A classic model of teacher development involves learning about the latest ideas on our practice, and applying them to our classrooms.
Action Research takes the opposite approach. In this process we find out what happens in our own classrooms so that we can understand them better and so make better-informed teaching decisions. In other words, the teacher carries out the research, and if necessary as a result of what they find out, identifies possible strategies to engage with the reality.
It is different from scientific research. It doesn’t try to come to universally applicable conclusions or models of action. If you conduct an action research project, you know from the outset that you’re only looking at your own specific classroom. Any actions you take as a result are appropriate only to that classroom. Of course, it’s useful to share your experiences with your colleagues but this is more to give them ideas to explore their own classes rather than recommending particular courses of action.
Here is a five-stage model for a simple action research project.
- Finding the focus
First you need to identify the question you want to answer.
- Try not to be too general. For example, the question ‘how can I improve my students motivation?’ could have many different answers. But don’t be too narrow in your focus. If your question is ‘which students like reading activities?’ then the research will be quite short, and what you’ll be able to do with the information will be very limited