My understanding of the requirements for the final project
For this article, I will be looking into developing an Action Research Project. What is an Action Research? At first, I didn’t fully understand what an Action Research exactly entails or its purpose. Through my reading, I was required to explore what it involves. Richard Sagor (2000) describes this as “a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions”. In a presentation by Rigsby (2005), he cites four individuals for how an Action Research has been defined an adapted over the years in relation to education. Carl Glickman (1992) defines Action Research as “a study conducted by colleagues in a school setting of the results of their activities to improve their instruction” (Rigsby, 2005). I particularly enjoyed his citation of Emily Calhoun (1994), as she simplifies the term as “a fancy way of saying let’s study what’s happening at our school and decide how to make it a better place” (Rigsby, 2005).
Based on the definitions given, I find it interesting on what an Action Research involves. In relation to education, an “Action Research (AR) attempts to provide some insight into how students learn. AR encourages faculty members and professionals to use their classrooms, offices and libraries as laboratories for the study of learning” (Valencia College, 2016).
I am interested in observing what this project can influence in the future of my schooling. I hope to deepen my understanding of students in Middle School which will in allow myself to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in my future instruction.
Summarising Action Research
Sagor (2000) states how this research is “engaged in by a single teacher, by a group of colleagues who share an interest in a common problem, or by the entire faculty of a school.” He mentions how there are seven steps in the “endless cycle for the inquiring teacher” (Sagor, 2000). They include;
- Selecting a focus
- Clarifying Theories
- Identifying research questions
- Collecting data
- Analyzing data
- Reporting results
- Taking informed action
Ideas for an Action Research proposal
The demographic for Thailand is growing, advancing and changing. With more official and unofficial international schools being established, Thailand is aiming to accommodate and give opportunities for all diverse students. However, if the parents or the child desires to be global or international, they will seek accreditation such as the IB (International Baccalaureate) or the CIE (Cambridge International Examination) etc. I currently teach ELL Science in a Private Government Bilingual School where it does not offer either of the international accreditations. As a result, the tuition fees are less in comparison. A majority of our students enrol their child at an early age into our school so they can develop their comprehension in Thai and English. However, their attainment of the language is heavily based on rote learning (based on memory and repeating). Although most students can remember the English vocabulary very well, they don’t comprehend them or know how to apply them. As a result, once the “High Stakes” tests are complete, the contents of what the students have learnt are easily forgotten.
As educators, I believe we need to ensure all of our students are keeping up with the national standards as well as the standards which have been set by other leading countries. I’ve noticed how being in the 21st Century when someone has a lack of knowledge of something they seek it via digitally. Such as “googling” it or searching on YouTube etc. I have faith on how this will be a good foundation for inquiry-based education in Science.
The students in my Private Government Bilingual have not made these connections yet. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very traditional style of learning.
Inquiry-based learning is not just about asking the student wants to know, it’s about engaging their interest in curiosity. Wolpert-Gawron (2016) states, it’s about “activating a student’s curiosity, [and] I would argue, a far more important and complex goal than the objective of mere information delivery.”
The study of science, after all is based on the concept of asking questions and understanding why it works or doesn’t work. Therefore, I have faith on how this will lead to a student centred classroom and the students will be able to apply their English language skills in a better practical setting. As a result, I hope to improve their use of English as well as other 21st Century skills such as, problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborating. As an effect of this, these skills can be applied in other classes to benefit the students learning experience.
Along with the TEACH-NOW masters course which I am currently undergoing, they gave some expectations for what can be included in my project report.
- Introduction and Statement of Problem or Question
- Literature Review
- Proposed Methodology
- Analysis of Results
- Summary and Consideration of Next Steps (Action Plan)
- Appendices, if Needed
Requirements and Challenges
Wolpert-Gawron (2016) explains how there are 4 steps required for inquiry-based learning;
- Students develop questions that they are hungry to answer.
- Research the topic using time in class.
- Have students present what they’ve learned.
- Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn’t.
One of the challenges will be to engage the student’s curiosity, “to bring that love of “whaaa?!” into your own classroom” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2016). In school, there is also limited access to computers and the internet. In the past for some classes, I was able to request permission from the school to permit the students to use their mobile phones as a digital tool in the classroom. I would have to take the time to set up the procedures, however, another obstacle is not all students have mobile data to access the internet. Therefore, the challenges will be for students to research at home. Ideally, the research should be done in the class where the teacher is available to guide and mentor the students. I’m not sure as of yet what modifications I could apply to facilitate the research step.
The students are used to presenting in my class through various differentiated methods, whether they create a video presentation, PowerPoint slides, feature board, skit etc.
Here are some past examples;
Grade 8 ELL Science 2016
Grade 9 ELL Science 2016
Overall, I think this is a great opportunity also for the students to improve their English writing/speaking for their reflection. The students are not used to self-reflecting in the classroom. Thus, sometimes they may find this it difficult to do so even in in their second language (English). As all my students are ELL students, they face language difficulties in every subject. Wolpert-Gawron (2016) says one would have to get the students “Thinking about how they learned not just what they learned.”
Another concern I have is being able to find suitable literature which will fit the project I am researching. I often feel there is a vast amount of data or information readily available but it’s a challenge to sieve through what is necessary. Time management for reading the literature will also be a challenge among the other duties I will have to uphold while teaching. Although I am very excited about the opportunity to conduct such a project and to be included in something which can benefit my students learning, I am wary of the obstacles and challenges which lie ahead.
Padak, N. P. (2017, June 19th). Research to Practice: Guidelines for Planning Action Research Projects. Retrieved July 2017, from Ohio Literacy Resource Center: http://literacy.kent.edu/Oasis/Pubs/0200-08.htm
Rigsby, L. (2005, March). Action Research: How is it defined? Retrieved July 2017, from gmu.edu: http://gse.gmu.edu/assets/media/tr/ARRigsbyppt.htm
Sagor, R. (2000, May). Guiding School Improvement with Action Research. Retrieved July 2017, from Chapter 1. What Is Action Research?: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research%C2%A2.aspx
TEACH-NOW. (2017). Guidelines and Rubric: Final Project. Retrieved July 2017, from TEACH-NOW portal: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HENDXgi7azEuAJiwYTWzdhE07p9jRnYHL6nDwg5N_Oo/edit
Valencia College. (2016, August 16th). The purpose of Action Research Action Research: A Definition. Retrieved July 2017, from https://valenciacollege.edu/faculty/development/tla/actionResearch/ARP_softchalk/
Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016, August 11th). What the Heck Is Inquiry-Based Learning? Retrieved July 2017, from edutopia.org: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-inquiry-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron