M12 U4 A3 – Action Research Project Blog Post
Action Research Project
There are several qualities that separate good teachers from the best teachers, and being a lifelong learner is one of those qualities. A teacher who learns with their students is one who will shape their educational practices to meet the needs of those students. A teacher who seeks to do that needs to understand how to study a situation and take appropriate, well-researched action. By following the steps of an action research project, a teacher can focus their research on a particular problem in the classroom and ensure that their solutions will be as effective as possible.
An action research project is a project in which a teacher identifies a problem and takes steps to scientifically solve that problem through study and research. First, the teacher will assess the problem by examining their classroom situation and identifying something they’d like to change. This can be anything from working with a particular student to working with parents. Next, the teacher will implement theoretical solutions to the problem. They will consider evidences that would support the success of their solution before they begin implementing it. So, for example, if they were focusing on a particular student’s number sense, they might choose to focus on a student’s math facts, and the evidence of their success might be an increase in that student’s success in math facts by a certain percentage point. Teachers will record their results and study them to identify the correlations between their actions and the students’ success or failure. Next, teachers will rethink their ideas and plan their next steps. Finally, the teachers will take action based upon the results of their study.
The Teach-Now program has certain requirements for the final action research project in their Master’s Degree programs. Since I am in the Globalization in Education track, I must choose a topic related to globalization or international education. My work must be original, and it must focus on a topic related to my school and its educational practices. In this way, I can learn how action research can be applied to my teaching practices and specific situation.
I teach in an American charter school that seeks to prepare culturally diverse low-income students for college. Since immigration greatly affects the mindset of my families and their success in school, I want to center my project around applying Ogbu’s theory of voluntary and involuntary immigrant groups. These mindsets greatly affect a student and their family’s willingness to trust a teacher and the school, and their willingness to be successful in education. By addressing these concerns, a teacher should be able to help these families change their mindset about education.
My plan is to work on implementing strategies to build trust between immigrant families and the school. We have an extremely high diversity rate, so it’s directly applicable to my situation, and I’ve seen how Ogbu’s theory connects to my students and their families.
My proposal would have two steps:
- Identify and implement strategies to promote trust between parent and teacher. (Sending post-cards before school starts, making positive phone calls home, etc.)
- Identify and implement strategies to promote community within the classroom. (Morning meetings, community circles, trust building exercises, and collaboration as means to teach students to respect diversity of thought and culture.)
My hope is to show that by purposefully engaging the group mentalities that shape a family’s expectations of the school system, a teacher can improve a child’s desire for success and their actual academic success.
Currently I think the biggest problems I will have is finding ways in which I can measure the success of these endeavors. Since I will be starting this project at the beginning of the school year, it will be difficult to measure academic success of the students. I will also struggle with identifying change in relationships with families and students, since this is a new class that I have not yet taught. I believe there will be plenty of research on the topic, and I work in a school that has worked on solving this problem for the last 15 years, so I have many experts at my disposal to seek help from.
Two of my biggest struggles this last school year was in parent communication and classroom management. My great hope is that this will shape my ability to serve these communities in a more effective manner.
Guidelines and Rubric for Module 14 Final Project. Teach-Now Program. https://wordpress.com/post/kendallconnolly.wordpress.com/84
Rigsby, Leo. Action Research: How Is It Defined? George Mason University. PowerPoint. 2015. http://gse.gmu.edu/assets/media/tr/ARRigsbyppt.htm
Ogbu, John. Simons, Herbert. Voluntary and Involuntary Minorities: A Cultural-Ecological Theory of School Performance with Some Implications for Education. International Journal of Multicultural Education. 2012.