TL Standard 3 Reflection
After learning about what an action research project looked like, I had a vision of what I wanted to do. I wanted to see several changes in my classroom but I didn’t know which to focus on first. In chapter 3 of The Action Research Guidebook: A Four-Stage Process for Educators and School Teams, Sagor states, “When people are unsure of their destinations, they tend to take wrong turns, extend their trips with unnecessary detours, and potentially end up where they hadn’t intended to go” (Sagor, 31). I decided to pick what I felt would be the most beneficial for my students. I wanted to see higher levels of engagement and retention in all subject areas but I soon realized that was much too large for an action research project. I needed to narrow down my project to one subject area to test my hypothesis and plan. Once I completed this action research project I could try and apply the things that worked into other subject areas to hopefully see an improvement in those areas as well. In the text Sagor mentions, “Whatever approach you decide to use, it is imperative to stop before proceeding any farther to ask yourself of your team, ‘Is this topic really worth an investment of my or our precious time and energy?’” (Sagor, 29). This really stuck with me and actually changed my topic of research. He made it very clear that your topic must be meaningful to you, something you are passionate about. If it isn’t something you are passionate about, it will become like a chore for you to do.
The text states, “Creating a time and space for private thought is the primary virtue of the reflective writing process” (Sagor, 13). Journaling in my classroom each day before and after school is something that I really enjoy. This led me into bringing the reflective journal into my action research project. It was a great way to track and make notes about my whole class, individual students and note what was working as well as what wasn’t working each day.
I feel that reading the Sagor text really helped shape and set my action research project up in a successful way. The additional literature I did at the beginning of my project also really helped narrow down the focus my plan. The literature that I found all had similarities to what engaged learners look like and gave several examples at how you as a teacher could give your students a hook and allow them to express themselves showing individuality. My research also discussed the importance of closures in lessons to help recollection of content. Some of the sources had wonderful examples for older grades but I struggled finding examples that were applicable for my age group.
This action research project helped change my practice in my classroom. During completion of this action research project, I created several data collection papers and materials that helped me track progress for my students. They have helped shape the upcoming material and it has reiterated just how important closure is for every lesson. It is easy to get wrapped up in their work time and lose track of time and just throw out the wrap up/debrief session. I was able to continue this action research project to start a new school year and have seen my students make great gains.
Not only did I learn how to conduct an action research project in my classroom, I also learned how to apply research and critique primary and secondary sources. Before taking these courses, I could not tell you what the difference between basic research, applied research and action research. I also could not specify the difference between a primary and secondary source, not to mention be able to analyze and critique an article effectively! Ruth Ravid’s book, Practical Statistics for Educators does a nice job breaking down and explaining the multiple avenues within different types of research. Ravid states, “The focus of most textbooks on action research in education is on qualitative research. Nonetheless, teachers, administrators, and other educational professions need to understand quantitative research, to interpret test scores, to participate in data-driven decision making, and to be educated consumers of educational research” (Ravid, xv). As seen in my Article Critique I was taught to take a piece of research and dive deep into critiquing the purpose and design of the research as well as looking to the sampling procedures, variables, reliability and validity, analysis conclusions and limitations of that article. Learning how to not only find primary and secondary sources but also how to critique them is a skill I can immediately implement into the research done by my grade level team when looking for research to support curriculum and practices we use. I also learned how to complete a data analysis. As seen in my Data Analysis , I learned how to read data provided in a table and analyze its meaning. We focused on finding the mean, standard deviation, kurtosis and skewness of the data and what that means when looking at a research study. It is easy and fairly common for researchers to change data to make it represent and say what they want it to. I now have the foundation for knowing how to analyze data that is given to me in a research article. These skills can help me determine if the study and research is sound or not. This was a large take away for me because it is so easy to believe that the data you read about in research and popular books and journal articles are feeding you true information when in fact the research several of these articles and books are not sound or supported by primary resources or may have been altered. I was asked to critique the article Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School published by Reading Research Quarterly, a very well-known and respectable journal. I was amazed at how little the data supported the claims they made within the article. The authors manipulated the data to represent and prove their hypothesis to be correct. Learning the fine details that make a source reliable and credible is an invaluable skill to have which I can now confidently say I obtain.
C. Anderson, R., T. Wilson, P., & G. Fielding, L. (1988). Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School. International Reading Association, 23(3), 285-303. From http://www.jstor.org/stable/748043
Chapell, M., Blanding, Z., Silverstein, M., Takahashi, M., Newman, B., Gubi, A., & McCann, N. (2005). Test Anxiety And Academic Performance In Undergraduate And Graduate Students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(2), 268-274.
Ravid, R. (2011). Practical statistics for educators (4th ed.). Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Sagor, R. (2011). The action research guidebook: A four-stage process for educators and school teams. (2nd ed., pp. 1-31). Thousand Oaks: Corwin.