rather than contributing to existing knowledge or drawing conclusions from datasets. In this way, action research is formative , not summative , and is conducted in an ongoing, iterative way.

As such, action research is different in purpose, context, and significance and is a good fit for those seeking to implement systemic change.

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action research studies conducted by teachers

Action research comes with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Action research is highly adaptable , allowing researchers to mold their analysis to their individual needs and implement practical individual-level changes.
  • Action research provides an immediate and actionable path forward for solving entrenched issues, rather than suggesting complicated, longer-term solutions rooted in complex data.
  • Done correctly, action research can be very empowering , informing social change and allowing participants to effect that change in ways meaningful to their communities.


  • Due to their flexibility, action research studies are plagued by very limited generalizability  and are very difficult to replicate . They are often not considered theoretically rigorous due to the power the researcher holds in drawing conclusions.
  • Action research can be complicated to structure in an ethical manner . Participants may feel pressured to participate or to participate in a certain way.
  • Action research is at high risk for research biases such as selection bias , social desirability bias , or other types of cognitive biases .

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

Action research is conducted in order to solve a particular issue immediately, while case studies are often conducted over a longer period of time and focus more on observing and analyzing a particular ongoing phenomenon.

Action research is focused on solving a problem or informing individual and community-based knowledge in a way that impacts teaching, learning, and other related processes. It is less focused on contributing theoretical input, instead producing actionable input.

Action research is particularly popular with educators as a form of systematic inquiry because it prioritizes reflection and bridges the gap between theory and practice. Educators are able to simultaneously investigate an issue as they solve it, and the method is very iterative and flexible.

A cycle of inquiry is another name for action research . It is usually visualized in a spiral shape following a series of steps, such as “planning → acting → observing → reflecting.”

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

George, T. (2024, January 12). What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/action-research/
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2017). Research methods in education (8th edition). Routledge.
Naughton, G. M. (2001).  Action research (1st edition). Routledge.

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Educational Research Basics by Del Siegle

Action research.

An Introduction to Action Research Jeanne H. Purcell, Ph.D.

 Your Options

  • Review Related Literature
  • Examine the Impact of an Experimental Treatment
  • Monitor Change
  • Identify Present Practices
  • Describe Beliefs and Attitudes

Action Research Is…

  • Action research is a three-step spiral process of (1) planning which involves fact-finding, (2) taking action, and (3) fact-finding about the results of the action. (Lewin, 1947)
  • Action research is a process by which practitioners attempt to study their problems scientifically in order to guide, correct, and evaluate their decisions and action. (Corey, 1953).
  • Action research in education is study conducted by colleagues in a school setting of the results of their activities to improve instruction. (Glickman, 1990)
  • Action research is a fancy way of saying Let’s study what s happening at our school and decide how to make it a better place. (Calhoun,1994)

Conditions That Support Action Research

  • A faculty where a majority of teachers wish to improve some aspect (s) of education in their school.
  • Common agreement about how collective decisions will be made and implemented.
  • A team that is willing to lead the initiative.
  • Study groups that meet regularly.
  • A basic knowledge of the action research cycle and the rationale for its use.
  • Someone to provide technical assistance and/or support.

The Action Research Cycle

  • Identify an area of interest/problem.
  • Identify data to be collected, the format for the results, and a timeline.
  • Collect and organize the data.
  • Analyze and interpret the data.
  • Decide upon the action to be taken.
  • Evaluate the success of the action.

Collecting Data: Sources

Existing Sources

  • Attendance at PTO meetings
  • + and – parent communications
  • Office referrals
  • Special program enrollment
  • Standardized scores

Inventive Sources

  • Interviews with parents
  • Library use, by grade, class
  • Minutes of meetings
  • Nature and amount of in-school assistance related to the innovation
  • Number of books read
  • Observation journals
  • Record of peer observations
  • Student journals
  • Teacher journals
  • Videotapes of students: whole class instruction
  • Videotapes of students: Differentiated instruction
  • Writing samples

Collecting Data: From Whom?

  • From everyone when we are concerned about each student’s performance.
  • From a sample when we need to increase our understanding while limiting our expenditure of time and energy; more in-depth interviews or observations may follow.

