Classroom Action Research is a method of finding out what works best in your own classroom so that you can improve student learning. There are many ways to improve knowledge about teaching. Many teachers practice personal reflection on teaching, others conduct formal empirical studies on teaching and learning. Classroom Action Research is more systematic than personal reflection but it is more informal and personal than formal educational research.
The goal of Classroom Action Research is to improve your own teaching in your own classroom, department, or school. While there is no requirement that the findings be generalized to other situations the results can add to knowledge base. Classroom Action Research goes beyond personal reflection to use informal research practices such as a brief literature review, group comparisons, and data collection and analysis. Validity is achieved through the triangulation of data. The focus is on the practical significance of findings, rather than statistical or theoretical significance.
Findings are usually disseminated through brief reports or presentations to local colleagues or administrators.
Steps to conduct Classroom Action Research
· Identify a question or problem:
o What is the effect of X on student learning?
o The question or problem should look at something under the teaching control.
o The problem should also be an area which you are willing to change.
o It should also be feasible.
· Review Literature
o You need to gather two types of information: background and data.
o It may be much less extensive than traditional research.
o The use of secondary sources is usually sufficient.
· Plan a research strategy
o It may take many forms: pretest, posttest, a comparison of similar classes to a descriptive case study of a single class or student.
o Both qualitative and quantitative methods are appropriate.
o It relies on triangulation of data to provide validity.
o To triangulate collect at least three types of data, e.g., student test scores, teacher evaluations, and observation of student behavior). If all data point to the same direction, you have some assurance of validity.
· Gather data
· Make sense of the data
o Analyze your data, looking for findings with practical significance.
· Take action
o Use your findings to make decisions about your teaching strategies.
· Share your findings
o There are many ways to share findings with your peers: journals, conferences, workshops, teaching tips, websites, newsletters, etc.
Adapted by Julian Hermida from Gwyn Mettetal, “The What, Why and How of Classroom Action Research”, JoSoTL Vol. 2, Number 1 (2001).