What is Action Research?


No disrespect to Mertler—His book was actually pretty helpful.  I just wanted to try out Vine… because that’s what kids these days are into.  Sadly, “Action Research” has nothing to do with fighting off zombie ninjas or scaling enemy fortresses.  Fortunately, it doesn’t mean being put to sleep by reading either.

To quote Craig Mertler (2012), “Action research is designed as any systematic inquiry conducted by teachers, and administrator, counselors, or others with a vested interest in the teaching and learning process or environment for the purpose of gathering information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how their students learn.  More important, action research is characterized as research that is done by teachers for themselves.”  It is a reflective method that helps the educator to not only identify a potential challenge in teaching, but also seeks to resolve it.

There are number of “formally” label models for how this takes place, but essentially they all follow the same pattern: 1- Planning stage, 2- the acting stage, 3- the developing stage, and 4- the reflecting stage.  When I did action research for my literacy course, I studied the most efficient ways to motivate students into becoming life-long, independent readers.  Even though my initial research was from a more theoretical perspective, it was still a very valuable experience.  Compiling the various research that had already been done was extensive, but it was well worth it when I got to put those principles into practice.

I also appreciate just how reflective the process is.  It forces the instructor to slow down and really questions what the “game plan” is; how the experience went; what worked and what didn’t work.  Often, teaching just gets so chaotic and important concepts get lost in the chaos of survival.  It is important to slow down analyze our goals; decide whether or not we are meeting them; or deciding how we are going to get there.



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4 responses to “What is Action Research?

  1. Amanda

    I agree. I remember when getting my BA, I had to reflect on every lesson. We do get very busy and forget to self reflect. I am continuously trying to reflect on each lesson I teach. I think it’s important for schools to reflect on how their students’ are progressing. We are educators for a reason, the last thing we want to happen is students’ fail on our behalf of not being educated, goal oriented or driven. I think we all need to reflect on our own practice and collaborate with our peers constantly.

  2. Tiffany:

    I really liked that you combined the definition that you found in a source with your personal experience to illustrate the concept of action research. I think providing that kind context helps others understand. It is definitely a reflective process with powerful implications for teachers and students.

  3. You managed to articulate the thoughts I’ve had lately about research after reading through everyone’s blogs and our readings. Teaching is chaotic and the important stuff does get lost in the daily survival business of teaching. But action research forces us to take a breath and really think about what we are doing and take a long hard look at our goals. Great post!

  4. I believe you pointed out the importance of being culturally relevant. This is especially important in many parts of Alaska. I know that cultural relevance is something that should always be included in our thinking as educators. I really like your take on classroom research.

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