Collecting Data: How Often?

  • At regular intervals
  • At critical points

Collecting Data: Guidelines

  • Use both existing and inventive data sources.
  • Use multiple data sources.
  • Collect data regularly.
  • Seek help, if necessary.

Organizing Data

  • Keep it simple.
  • Disaggregate numbers from interviews and other qualitative types of data.
  • Plan plenty of time to look over and organize the data.
  • Seek technical assistance if needed.

Analyzing Data

  • What important points do they data reveal?
  • What patterns/trends do you note? What might be some possible explanations?
  • Do the data vary by sources? Why might the variations exist?
  • Are there any results that are different from what you expected? What might be some hypotheses to explain the difference (s)?
  • What actions appear to be indicated?

Taking Action

  • Do the data warrant action?
  • What might se some short-term actions?
  • What might be some long-term actions?
  • How will we know if our actions have been effective?
  • What benchmarks might we expect to see along the way to effectiveness ?

Action Plans

  • Target date
  • Responsibility
  • Evidence of Effectiveness

Action Research Handout


Brubacher, J. W., Case, C. W., & Reagan, T. G. (1994). Becoming a reflective educator . Thousand Oaks: CA: Corwin Press.

Burnaford, G., Fischer, J., & Hobson, D. (1996). Teachers doing research . Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Calhoun, Emily (1994). How to use action research in the self-renewing school . Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Corey, S. M. (1953). Action research to improve school practices . New York: Teachers College Press.

Glickman, C. D. (1990). Supervision of instruction: A developmental approach . Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Hubbard, R. S. & Power, B. M. (1993). The art of classroom inquiry . Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Lewin, K. (1947). Group decisions and social change. In Readings in social psychology . (Eds. T M. Newcomb and E. L. Hartley). New York: Henry Holt.

Action Research Proposal Draft 660

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Americans’ social media use, youtube and facebook are by far the most used online platforms among u.s. adults; tiktok’s user base has grown since 2021.

To better understand Americans’ social media use, Pew Research Center surveyed 5,733 U.S. adults from May 19 to Sept. 5, 2023. Ipsos conducted this National Public Opinion Reference Survey (NPORS) for the Center using address-based sampling and a multimode protocol that included both web and mail. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race and ethnicity, education and other categories.

Polls from 2000 to 2021 were conducted via phone. For more on this mode shift, read our Q&A .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and  its methodology ­­­.

A note on terminology: Our May-September 2023 survey was already in the field when Twitter changed its name to “X.” The terms  Twitter  and  X  are both used in this report to refer to the same platform.

Social media platforms faced a range of controversies in recent years, including concerns over misinformation and data privacy . Even so, U.S. adults use a wide range of sites and apps, especially YouTube and Facebook. And TikTok – which some Congress members previously called to ban – saw growth in its user base.

These findings come from a Pew Research Center survey of 5,733 U.S. adults conducted May 19-Sept. 5, 2023.

Which social media sites do Americans use most?

A horizontal bar chart showing that most U.S. adults use YouTube and Facebook; about half use Instagram.

YouTube by and large is the most widely used online platform measured in our survey. Roughly eight-in-ten U.S. adults (83%) report ever using the video-based platform.

While a somewhat lower share reports using it, Facebook is also a dominant player in the online landscape. Most Americans (68%) report using the social media platform.

Additionally, roughly half of U.S. adults (47%) say they use Instagram .

The other sites and apps asked about are not as widely used , but a fair portion of Americans still use them:

  • 27% to 35% of U.S. adults use Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
  • About one-in-five say they use Twitter (recently renamed “X”) and Reddit.  

This year is the first time we asked about BeReal, a photo-based platform launched in 2020. Just 3% of U.S. adults report using it.

Recent Center findings show that YouTube also dominates the social media landscape among U.S. teens .

TikTok sees growth since 2021

One platform – TikTok – stands out for growth of its user base. A third of U.S. adults (33%) say they use the video-based platform, up 12 percentage points from 2021 (21%).

A line chart showing that a third of U.S. adults say they use TikTok, up from 21% in 2021.

The other sites asked about had more modest or no growth over the past couple of years. For instance, while YouTube and Facebook dominate the social media landscape, the shares of adults who use these platforms has remained stable since 2021.

