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

Classroom Action Research

Conducting classroom action research can be a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. Having a well-defined plan will make the process go more smoothly and result in more interesting and useful research. There are several models you can follow to conduct classroom action research, but at its most basic form you will:

  1. Identify a problem or research question(s).
  2. Plan the research (including a literature review and theory of understanding or conceptual framework).
  3. Collect and organize data.
  4. Analyze data and make interpretations.
  5. Reflect on the process and what you learned.
  6. Share findings and take action.
  7. Repeat the cycle with new questions or problems found in your research.
Process of Classroom Action Research
Figure 1: Classroom Action Research Model

Most models present action research as a cycle, starting with a question and ending with more questions. The image above is intended to capture the cyclic nature of classroom action research.

Trustworthiness of Findings

For teachers studying their students or studying their own teaching it is important to understand that a major goal of action research is to promote change that supports student learning and success. To attain this goal we need to be able to trust the results of our work and be confident our conclusions are accurate. There are three primary ways to do this.

The first is to collect data from more than one source (data triangulation) or with more than one research method (methodological triangulation). In our work we used interview data and written text in addition to the drawings. Triangulation, or using multiple data sources, will add to the trustworthiness of your findings.

Another way is to constantly be looking for other explanations or anything that might disprove our findings. This is a difficult thing to do since we are often vested in our theories about what is taking place. But asking "What else could explain what I am seeing?" can help us avoid any blind spots we may have and strengthens our research.

Finally, approaching classroom action research as a cycle will allow you to refine and strengthen your findings. Each time you move though the cycle there are new opportunities to question, observe, and reflect. In this sense, your research builds upon itself to enhance your understanding of teaching and student learning.

Conducting Classroom Action Research

For more information and models for conducting action research in your own teaching or classroom context, visit the following websites:

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