I’ve always loved teacher action research. When I was teaching high school, I applied for a grant to get a laptop in my classroom to integrate technology into my YAL class. I had so much fun exploring the ways this laptop changed my instruction and the learning environment, and I was lucky to have an article published in The ALAN Review. I became more interested in research and engaged with my former college advisor to conduct another study a couple of years later. This kind of research is wildly exciting for me. (I am a dork! I admit it!)
This semester, I am teaching a graduate class called Investigating Classroom Literacies. The students in the class range from preservice teachers to inservice teachers. They are a phenomenal group of students, and I have loved working with them. We are reading two books. One is a textbook that introduces traditional qualitative research, and another is a teacher action research book.
It’s been fun to introduce traditional qualitative research designs to the students, and we’ve had fun playing with their research topics and how they fit into different research designs. That said, we are aiming to be more practical. The idea is that they will see research as more accessible, so we’ve looked carefully at teacher action research and how it differs in its ease of implementation.
Each student has picked a different topic to explore in their classrooms. Generally (so I don’t give away their specific ideas), they are looking at: using tools to help students with anxiety, examining differences in gender perceptions of leadership, mindfulness practices in ELA, flexible vs. teacher-selected grouping, college student responses to identity-based activities, and teacher preparation for health-related issues. Their topics are much more specific than these, but I am genuinely excited by the range in their interests within English Education.
The students have workshopped their research questions with the entire group, and they are currently writing their literature reviews. I am very much looking forward to talking about data collection and analysis next. Yahoo! I have the best job in the universe!
Do you do teacher action research formally or informally in your classroom? What is your favorite part about it?