The Center has been tracking use of online platforms for many years. Recently, we shifted from gathering responses via telephone to the web and mail. Mode changes can affect study results in a number of ways, therefore we have to take a cautious approach when examining how things have – or have not – changed since our last study on these topics in 2021. For more details on this shift, please read our Q&A .

Stark age differences in who uses each app or site

Adults under 30 are far more likely than their older counterparts to use many of the online platforms. These findings are consistent with previous Center data .

A dot plot showing that the youngest U.S. adults are far more likely to use Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok; age differences are less pronounced for Facebook.

Age gaps are especially large for Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok – platforms that are used by majorities of adults under 30. For example:

  • 78% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram, far higher than the share among those 65 and older (15%).
  • 65% of U.S. adults under 30 report using Snapchat, compared with just 4% of the oldest age cohort.
  • 62% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use TikTok, much higher than the share among adults ages 65 years and older (10%).
  • Americans ages 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 fall somewhere in between for all three platforms.

YouTube and Facebook are the only two platforms that majorities of all age groups use. That said, there is still a large age gap between the youngest and oldest adults when it comes to use of YouTube. The age gap for Facebook, though, is much smaller.

Americans ages 30 to 49 stand out for using three of the platforms – LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Facebook – at higher rates. For instance, 40% of this age group uses LinkedIn, higher than the roughly three-in-ten among those ages 18 to 29 and 50 to 64. And just 12% of those 65 and older say the same. 

Overall, a large majority of the youngest adults use multiple sites and apps. About three-quarters of adults under 30 (74%) use at least five of the platforms asked about. This is far higher than the shares of those ages 30 to 49 (53%), 50 to 64 (30%), and ages 65 and older (8%) who say the same.  

Refer to our social media fact sheet for more detailed data by age for each site and app.

Other demographic differences in use of online platforms

A number of demographic differences emerge in who uses each platform. Some of these include the following:

  • Race and ethnicity: Roughly six-in-ten Hispanic (58%) and Asian (57%) adults report using Instagram, somewhat higher than the shares among Black (46%) and White (43%) adults. 1
  • Gender: Women are more likely than their male counterparts to say they use the platform.
  • Education: Those with some college education and those with a college degree report using it at somewhat higher rates than those who have a high school degree or less education.
  • Race and ethnicity: Hispanic adults are particularly likely to use TikTok, with 49% saying they use it, higher than Black adults (39%). Even smaller shares of Asian (29%) and White (28%) adults say the same.
  • Gender: Women use the platform at higher rates than men (40% vs. 25%).
  • Education: Americans with higher levels of formal education are especially likely to use LinkedIn. For instance, 53% of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree report using the platform, far higher than among those who have some college education (28%) and those who have a high school degree or less education (10%). This is the largest educational difference measured across any of the platforms asked about.

Twitter (renamed “X”)

  • Household income: Adults with higher household incomes use Twitter at somewhat higher rates. For instance, 29% of U.S. adults who have an annual household income of at least $100,000 say they use the platform. This compares with one-in-five among those with annual household incomes of $70,000 to $99,999, and around one-in-five among those with annual incomes of less than $30,000 and those between $30,000 and $69,999.
  • Gender: Women are far more likely to use Pinterest than men (50% vs. 19%).
  • Race and ethnicity: 54% of Hispanic adults and 51% of Asian adults report using WhatsApp. This compares with 31% of Black adults and even smaller shares of those who are White (20%).

A heat map showing how use of online platforms – such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok – differs among some U.S. demographic groups.

  • Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only. ↩

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Report Materials

Table of contents, q&a: how – and why – we’re changing the way we study tech adoption, americans’ use of mobile technology and home broadband, social media fact sheet, internet/broadband fact sheet, mobile fact sheet, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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New paths in climate change education: Drama as a key to change?

by Hendrik Schneider, Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.

New paths in climate change education: Drama as a key to change?

Given the pressing challenges of climate change, education is increasingly seen as a key to transformative adaptation to a changing environment. A study, conducted in collaboration between the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the University of Victoria (Canada), takes a closer look at an innovative approach: the use of drama in climate change education.

