Action Research as Applicable to Educators

Although action research refers to investigation conducted by a small group to impact the “immediate work environment” (McMillan, 2007, p. 343), it can apply to educators as a whole.  Just as one might consider context of traditional research and reflect on how it might apply to a more personal situation, so can one compare the study and results within a specific improvement situation to determine how it might apply on a direct level.  Action research also supplies quite a bit of statistical information that can influence data-driven decisions.  By reviewing action studies in similar environments, educators can better determine whether a similar undertaking might yield positive results, thus saving time and effort as they strive to enhance practice.  Action research allows the impetus for change – it can “[alter] curriculum, [challenge] common school practices, and [work] for social change by engaging in a continuous process of problem posing, data gathering, analysis, and action” (McMillan, 2007, p. 344).

 

Before teaching, I worked with curriculum implementations for an educational company.  It was very common for districts considering implementation to review case studies of action plans implemented in similarly sized or similarly located areas.  Traditional research provided justification for the teaching methodologies utilized in the particular programs, the choices of assessment, and so on; the action research provided justification and evidence of success and viability.  Together, this provided a thorough and robust argument in favor of the curriculum decisions that were being made.

 

Action research helps teachers to “understand the benefits of existing literature in an area as well as evidence-based systematic inquiry” (McMillan, 2007, p. 345).  In essence, this encourages a growth-mindset that supports thinking, reflection, and a safe climate that is not risk-averse.  It is not just a mechanism for change, but purposeful change.

 

McMillan, J. H. (2007). Educational Research: Fundamentals for the Consumer 6th ed. Pearson.

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