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

Action Research Questions in Education

Action Research Topics - Drawing of a teacher.

We've listed several potential action research topics in education that relate to our research methodology of using drawings to study science teaching and learning. There are many other action research topics in education that may require a different approach.

The sample questions below are provided to get you thinking about how you might use drawings as a source of data in your own action research.

You'll want to look at the scoring rubric and supporting instructions we developed for ideas on analyzing drawings. In our research we worked with teacher candidates and new teachers. Although students didn't take part in our study, you can also use our methodology to study your own classes.

Examples of questions to explore using drawings:

  • What experiences outside of the classroom during the summer break do my students self-identify as associated with learning science? How do they compare what they learn and how they learn science in differing environments (formal science classrooms and informal science settings)? How can I use that information to enhance my science instruction? (See example.)

  • What experiences do my ESOL students have learning science prior to entering my class? To what extent do my learners (and my science teaching) show evidence of 21st-Century recommendations for science education made by the USA National Research Council? (See example.)

  • Over the course of a school year what changes do I see in students' ideas about science teaching and learning? What influenced these changes? Can these influences be used to improve student learning? (Note: similar to our study, at a minimum you would need to collect drawings at the beginning and end of the semester/year. Collecting drawings in the middle of the semester/year would provide additional data to document possible changes over time.)

  • How does my thinking about science teaching and learning compare to that of my students?

  • Is there a difference in how higher- and lower-ability students think about science teaching and learning? If so, from where does this difference originate?

  • If students experience a science related field trip, how does their conception of learning science change? What aspects are of the most interest to them?

  • How do students from different backgrounds think about science teaching and learning? Do they have preferences?

  • Are there any gender trends in students' thinking about science teaching and science learning? If so, do they suggest any changes in instruction?

While we believe that drawings offer valuable insights we also see the need to combine them with other sources of data. For example, in our study we used interviews and writing in addition to drawings. For your action research topic this will also likely be true. Visit our Researchers section for more about our use of interviews as an additional data source.

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