The study, published in the Journal of Adult and Continuing Education , explores the possibilities of dramatic expression as a tool to promote creative problem solving and social change in the context of climate change. The team of researchers evaluated a methodological framework in a workshop where participants explored the challenges of floods and droughts through theatrical staging and developed adaptive scenarios.

"Our research highlights the importance of dramaturgy as an effective teaching method to communicate not only the scientific aspects of climate change, but also the social, emotional and psychological dimensions," explains Juliano Borba, lead author of the study and researcher at ZALF.

The results of the study not only provide insights into the effectiveness of the dramatic approach in climate adaptation education, but also provide a pedagogical framework and theoretical basis for teachers, educators and educational institutions wishing to improve their approaches to climate education.

The study underlines the urgency of new educational approaches in the face of the increasing risks of climate change and shows how dramaturgy as a methodology to raise awareness, promote positive attitudes towards the future and develop concrete strategies to adapt to climate change . It is part of a series of studies on art-based methods for transformative research, a collaboration between the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the University of Victoria (Canada).

Provided by Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.

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Home  /  News  /  Research and Innovation  /  Otolaryngology

Miller School Researchers to Conduct Department of Defense-funded Hearing Loss Studies

The studies will use gene therapy and hypothermia to investigate ways to treat hearing loss due to loud noises and aging.

Two teams of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine otolaryngology researchers will use Department of Defense Hearing Restoration Research Program (HRRP) grants to study hearing loss.

Xuezhong Liu, M.D., Ph.D., the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Otolaryngology at the Miller School, has been named principal investigator for a three-year HRRP grant from the Department of Defense.

Dr. Xue Zhong Liu

The $1.54 million grant will fund a study led by Dr. Liu, also vice chairman of research for the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, that explores treatments for hearing damage prompted by loud noises and aging. Both can harm the neural synapses bridging sensory cells inside the ear and the auditory nerve that relays sound signals to the brain.

Dr. Liu’s team will investigate two novel approaches to correct genetic causes of hearing loss using genome editing. Their goal is to correct specific, hearing loss-associated mutations or silence the expression of specific genes that contribute to hearing loss.

To do so, they’ll use gene therapy in the form of an adeno-associated virus that augments hearing loss-associated genes needed for the inner ear’s hair cells to function. The study will evaluate the potential human applications of two complementary systems—mouse models with human hearing loss-associated genetic variants and human patient-derived stem cells differentiated into inner-ear organoids.

HRRP also awarded Suhrud Rajguru, Ph.D., a University of Miami professor of biomedical engineering and otolaryngology, a second $1.46 million grant to continue investigating novel applications of mild, therapeutic hypothermia to preserve hearing after hazardous noise and blast exposures.

Suhrud Rajguru Ph.D.

Dr. Rajguru’s group, including collaborators Michael Hoffer, M.D., a Miller School professor of otolaryngology and neurological surgery, and Hillary Snapp, Ph.D., Au.D., chief of the Divisioin of Audiology and associate professor of clinical otolaryngology at the Miller School, has shown that local, non-invasive hypothermia therapy delivered to the inner ear protects sensitive neural structures and hearing after noise exposure.

The investigators will expand the safety and efficacy of this approach to noises members of the armed services commonly confront.

“We’re pleased that the Department of Defense and scientific community have validated the importance of the University of Miami’s hearing research program and the research we’re conducting,” said Fred Telischi, M.D., James R. Chandler Chair in Otolaryngology and professor of neurological surgery and biomedical engineering at the Miller School. “The new grants will enable scientists and clinicians to translate basic research findings into clinical tools and develop novel treatments for hearing loss.”

