Action Research Flashcard

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action research
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In your definition you should highlight the purpose of action research as a systematic inquiry to gather information about how your particular school operates, how you teach, and how well students learn Information is gathered with the goals of gaining insight, developing reflective practice, affecting positive changes in the school environment, and improving student outcomes. The action research process is similar to the reflective process good teachers do every day as they systematically reflect upon their daily practices and how it affected their students’ learning outcomes.
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Describe how action research will help you to address the questions you have about your teaching practices and your students’ learning outcomes.
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In your response you should make connections to the key tenets for practical action research. When teachers gain new understandings about both their own and their students’ behaviors through action research, they are empowered to make informed decisions about their practices, link prior knowledge to new knowledge, learn from experience, and ask questions and find answers systematically
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Using the above situation from question number 2, apply the four-step process to conducting action research to design a project that will assist you in answering your inquiries about literacy skills and students’ learning. Briefly describe what you would do in each of the four steps of the action research process.
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Reconnaissance or preliminary information gathering means reflecting on your own beliefs and to understand the nature and context of your general idea. The process of reconnaissance takes on three forms: self-reflection, description, and explanation. Reconnaissance activities help teacher researchers clarify what they already know and what they want to address in their action research study.
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The purpose of this study is to….”
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n your response you should include: 1) the key sources that you will use to locate literature [i.e., types of journals, online sources], 2) the process in which you refine your area of focus by identifying key words, 3) how you will access literature found (i.e., go to local university library, access full-text online resources), and 4) criteria for evaluating your source based on trustworthiness, current findings, and objectivity.
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An action research plan summarizes your action research thoughts in a plan that will guide you through your action research work and includes the following nine steps: Write an area of focus statement. Define the variables. Develop research questions. Describe the intervention or innovations. Describe the membership of the action research group. Describe negotiations that need to be undertaken. Develop a time line. Develop a statement of resources. Develop data collection ideas.
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1. Identify three considerations when collecting data via interviews. What data collection considerations need to be addressed in order to effectively conduct interviews?
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When conducting interviews, data collection considerations include the types of interview questions and recording devices, and format of the interview. It is important to include both divergent and convergent interview questions to elicit a variety of information. Piloting your questions with colleagues prior to conducting interviews will better ensure that questions are clear and elicit the information you hope to gather. Be sure to test out recording equipment prior to the interview and have a backup system for malfunctions. Identifying a place to conduct the interview in which the interviewee feels comfortable and which is also quiet for tape recording purposes is an important consideration for effectively gathering data.
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Identify three considerations when collecting data via interviews. What data collection considerations need to be addressed in order to effectively conduct interviews? Define the concept “validity” as it applies to action research.
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Maxwell (1992) has adopted a stance more consistent with that of Wolcott (1990)—that “understanding” is a more fundamental concept for qualitative research than validity. Action research data that are factual and not distorted by the researcher’s perspective is key to this understanding. The Key Concept Box 4-1 provides Guba’s criteria for validity of qualitative research, along with definitions and strategies for addressing each of the criteria.
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Using the above case study, identify three types of data that assisted Mr. Rockford to understand how keyboarding instruction enhances his students’ ability to use word processing, database, spreadsheet, and draw functions. Describe how they were used in this action research study to answer the research questions.
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The decision about what data are collected for an action research study is largely determined by the nature of the problem. The teacher researcher must determine what data will contribute to their understanding and resolution of a given problem. Participant observations are conducted with two purposes in mind: to observe the activities, people, and physical aspects of a situation; and to engage in activities that are appropriate to a given situation that will provide useful information. Questionnaires allow the teacher researcher to collect large amounts of data in a relatively short time. Teacher-made tests are used to monitor student learning and to adjust instruction.
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Develop three open-ended questions and three closed questions. For each question, write one to two sentences describing how the question assists in answering the research question “How does keyboarding instruction enhance students’ ability to use word processing, database, spreadsheet, and draw functions?”
