What is Action Research? #seaccr

Before this week, I had never heard this term before.  One statement I found that, for me, best defines action research was “research (that) takes shape while it is being performed.” (Riel, 2010)  On a more personal level, it is a method for interpreting and evaluating one’s actions with the goal of imporving practice. (Riel, 2010)  Although most of the information I found focused on teachers using action research in their classroom, it is not confined to education.  “It is suitable for anyone who wishes to improve his or her performance.” (Sagor)

Teachers and principals are most known for conducting action research because of its less formal nature.  This makes it one of the easiest forms of research.  One teacher, a professional learning community or an entire school faculty, can do it.  (Sindhi, 2013)

But why would teachers want to conduct research on their own instead of just read up on and follow the research already being conducted around the nation?  Because the most reliable and effective research is that done by ourselves on our own students studying problems that we are struggling with in our classrooms.  The findings are more relevant because the data is collected from the very students and teachers who are engaged in the strategy. (Sagor)

Another interesting paper I read said that action research is a path to adaptive expertise.  “It is the process of continual learning because both the learners and the field are viewed as evolving and so the balance requires continual adjustments.” (Riel, 2010)

After defining action research, I realized that this is what we are doing for this class.  I am still trying to determine what is expected of us for this research project as I think about how I best want to improve my teaching practices.  There are so many things that I could research in my classroom or school, but I as a math teacher, I am trying to determine how the new ELA standards can best benefit my math students.  Since many of my students are English Learners that struggle with reading, one math concept that they struggle with constantly is problem-solving.  They have such difficulty reading a word problem and deciding how to solve the problem or what information is relevant to solving the problem.  I am leaning toward something along these lines.  I would definitely love some input and thoughts from all of you!



Sagor, Richard (May 2000).  Guiding School Improvement with Action Research.  Published by the

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).  Accessed online on September 13, 2013 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research%C2%A2.aspx


Riel, M. (2010).  Understanding Action Research.  Center for Collaborative Action Research.  Pepperdine

University (Last revision September 2013).  Access online on September 13, 2013 from http://cadres.pepperdine.edu/ccar/define.html


Sindhi, Swaleha (September 2013).  Action Research in Education: An Instrument of Injecting Innovative

Approaches to Teaching and Learning.  Countercurrents.org.  Accessed online on September 13, 2013 from http://www.countercurrents.org/sindhi130913.htm


3 thoughts on “What is Action Research? #seaccr

  1. Ms. Bridges

    Hi Brandi,

    I just finished reading your blog post on action research and like you I am also very new to this practice. I like the idea of teachers viewing their classrooms as always evolving, as you mentioned in your post. This makes sense when you think about the different generations of students and how technology influences so much of our world today. Knowing this, teachers and our teaching practice should always be evolving as well. The idea of action research is making more and more sense to me!

    I also wanted to encourage you in your idea of researching how to best support ELL learners in your class. Here is some information I thought might help: Alaska is a member of the WIDA Consortium, which produces standards and assessments for ELL students. One of the resources they offer is called Can-Do statements. Basically, you can look at a student’s WIDA assessment and get a ranking for their English skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Then you can look at the Can-Do descriptors to get an idea of what the student is capable of doing in each area in English. This is hugely helpful in planning accommodations to instruction, learning activities, and assessments. Here’s the link. http://www.wida.us/standards/CAN_DOs/index.aspx You would need to talk to the ELL Teacher/Tutor at your school to get an idea of the students’ most recent assessment score. That will give you a rough estimate of their English development and then you can look at the corresponding indicators.

    Hope this is useful to you. Another UAS student gave me this information when I was student teaching desiring to further help ELL students in my class.

    Jamie B.

    1. bsportie Post author


      Thanks for the information. I am familiar with WIDA and as soon as I read your post I started thinking of how I could use it. I had not thought of it before. My sister is the person who administers it here at our school, so the information will be easy for me to get. I am really excited about the direction of my thoughts and I hope I can tie down a specific problem soon. Thanks again 🙂


  2. lrmontes

    I like your idea of incorporating the ELA standards for teaching math word problems. I also think that ultimately you should choose a research topic that would best help your class, even if the ELA standards are not the highlight. The thing I am most excited for in this research project is the potential benefit our classes will get from our findings. Best of luck!


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