Tags: Department of Otolaryngology , Dr. Suhrud Rajguru , gene therapy , hearing loss , otolaryngology , Xuezhong Liu

Gene Therapy Treats Genetic Hearing Loss in Aged Mouse Model

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Miller School Hearing Specialists Present Leading-Edge Research on How Sound Moves Through the Inner Ear

Audiologist Hillary Snapp, Au.D., Ph.D., served as co-president and co-chair at OSSEO 2023. Hearing specialists […]

Surgeon-Scientist Receives $3.2 Million NIH Grant to Continue Program for Hearing Loss Research

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology has received a new […]

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action research studies conducted by teachers


  1. (PDF) How School Teachers Can Benefit from Action Research: A case study

    action research studies conducted by teachers

  2. Framework for Teacher Action Research on Classroom Technologies and

    action research studies conducted by teachers

  3. Teachers as researchers: 6 ways to encourage action research

    action research studies conducted by teachers

  4. (PDF) Action research in teacher education

    action research studies conducted by teachers

  5. (PDF) An Analysis of Action Research Studies Conducted by Teachers in

    action research studies conducted by teachers

  6. Action Research Proposal

    action research studies conducted by teachers



  2. Class 1 on Action Research

  3. Action research file for Deled 2nd year students


  5. How to design action research?

  6. Action Research.. B. ED 4th semester


  1. PDF Action Research in Teacher Education: Classroom Inquiry, Reflection

    The data revealed action research impacted literacy instruction, teachers struggled with how to make their literacy instruction explicit, projects focused on specific literacy topics, teachers used a range of resources for their selected intervention and shared information with each other and with colleagues in their respective contexts.

  2. 1 What is Action Research for Classroom Teachers?

    What is Action Research for Classroom Teachers? - Action Research 1 What is Action Research for Classroom Teachers? ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS What is the nature of action research? How does action research develop in the classroom? What models of action research work best for your classroom?

  3. How Teachers Can Use Action Research for Professional Learning

    How Teachers Can Use Action Research for Professional Learning | Edutopia Teacher Collaboration How Teachers Can Learn Through Action Research A look at one school's action research project provides a blueprint for using this model of collaborative teacher learning. By Suzie Boss January 21, 2020 Norma Jean Gargasz / Alamy Stock Photo

  4. PDF Action Research: A Tool for Improving Teacher Quality and ...

    Action research is a tool that is used to help teachers and other educators uncover strategies to improve teaching practices (Sagor, 2004), thus, it is a viable and realistic endeavor for all educators. Action research requires teachers to design a study in an area of interest that they would like to carry out in their classrooms or schools.

  5. PDF Conducting Teacher Action Research

    Passion is integral to doing action research and can be a resource for identifying a research question, as indicated by Dana and Yendol-Hoppey (2008, pp. 15-48). After analyzing more than 100 teacher class-room research studies, they identified eight passions as possibilities for finding a research question: 1.

  6. Action Research and Systematic, Intentional Change in Teaching Practice

    By situating teachers as learners, action research offers a systematic and intentional approach to changing teaching. When working as part of a community of practice, action researchers engage in sustained professional learning activities. They explore issues of everyday practice and work to bring about change.

  7. Teachers' action research as a case of social learning: exploring

    Teachers' action research as a case of social learning: exploring learning in between research and school practice Peter Johannesson a Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden [email protected] https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3150-758X &

  8. Action Research in Education: Addressing Gaps in Ethical ...

    Action Research as a Method of Inquiry Mills (2003) defined action research' as any systematic inquiry conducted by teachers, administrators, counselors, or others with a vested interest in the teaching and learning process, for the purpose of gathering data about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how students learn ...

  9. PDF Teacher Tales of Action Research: Trials and Triumphs

    Cross-Case Analysis. From a cross-case analysis of these studies of individual teachers, five themes emerged: 1) time challenges and mediating factors, 2) collaboration and support, 3) open-endedness of action research, 4) long-term implications, and 5) motivation and rewards of an external project or degree requirement.

  10. Empowering Current and Future Educators: Using a Scalable Action

    Relatedly, few studies have investigated the response of both pre-service and beginning teachers to action research, with most work in the field focusing on training more senior teachers in action research methodologies (Holm et al., 1999; Ginns et al., 2001; Carboni et al., 2007). Therefore, the goals of the research described in this article ...

  11. An Action Research on Improving Classroom Communication and ...

    An Action Research on Improving Classroom Communication and Interaction in Social Studies Teaching The aim of this research is to reveal how communication and interaction in classrooms can be enhanced with the communicative approach education provided for social studies teachers.