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A second major category of data collection techniques can be grouped as data that are collected by the teacher through asking questions. Using a structured interview format allows the teacher to ask all the participants the same series of questions. A major challenge in constructing any interview is to phrase questions in such a way that they elicit the information you really want. Use questions that vary from convergent (closed) to divergent (open). Closed questions allow only a brief response, such as yes/no. Alternately, an open-ended question can lead to other information being elicited and does not lead to one specific response.
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The decision about what data are collected for an action research study is largely determined by the nature of the problem. The teacher researcher must determine what data will contribute to their understanding and resolution of a given problem. Participant observations are conducted with two purposes in mind: to observe the activities, people, and physical aspects of a situation; and to engage in activities that are appropriate to a given situation that will provide useful information. Questionnaires allow the teacher researcher to collect large amounts of data in a relatively short time. Teacher-made tests are used to monitor student learning and to adjust instruction.
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Why are qualitative methods better suited for conducting action research?
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Action research seeks to answer the question: “What is going on here?” It is not a mysterious quest, but is quite simply an effort to collect data that increase our understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. Qualitative methods allow the teacher researcher to gather data that are descriptive and provide multiple perspectives of the phenomenon.
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Ethical considerations are included in all research studies. Researchers must be aware of and attend to the ethical considerations related to their studies. The ends do not justify the means, and researchers must not put their need to carry out their study above their responsibility to maintain the well-being of the study’s participants. In the case study, “The Use of Technology to Enhance Mathematics Achievement,” reporting results that suggested certain teachers were ineffective in the classroom created an ethical dilemma for the research team. How could they present the data to inform the school without embarrassing certain teachers? Strategies that include working individually with teachers on their teaching practices would eliminate making this information public. Creating opportunities for teachers to self-evaluate their technology skills and teaching practices may also allow teachers to self-identify for professional development opportunities.
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Describe how the preservice teacher in the chapter 4 case study addressed issues of validity in her action research study to improve student understanding and motivation of multiplication facts. How did Alyson Marland determine if her intervention was effective? Your Answer:
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Validity refers to the degree in which the data accurately represent what they purport to measure. Historically, validity has been based on qualitative-based research and has referred to how well the researcher has demonstrated the results are “right” or “accurate.” In action research, which tends to be more qualitative, the issue of validity refers to issues of “trustworthiness” and/or provides “understanding” to the situation. In other words, validity is whether the solution to a problem actually solves the problem. In Alyson Marland’s action research study she addressed validity through triangulation, comparing a variety of data sources (student test scores, student interviews, student work samples) with one another to cross-check data.
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Define reliability in your own words as it relates to action research. Describe how Alyson Marland’s action research study does or does not address issues of reliability
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Reliability means dependability or trustworthiness. It is the degree to which a test consistently measures whatever it measures. The more reliable a test is, the more confidence one has that the scores obtained are essentially the same scores that would be obtained if the test were re-administered. For action research this means considering whether the data were collected using the same method and if the results would be consistent over time. For Alyson’s study, the issue of reliability needed to be tested over time, particularly the teacher-made test and interview questions designed for this short study.
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In the chapter 5 case study, describe the ethical issue the action researchers faced in their study. Define why the study’s results created an ethical dilemma for the action research team and describe another way they could have resolved it.
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Ethical considerations are included in all research studies. Researchers must be aware of and attend to the ethical considerations related to their studies. The ends do not justify the means, and researchers must not put their need to carry out their study above their responsibility to maintain the well-being of the study’s participants. In the case study, “The Use of Technology to Enhance Mathematics Achievement,” reporting results that suggested certain teachers were ineffective in the classroom created an ethical dilemma for the research team. How could they present the data to inform the school without embarrassing certain teachers? Strategies that include working individually with teachers on their teaching practices would eliminate making this information public. Creating opportunities for teachers to self-evaluate their technology skills and teaching practices may also allow teachers to self-identify for professional development opportunities.
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he purpose of data analysis is to answer the question, “How am I going to make sense of this data?” Using the Highland Park case study, briefly describe how you will analyze the data collected from student interviews. Identify a minimum of three steps.
