What is action research?
In my current class in the DLL program, we are looking into research and how to conduct research in our own classrooms. Why would research in a classroom be important? Education is evolving every day and research into problems, or areas that need to be updated are part of best practice for teachers. Traditional research methods are generally not practical for classrooms, and would be too time consuming for most teachers whose plates are already overflowing with other tasks. In the book Action Research, the author highlights a research method more suitable for the classroom. Action research can be broken down into 4 steps and this type of research is cyclical in nature. The four steps include finding an area to focus on, gathering data, looking at the data, and creating a plan. Once the process is complete, you can identify new areas of focus or go back and look at an aspect of prior research and start again. The purpose of this research is to look at issues and use collected data to either find solutions or create something new. As teachers, we evaluate our practices all the time. We tweak and change lessons, or come up with ways to deal with problem behavior in class all the time, so action research is simply a formal way for us to look at those issues and come up with solutions. I am beginning my own action research based on my innovation project and have laid out an outline for my plan below.
My topic for action research
My topic centers around blended learning stations in my 6th grade social studies classroom. Many social studies classes including my own have used traditional methods such as lectures and textbooks to teach history and geography. I have come to the realization that many students do not benefit from traditional teaching methods and the lecture style format is not engaging and may be hard for some students to follow. Also, many students do not have prior knowledge of the topics covered in class and have difficulty making connections to the learning. The purpose of adding stations into my lessons is to add choice for students in how they learn, help build background knowledge to help make connections and deepen understanding and create opportunities for students to work collaboratively. My goal is to design a classroom and lessons that enhance student learning.
Purpose for my study
My action research will focus on the impact that adding blended learning stations will have on student learning. Blended learning and stations have been proven effective in prior research, but there is little information about the effects of adding these into a middle school social studies curriculum. My research will examine the connections between the addition of blended learning stations and the impact they have on students’ understanding of social studies concepts such as geography.
Fundamental research question
What type of impact will the addition of blended learning stations have on student learning in my classes?
Secondary questions which can also be answered through this research are:
What effect do blended learning stations have on building background knowledge?
What impact if any, do blended learning stations have on the achievement gap between high performing and struggling students?
For this study I will be using the preexperimental research design with a one-group pretest and posttest. I will be answering my research question by looking for change from the beginning of the study to its conclusion using quantitative data. I plan to use this type of design because it will work best with the type of study I am conducting, fits within a shorter timeframe, and works with the dynamics of my classroom. I will be using only my classes in the study which are diverse and contain students of all academic levels. Some drawbacks to this type of study are that there is no control group, and there will be no way to rule out other reasons for changes that may occur from pretest to posttest. However, action research is cyclical in nature, and this will be my foundational research and the data will be evaluated and considered for my future action research studies.
Types of data to collect
I will be collecting quantitative data through a pretest and posttest. I am also considering adding a survey to the study to help validate some of the data obtained in in the pretest and posttest. Gathering quantitative data will help my identify trends that will help answer my research questions.
Measurement and techniques
I will create a pretest using a program called Eduphoria that covers the various TEKS in my first unit for 6th grade social studies. I will incorporate blended learning stations into the unit as I teach it. At the conclusion of the unit a posttest that covers the same set of TEKS will be administered to students to identify any changes in learning that occurred. I would like to add a survey into the study after a few weeks of teaching with stations and before the posttest is given. Once the unit is complete, I will desegregate the data and identify any changes that occur and then further break down the data into sub-population groups to look for changes there.
Literature review focus
The focus of my literature review will be on research related to the success of blended learning station implementations. I will be looking specifically at peer reviewed journal articles that support the use of blended learning stations and flipped classroom designs. I will also include articles that support gains in student learning because of implementing blended learning in the classroom.
Mertler, C. A. (2020). Action research: improving schools and empowering educators (fifth). SAGE Publications, Inc.