Action Research Model

Action Research Model

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Tips for Working Through the Action Research Cycle

Step 1: Identify

Identify the current level of student performance (baseline) using multiple data sources.

Potential Sources:

  • Existing archival data within a school
  • Classroom and school observations
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Exhibits, portfolios, etc.
  • Test results
  • Inventories and checklists
  • Interviews
  • Visual recordings and photography
  • Journals and diaries

Identify desired student outcomes or the the level of performance your team would like to see students reach:

By having in mind the outcomes or performance you want students to reach you may be able to better determine the evidence that will clearly show current levels of performance and help you think about appropriate measures to determine effectiveness later. 

Identify Instructional resources:

Identify the resources that are already available and ones you need to help address the problem of concern (Instructional Knowledge, Instructional Relationships, Instructional Tools and Materials, and Organization Structures). Download Instructional Resources Graphic here.

Identify your own professional learning needs:

  • Seek professional learning experiences that are aimed at constructing knowledge and skills for helping you to design and implement an intervention that will address the problem.
  • Look for a close relationship between what the PD offers and solutions to the problem
  • Check the research – is there evidence of positive outcomes for the PD?
  • Attend professional development

Step 2: Design and Implement

Design an intervention that is informed by your professional learning experiences.

Design a researchable question that is:

  • A higher-order question – not a yes/no
  • Stated in common language, avoiding jargon
  • Concise
  • Meaningful
  • Not already have an answer (review the research literature )
  • For most situations where an intervention or change is made, the research question takes on some form of, "how effective is [the intervention] in helping our students reach the desired outcomes?
  • Design assessments (three different types) to gather evidence on student learning. Triangulation between data sources will provide confirmation of your findings (example: journals, projects & surveys).
  • Ask if the tools you have selected will assess student learning that will determine the effectiveness of the intervention and the research question. If not, look for other types of assessment.
  • Plan when you will assess student learning
  • Implement the intervention 

Step 3: Collect Data

Decide when you will collect the data. Try to collect data during various stages of the project.

Step 4: Analyze

Action researchers analyze data to summarize it dependably and accurately. Techniques depend on the type of data collected.

  • Identify themes – patterns that emerge and repeat
  • Code and sort results from surveys and interviews
  • Ask key questions: who, what, where, when & how
  • Identify needed data and unanswered questions

Data Interpretation - Techniques for teacher researchers

  • Extend analysis by raising more questions about the study
  • Compare findings with your personal experience as an educator
  • Collaborate – teamwork increases perspectives
  • Seek context in related literature
  • Turn to theory

Step 5: Reflect, Revise & Repeat

  • Reflect individually and in collaboration with your team on what you learned from the first cycle of action research.
  • Use the data findings and interpretation of the data to revise the intervention for the next cycle of action research.
  • Revisions can include a new direction of focus based on evidence from student learning, additional professional development, methods for assessing student learning, length of the intervention etc.
  • Repeat the cycle of action research. 
  • Prepare to report your findings.