Phase I - Problem Identification:

Phase I Image.jpg
  • Is the problem stated clearly and in the form of a question? Is it broad enough to allow for a range of insights and findings? Is it narrow enough to be manageable within your time frame and your daily work?
  • Why do you want to do it? Is it an important and practical problem, something worth your time and effort, something that could be beneficial to you, your students and others?

Activities:

Values Search


We all live by core values. Some of these are more personal and others are shared in our professional workplace. When looking for a way to get started with action research, many find it helpful for think through your most important values.

In your Action Research Notebook respond to the following questions:
  • What drives you?
  • What challenges you?
  • What keeps you up at night or appears as the most important issues when you think about going to work?
  • What are you deeply curious about?
  • How would you like to change?
  • What are the changes that you would be most proud of?
  • If you could be more of an expert in one area, what would that area be and why?

What Drives You!


Values Core


Make a list of 10 values that are important to you. Combine or rank order until you have five values. See if you can find the one to three that you think are most important and then think of a personal story that shows why these values are important to you, how you have lived them in the past, or sets the stage for how you want to live them in the future.


5 Whys of a Problem

Dig deeper into a problem to make sure you have identified the real cause.


Prompts for Questions


  • I would like to improve...
  • I am perplexed by...
  • I am really curious about...
  • I want to learn more about...
  • An idea I would like to try out is...
  • Something I really think would make a difference is...
  • Something I would really like to change is...
  • What happens to student learning in my classroom when...?
  • How can I implement...?
  • How can I improve...?

List a few possible questions or challenges that you want to explore...
Then I want you to transform your values into questions. For example, if you value equity, your questions might be:
How do I create a classroom climate where all students are able to learn in ways that engage them? Or if a core value was creative problem solving, you might ask: How can create an a workplace culture where people find and solve problems without being told to do this? If social justice was the value, you might want to think about what could be done to reduce the rate of recidivism among prisoners.


Forming a Research Question


Write down your concern/problem in the form of a research question. State what you’ll expect to see if the plan works as a research question.

For example:
  • If I change my instruction like this .................will students?
  • If I change my teaching to do this .................will students do?
  • If I try this.....................then will children show/demonstrate improvements on the concern/problem?



Examples of Action Research Questions
  • What happens to the quality of student writing when we implement a coding system of grammar errors?
  • What happens to my students' ability to do basic multiplication facts when we do a two minute review drill at the start of each class?
  • How does teaching about gender inequalities affect the perceptions of students towards gender constructs in our society?
  • How can I help the students in my classroom feel comfortable working with diverse groupings of classmates and overcome, at least part of the time, their desire to always be their friends?
  • How can I more effectively facilitate independent writing in my kindergarten classroom?
  • How can fifth grade students be encouraged to write thoughtful inquiry questions for a science fair?
  • What kinds of assessments best help me understand and teach a particular learner with autism?
  • What changes in our teaching styles, curriculum design, materials and professional support are needed to implement a new math program in our inclusive classroom?
  • How does the direct teaching of anger management skills affect the classroom climate in primary-age school children?
  • What classroom strategies are effective in developing student self-evaluation of their learning?


List a few possible questions or challenges that you want to explore...
Then I want you to transform your values into questions. For example, if you value equity, your questions might be:
How do I create a classroom climate where all students are able to learn in ways that engage them? Or if a core value was creative problem solving, you might ask: How can create an a workplace culture where people find and solve problems without being told to do this? If social justice was the value, you might want to think about what could be done to reduce the rate of recidivism among prisoners



Action Research Reports:

Reading Action Research projects will help you develop your understanding of action research. You are looking for what was the overarching goal of this action research. As you read, ask yourself what was the the challenge or overall research question. This question is what prompts the action and helps provide direction through the iterative cycles of change.
Read/Listen/Explore Teacher's Action Research Projects


Guidelines for Developing a Question


  1. One that hasn't already been answered
  2. Higher level questions which get at explanations, reasons, relationships. "How does...?", "What happens when...?"
  3. Not "Yes-No" question
  4. Everyday language; avoid jargon
  5. Not too lengthy; concise; doesn't have to include everything you're thinking
  6. Something manageable; can complete it
  7. Something do-able (in the context of your work)
  8. "Follow your bliss"; want to feel commitment to the question; passion
  9. Keep it close to your own practice; the further away you go, the more work it is
  10. Should have tension; provides you an opportunity to stretch
  11. Meaningful to you; provides you a deeper understanding of the topic
  12. Question leads to other questions