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It is important to totally immerse yourself in the data. This means reading and re-reading your transcripts multiple times. Get to know intimately the data you have collected. Struggle with the nuances and caveats, the subtleties, the persuasive, and the incomplete. Avoid premature judgments and actions by remaining focused on the ultimate goal of improving the lives of your students. The following are guideposts for analyzing data: Identify themes, develop a coding scheme, code the data, and finally sort the data by themes (or codes). Identify themes from the data that will help answer the research question(s).
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Data interpretation involves answering the question, “So what?” Using the Highland Park case study, describe how the researchers used the following two data interpretation techniques: 1) connect findings with personal experience, and 2) seek the advice of critical friends.
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Connecting the data with personal experiences is appropriate because action research is about the teacher researcher’s personal teaching practices. The teacher researcher knows the study better than anyone else. Interpretations are based on intimate knowledge and understandings of one’s school, classroom, teaching, and learning. The Highland Park teachers used their prior knowledge of the school’s grading system, their students, and their personal grading practices to interpret the data. A second technique for data interpretation involves critical friends. Trusted colleagues may provide the teacher researcher important insights that might have been originally missed. Critical friends may also ask questions about the data that assist the teacher researcher to further clarify the findings. The Highland Park teachers worked as a research team to conduct their action research study. The study’s data was interpreted from the team’s multiple perspectives.
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Concept maps can assist the action researcher by providing a visual representation of how he/she is conceptualizing the major influences affecting the study. The concept map can be used to illustrate the multiple perspectives of the participants and how they are analyzing the problem, and the consistencies and discrepancies among the participants. See page 130 for an example of a concept map.
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Describe how the strategy of concept mapping assists the data analysis process.
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Which components of Flinders’s (1992) conceptual framework for guiding ethical conduct in qualitative research reflect your own ethical beliefs?
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Flinders’s conceptual framework includes the following four perspectives: utilitarian, deontological, relational, and ecological ethics. In your efforts to clarify your values, consider the issues raised by these four perspectives and how resolving these issues can contribute to your personal/professional ethical stance.
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In your own words describe your own beliefs about research. What are a researcher’s roles and responsibilities? How are issues of informed consent, accuracy, deception, and social principles reflected in your ethical beliefs?
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In your own words describe your own beliefs about research. What are a researcher’s roles and responsibilities? How are issues of informed consent, accuracy, deception, and social principles reflected in your ethical beliefs?Researchers should have an ethical perspective that is close to their personal ethical positions. You will avoid potentially awkward situations if you have clarified your own ethical perspective before conducting your research. Be prepared to respond in a manner that is comfortable and natural for you.
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Based on the case study in chapter 7, complete the action chart on page 144 to develop an action plan that will effect positive educational change based on the insights gained through Jack Reston’s action research study.
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An action chart guides teacher researchers through the action planning process. Action planning basically attempts to answer the question, “Based on what I have learned from my research, what should I do now?” The chart identifies the findings of the study, the recommended action that targets a given finding, who is responsible for specific actions, who needs to be consulted or informed about the effects of the actions through the collection of data, a time line for when to carry out the action, and resources needed. For this case study, a variety of plans may be identified that address the study’s findings that students need to have opportunities to be successful, have a sense of belonging, and learn strategies for dealing with stress. In addition, a plan for developing family, school, and community partnerships should be included.
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In the above action plan for Jack Reston’s action research study, identify some potential challenges in implementing the plan. Your Answer:
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The scarcity of resources may be the greatest obstacle to action planning. But by being innovative and remaining energized by what you have learned about your teaching practices, you will find ways to make changes happen. Resources may be obtained through grants (see chapter 8), the parent-teacher association, school boards, and community organizations and businesses. Any type of change may be viewed as threatening by some; the status quo is familiar and comfortable. Gaining support and participation in the action research process is critical if there is to be a shift in the culture of schools.
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4. To what does the term “empowerment” refer?
