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Using Action Research Templates

Using Action Research Templates


In this lesson, students evaluate different action research templates and their use.

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Hi and welcome to this lesson. My name is Gino Sangiuliano and in this video, we'll take a look at the use of action research templates. Let's get started.

Have you ever gone through the steps of searching for the right house or the right car? The internet has made it so simple in terms of finding the one that meets your specifications. There are checklists that cover virtually everything you can imagine, and you just click away and hit Enter. Magically your results appear.

Choosing an action research template might not be exactly the same life-altering decision. However, there are requirements that you will want to satisfy before choosing the right one for you. Action research is defined as a collaborative process that can be used by site-based management systems and PLCs to identify areas of concern. Teams then develop a focus on a problem, and develop a plan to address that problem using a systematic process.

As part of the entire process, the SBM or PLC uses research-based approaches to improve achievement. Another element of action research is the study of the actual impact the implementation has on the perception of teachers and students, as well as student achievement. This process is meant to help support school personnel in meeting the needs of all learners.

Your team will find an array of action research templates to choose from, but you'll want to find the model that best matches your team's focus and specific purpose. An advantage of site-based management is that teams have the autonomy to personalize their approach within the confines of the process. In this case, teams may find that they need to develop their own action research template, or perhaps modify existing ones that they have readily available through text or online searches to find the one that best meets the needs of their focus after asking some crucial questions, however.

Action research is closely aligned with Stephen Brookfield's critical thinking theory, which identifies four processes involved in critical thinking. These processes include contextual awareness and deciding what to observe and consider, being aware of what is occurring within the particular context of the situation, and what's important to take notice of. As an educator, this skill is often used when interpreting data and looking beyond the numbers.

Secondly, exploring and imagining alternatives. This entailed developing different solutions to problems. We often refer to this as out-of-the-box thinking. Third, another element of critical thinking is an assumption recognition and analysis. This requires the learner to admit personal biases and preferences that may influence thoughts and actions.

And lastly, reflective skepticism and deciding what to do. This requires one to look within and self reflect in order to determine why you have identified the problem, and how the potential action is influenced by your beliefs and values. This is especially important when you are part of a group, because you will want to make sure that your decisions and role support the collective mission, vision, and goals.

When evaluating action research templates, ask yourself the following-- note that each question aligns to the four critical thinking processes. Does it include a section that outlines the current reality, including such items as setting, individuals involved, current observations, relevant data, and feedback? Does it require a single solution to solving the problem, or does it lay the foundation for future actions? It is important that the team is able to engage in authentic inquiry when developing the action steps.

Does the template require team analysis of the current reality biases and assumptions that make get in the way of solving the problem? Teams may decide to add this to the inquiry protocol on the template since many templates leave this out. Does the template allow for revisiting the progress toward meeting the goal and adjusting the actions along the way if the goal is not being met? This is critical because it requires teams to drill down into the data and ask tough questions like why? Or did we follow the actions as intended?

Here's an example of an action research template. Let's take a look at it, and then we'll walk through it and ask some questions. The flow chart begins here. Does this template include a section to outline the current reality? Yes, the data collection phase satisfies this question.

Does this template require the use of a single solution, or does it lay the foundation for the solution? This template is pretty narrow and suggests a single solution. Does this template require the team to analyze their current assumptions? Yes it does. Does this template allow for revisiting the progress and potentially adjusting the actions when progress is not evident? No, it does not, so I would add that step right here to my template.

So to summarize, we looked at the definition of action research and discussed what it means to evaluate an action research template. After reviewing Stephen Brookfield's critical thinking theory, we applied a series of questions to a sample template. Here's today's food for thought. Conduct a Google search of action research templates in education, and you'll find hundreds. Find one that makes sense for your situation.

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompany this video presentation. This is where you'll find links and resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Using Action Research Templates"

(00:00-00:09) Intro

(00:10-00:38) Choosing the Right One

(00:39-01:20) Defining Action Research

(01:21-01:51) Evaluating Templates

(01:52-03:04) Critical Thinking Theory

(03:05-04:12) Questions

(04:13-04:58) Sample Template

(04:59-05:42) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Continuous Improvement: Documents & Templates

This page on the Cedar Rapids Community School website includes action research, PDSA, and school improvement templates for review and download. These tools may be useful for teams exploring the best templates to meet their needs.

A Handbook for Professional Learning: Research, Resources, and Strategies for Implementation

This handbook provides a comprehensive overview of PLC strategies, teaching and learning best practices, resources, and templates to use in the development of action research as part of school improvement and teacher development.