September 14, 2013 by Barbra & Jack Donachy
It’s all about the students! Action research is one element in figuring out how we can reach and best teach the kids in our classrooms.
A new class begins timed with the beginning of a new school year. This semester will have the focus of collaborative classroom research. As I delve into the world of classroom research, I ask myself, “What is action research?” An article in the Kappa Delta Pi Record was a good start as it addressed this question along with an additional question, “why is action research needed?” Action research bridges the gap between university studies and the K-12 classroom. Action research provides a mode to conduct research in the classroom in order to solve classroom-based problems and issues. Reflection by the teacher is a key component in the traditional cycle of research which includes problem formulation, data collection, data analysis, reporting results, and action planning. This type of research is needed to meet the needs of practitioners who are working directly with students.
Looking ahead in collaborative classroom research, I need to begin contemplating what question I would like to research. My first inclination was to look at a research question that studied issues outside my classroom. I wanted to look at something systemic in my school or district. Eventually, I would like to create trainings or programs for schools or districts to help them seamlessly integrate technology into students’ learnings. As I discussed this with people in my professional learning network, I came to the conclusion that most changes that would make a difference in my district that I could study are far out of my control.
Obstacles such as turnover rate and the lack of support in my district make systemic changes or studying potential changes problematic. “… in order for teachers to transform knowledge and practices they must be involved in a culture of inquiry that respects their voices and gives teachers control of the research process. He also found that collaboration must occur in a supportive context that challenges members intellectually and is invested over long periods of time.” These elements addressed in the article “Teachers as Architects of Transformation: The Change Process of an Elementary-School Teacher in a Practitioner Research Group” in the Winter 2012 edition of Teacher’s Education Quarterly are currently missing on the North Slope.
Back to square one.
I am intrigued with the new Alaska standards and how technology is integrated into these standards. Another direction to go with collaborative research could be tied to the new standards.
In a paper done by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory in 2000, the authors looked at evaluating the effectiveness of technology. It was interesting to look at issues plaguing the integration of technology in 2000 and see how far education has not come in the last thirteen years. With the huge influence of high stakes testing, assessment has been continually tied to academic areas with complete disregard for technology. It’s only now with the integration of technology expectations into the standards, that I anticipate we will have movement toward assessing technological competency in education.
I will spend some more time looking at the new standards and brainstorming how I can create a research project which will address the new standards and technology.
I have to admit, I feel stumped right now.