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Reflecting on your practices through the writing process will “empower” you to continue to challenge the status quo and be an advocate for your students. Putting your action research to paper requires you to identify the outcomes of your study and how it will affect your teaching practices. This then provides the teacher researcher with a plan of action that will positively change his/her practices.
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What are some strategies identified in chapter 8 that will assist you in writing up your action research study? Describe two or three strategies and how they will assist you with this process.
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The text provides several suggestions for being a productive writer of action research. They include: writing in the morning hours, have writing supplies available, hand write drafts, and have a clean and organized area to write in. Establishing a writing routine is important in making writing part of your professional life and responsibility.
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Writing up research is not a task that all teacher researchers feel confident in doing. Describe the benefits for a teacher researcher to take on this task. Your Answer:
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The value in writing up your research is that the process of writing requires the writer to clarify meaning—choose words carefully, describe what is experienced or seen, reflect on experiences, and refine phrasing when putting words on a page. You may learn something important about your students and their learning, something you may have missed had you not put your thoughts in writing. Furthermore, the act of writing up your research for peers necessitates honesty, accuracy, clarity, and thought, encouraging a well-thought-out description and analysis of your study. Other reasons for writing up your research include validation of your research, empowerment to be a reflective practitioner, a tangible product to share, and sense of accomplishment
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A key barrier identified by teacher researcher is the issue of time. How will you make time for action research in your busy schedule? Identify a plan on how you will be able to conduct action research within your daily schedule. Your Answer:
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Action research is an ongoing process that is integral to a teacher researcher’s reflective decision-making process. Allow yourself time to reflect and plan at a pace that is reasonable. The goal is to evolve as a teacher researcher where action research is a part of your professional life. Review each stage of the action research process and see how it fits into your current practices. Devise a plan to extend your reflective practices to reflect the action research process. Be creative, involve your colleagues, and garner support from your administration to be a teacher researcher!
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Identify the benefits of sharing your action research with others. How does sharing your action research assist you in achieving your goal to improve the lives of your students?
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Teacher researchers can gain additional insight and satisfaction from their action research by sharing their work with other members of the teaching profession. The act of sharing and celebrating the findings of action research is a critical component of the professional teaching disposition and reflective practitioner. Similar to the benefits identified for writing up your action research, sharing encourages clarity, validates your research, empowers you to be a reflective practitioner, and generates a sense of accomplishment.
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Describe the criteria used to judge action research. What determines if your action research study gets published?
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As you now know, action research is different from traditional research in that it is done by and for the teacher researcher. In addition, the methods for doing action research and sharing it are suited for its purpose. In essence, action research addresses an issue or problem that needs to be solved, gathers sufficient data, and develops a plan of action based on the data for change or a new understanding that will enhance the lives of others. The criteria for judging action research (see Research in Action Checklist 9-1) involve: intractability of reform, audience, format, professional disposition, reflective stance, life-enhancing, action, action-data connection, impact, changes, and colleague response.
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Identify one Web site resource and describe how it assisted you in designing, implementing, evaluating, writing and/or sharing your action research. Choose any one of the Web site sources listed in chapter 9.
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The online resources offered at different sites typically fall into three categories: action research Web sites, listservs, and online journals. Action research Web sites can provide links to other relevant sites, action research articles, conferences, other action researchers, and additional valuable resources. Listservs are online discussion forums usually hosted by university computer networks. They are an invitation to participate in discussions with other action researchers from all over the world. Online journals are full-text, refereed, online teacher research journals
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Why does Mills suggest in the last chapter of his book that this is really the beginning of your work?
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At this point you have invested considerable time and energy reading about action research, learning how to do action research, locating action research within the broader framework of socially responsive research, developing your own action research efforts, clarifying an area of focus, establishing data collection techniques, undertaking data analysis and interpretation, and formulating an action plan through the use of a Steps to Action Chart. But now comes the real test of any educational innovation. Can it become a critical component of your regular, ongoing teaching practice? Armed with your knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes about action research, the work now begins as your routinize the practice and continue to monitor the effects of your innovation on students’ learning.

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