  12. Action Research as an Inquiry-Based Teaching Practice Model for Teacher

    Although the role of action research is critically highlighted in research, it is not widely used by teachers in most schools. It may also be that our teacher education does not equip us with the necessary confidence to conduct much inquiry ourselves. This study aimed to investigate the experiences of early childhood preservice teachers.

  13. 21 Action Research Examples (In Education) (2024)

    There are several steps in action research: identify a problem, design a plan to resolve, implement the plan, evaluate effectiveness, reflect on results, make necessary adjustment and repeat the process. Contents show Action Research Examples

  14. The Potential of Teacher-Led Research: Teachers' Action Research

    This dearth of published work belies the wide use of varied teacher-led research in Singaporean schools as many studies have been conducted over extended periods of time that encompass a wide range of topics. ... establishing theoretical bases in teachers' action research goals while helping the researchers have more direct views of research ...

  15. How School Teachers Can Benefit from Action Research: A Case Study

    The action research movement in education began in America in 1940s, according to Koshy (2005). In 1946 Kurt Lewin, an American social psychologist, (the founder of action research) conducted a study following action research model. In 1967-72 John Hopkins used action research for curriculum development process at United Kingdom (UK) and in

  16. How Action Research Can Improve Your Teaching

    Action research is a meaningful way for a teacher to find out why students perform the way they do. The term, "action research," was coined in 1933 by Kurt Lewin to describe a scenario in which a researcher and participants collaborate to solve a specific problem. Donald Schön developed this idea further with the term, "reflective ...

  17. (PDF) Action Research in Education; Theory and Practice

    Action research in education is defined as systematic inquiry conducted by teachers or other educational stakeholders in the teaching and learning environment. It is also known as 'practitioner ...

  18. (PDF) Action Research: A Tool for Improving Teacher Quality and

    Action research (AR) is a practical and iterative research methodology and tool used by educators to conduct research in classrooms to identify strategies to examine, and ultimately...

  19. PDF Teacher Action Research in Elementary Social Studies: Use of iPads in

    Teacher action research presents an opportunity to support teachers' understanding of social studies instruction. We assert that engaging elementary teachers in social studies-focused action research can encourage teachers to enhance social studies in their classrooms.

  20. (PDF) Action research in the field of education, a strategy for

    Stenhouse (1983) believed that teachers could take responsibili- ty for themselves and their actions, thus by adopting a research posture, they were able to emancipate themselves from the...

  21. What Is Action Research?

    Methodology What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples What Is Action Research? | Definition & Examples Published on January 27, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on January 12, 2024. Action research is a research method that aims to simultaneously investigate and solve an issue.

  22. Action Research

    (Lewin, 1947) Action research is a process by which practitioners attempt to study their problems scientifically in order to guide, correct, and evaluate their decisions and action. (Corey, 1953). Action research in education is study conducted by colleagues in a school setting of the results of their activities to improve instruction.

  23. Action Research Proposal Draft 660 (docx)

    5 - Schedule a presentation or meeting to share the results with teachers, parents, and school administration - Seek feedback and suggestions for future implementation and improvement Ethical Considerations: Informed Consent and Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval "All research studies involve ethical considerations. Therefore, all researchers must be aware of and attend to the ethical ...

  24. PDF Action Research Skills Among Public School Teachers: A Cross-Cultural Study

    The results of the study showed that previously conducted action research played an important role in ... Specifically, involvement in action research helps teachers to become more aware of student learning, classroom complexity, and their own agency as teachers. Action research is an effective research

  25. How Americans Use Social Media

    To better understand Americans' social media use, Pew Research Center surveyed 5,733 U.S. adults from May 19 to Sept. 5, 2023. Ipsos conducted this National Public Opinion Reference Survey (NPORS) for the Center using address-based sampling and a multimode protocol that included both web and mail.

  26. New paths in climate change education: Drama as a key to change?

    A study, conducted in collaboration between the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the University of Victoria (Canada), takes a closer look at an innovative approach ...

  27. Miller School Researchers to Conduct Department of Defense-funded

    The $1.54 million grant will fund a study led by Dr. Liu, also vice chairman of research for the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, that explores treatments for hearing damage prompted by loud noises and aging. Both can harm the neural synapses bridging sensory cells inside the ear and the auditory nerve that relays sound signals to the brain.