In class during week 8 we discussed Zepeda’s (2012) chapter on Action Research. Action research is a logical step to take when an educator wishes to look deeply into his/her own practice and devise a plan to improve student learning. I like that it is systematic and cyclical. Action research calls us to identify an area of focus, collect data, analyze and interpret the data, and define an action plan. This encompasses the planning part of action research. The next steps are to act on the plan, observe the effects, reflect, and then start the cycle over again, incorporating the new learning.
Kemmis and McTaggart (as cited in Zepeda, 2012, p. 249) emphasize that action research is not simply “the scientific method applied to teaching.” We do not create a hypothesis and then test it out to come to a conclusion. Rather, action research focuses on the researcher and on changing situations.
I am reminded of an event for teachers I attended at the Seattle Aquarium in 2010. The featured speaker was Dr. Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine. He was also former Head of the National Academy of Sciences. Much of his talk centered on how more science minded teachers are needed in education. Specifically, he would like to see teachers with Ph.Ds in the classroom. (How this would impact state resources is another topic!)The learning associated with graduate degree programs prepares teachers to think and plan in a systematic and scientific manner. This type of thinking becomes second nature. I found myself really intrigued by this notion. I had not considered how important it is for teachers to approach issues and their own learning in this way. Much of the professional development we study in this class falls in line with Dr. Albert’s views. Or, more appropriately, Dr. Albert’s views fall in line nicely with the subject matter of this class.
Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.