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Collect And Analyze Data To Create An Action Research Plan On A Problem Issue Concern Or Need At Your School

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Action Research: Purpose, Problem Statement, Question(s), and Literature Review

Collect and analyze data to create an action research plan on a problem, issue, concern or need at your school. Prior to beginning the action research project, you should read and reflect on the resource, Thinking Through Two Action Research Scenarios for a better understanding.

Part 1: Detailed Directions

Step 1. Purpose, Problem Statement, and Research Questions

  1. Review the course readings and learning objects that describe the steps of action research. As you move through Steps 2-6 and develop your research paper, consult the Resource for Steps 2-6 below as you define the research purpose and problem and make other decisions.
  2. Consider a full range of issues, concerns, problems, and needs in your practice.
  3. Select one problem (issue, concern, problem, need) that is of interest to you and appropriate to action research.
  4. Gather information you already have about the selected problem (issue, concern, problem, need) including existing quantitative and qualitative data and your own observations.
    • You may choose the format for presenting the information you gather. You may describe the information in narrative format or use visuals such as concept maps or other analytic graphics.
    • Use the information you have gathered to further define the purpose and problem (issue, concern, problem, need) of your research.
  5. Clearly articulate what you are trying to find out in a problem statement. What is the problem (issue, concern, problem, need) your research is addressing? The problem statement should align with your research purpose and may sound repetitive.
  6. Compose 1-3 research questions that are explicit and open-ended (not yes or no questions). What questions should you ask to help resolve the problem (issue, concern, problem, need)?

Resource for Steps 2-6

The following may stimulate your thinking as you look for a suitable problem (issue, concern, problem, need) and move through your action research project.

Step 2. Problem Definition
What wonderings do you have about your professional practice? What do you need to know more about to be optimally effective? What classroom, school, or workplace situations need to be examined? What methods and practices require more study? Think specifically about your classroom, school, or workplace and avoid problems (issue, concern, problem, need) beyond your control. Sometimes it helps to use sentence stems as starting points to identify an issue you want to research such as the following: I would like to improve ____. I might be more effective in my work if I knew more about ____. The first thing I would change in my classroom/school/workplace if I could is ____. Many types of problems are suitable for action research: integrating curriculum, improving or experimenting with teaching strategies, adapting to the needs of a group, finding a way to motivate students or faculty, making learning more student-centered, building character and community, improving assessments, etc.

Step 3. Problem Selection
From your wonderings and thoughts about what you need to know or examine, select a problem (issue, concern, problem, need), and explain why it is important to your practice.

Step 4. Gathering Data to Further Define the Problem and Establish Purpose
How do you know it is a problem (issue, concern, problem, need)? What evidence do you have that the problem is worth investigating? What data sources support the problem you have identified? What are the chances that an investigation might lead to action on your part to improve the situation or resolve the problem? From the information you have gathered, what is the purpose of your research?

Step 5. Problem Statement
Clearly articulate your problem (issue, concern, problem, need) in an explicit problem statement.

Step 6. Researchable Questions
From your problem statement, formulate 1-3 researchable questions. Each question should be narrowly focused and specific. For example, a teacher may have noticed girls are not performing well in chemistry labs. The problem is reasonably clear, so she might ask, “Why are girls not performing as well as boys?” “How could traditional gender roles, and stereotypes be factors?” “How could grouping by gender during lab time improve the performance of female students?” If you have “why” questions in mind, they will need to be recast to make them researchable beginning with “how,” “what,” “does,” “will,” etc. If you have “yes/no” questions in mind, they will need to be revised so that they are open-ended.

Another example would be low journal-writing production. A teacher might ask, “How can modeling encourage more writing?” and “What might stimulate more writing?” A teacher who chooses this as a focus might discover when reviewing the literature that a word wall could help. She then asks, “How could interactive word walls improve the journal writing of my kindergarten students?” and “With what age groups have word walls been effective?” In some cases, the questions are essentially hypotheses that can be tested through action research. In other cases, they are purely exploratory and geared toward problem clarification.

Part 2: Detailed Directions: Literature Review

Begin in Module 1, and complete in Module 2.

The purpose of a literature review is to know what others have discovered about your topic before you begin your own investigation. A literature review grounds your study in what is known about a subject and establishes a foundation for the research question(s) you will seek to answer. Relevant, peer-reviewed articles will help you better understand the problem (issue, concern, problem, need) and may introduce either data collection techniques you may want to use or intervention ideas you may want to incorporate into an action plan. You will discover information that will help you compile a promising action research project.

  1. Use the ACE library journal databases to locate, read, and review at least three articles or studies that relate to and inform the action research you are planning. Your Module 1 Analysis assignment need not include a detailed review of all three. Only one is expected in Module 1, and you will complete your literature review in Module 2.
  2. In your literature search, place a check in the box for “peer reviewed,” so you are sure to use only peer-reviewed studies.
  3. Describe each article or study using at least two well-developed paragraphs, and include information about the purpose, problem statement, research questions, theory, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  4. Cite your sources using APA style, and reference the article in an APA-formatted references list at the end of your paper. Place titles in your references list only, not in the body of your paragraphs.
  5. Upload your action research paper, including your working literature review, as one document.


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