Drawn to Science Education: Studying Science Teaching and Learning through Drawings

Action Research Questions in Education

There are a number of sources of inspiration for developing action research questions. Thinking about problems you would like to solve in your classroom or school, talking with your colleagues and students, attending conferences, and reading the literature can all be helpful. Coming up with a good research question for action research takes time and effort but the reward is more manageable and meaningful research.

Good action research questions:

  • are significant and can lead to better teaching and more successful students,
  • are manageable and can be completed in the context of a busy job,
  • address problems that are relevant, interesting, and meaningful to you,
  • are higher order questions that seek explanations, relationships, and reasons, and
  • lead to other questions and expand your perspective.

Suggestions for developing questions:

  • Don't work in isolation. Talk with other teachers, administrators, and students to identify areas you might investigate. You can also read examples of what other teachers have researched.
  • Keep a record of interesting observations or questions you have over several weeks and use these as a source of ideas.
  • Review educational theories and conceptual frameworks to give you a broad perspective.

Poor questions for action research:

  • focus on what is already known and available in the literature,
  • try to "prove" an idea or theory rather than develop an understanding based on the data, or
  • only attempt to find a "yes" or "no" answer to a question.

The Center for Collaborative Action research suggests a process of framing questions by recognizing a problem, identifying a possible solution, and anticipating outcomes.

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