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Action Research: Purpose, Problem Statement, Question(s), and Literature ReviewSubmit the assignment by 11:59 PM PT Sunday of Module 1.Action Research Overview – The purpose of action research is to assess and evaluate professional practice in ways that improve understanding and result in constructive change through action. Action research can be used when there is a problem (concern, issue, problem, or need) in one’s practice and he/she is willing to investigate it systematically and then take action. Action research has multiple purposes. It can be conducted to prepare for or inform an action plan and thus serve a formative purpose (research for action). It can be conducted during an ongoing action plan to monitor and evaluate process and implementation, so adjustments can be made (research in action). It can be conducted to determine the outcomes or effects of an action plan and thus serve a summative purpose (research of action). Action research can serve all three purposes in succession (for-action to prepare for or inform, in-action to monitor and adjust, and of-action to measure outcomes or effects).In this course, you will use formative action research (research for action), also described as problem defining or descriptive research, to develop an action plan or a plan for future action(s) and explore options for evaluating the outcome of future action(s). You will only implement/evaluate portions of the action plan you create in this course (i.e., collecting data). This project is more of a proposal, and while you will collect and analyze some data, you will not carry out the entire research plan. Access the Formative Action Research Paper Outline from the assignment page. Organize your research paper in this format (headings, subheadings, etc.).Directions:Review the resource Thinking Through Two Action Research Scenarios.
Create a Word or text document for your response. Use 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font.
Use APA format for the paper, title page, references page, and in-text citations for your action research paper.
Follow the Formative Action Research Paper Outline for headings and subheadings.
Follow the directions to complete Part 1 and Part 2.
Before you submit your document, save a copy to your desktop. You will refer to this document in the Modules 2-4 assignment.
Follow the directions to submit your final 5- to 7-page Word or text document.
Access the Formative Action Research Paper Outline (Links to an external site.) for use in this assignment.General Directions:Through the assignments in this course, you will collect and analyze data to create an action research plan. Prior to beginning your action research project, you should read and reflect on the resource, Thinking Through Two Action Research Scenarios, at the end of this assignment page.In Module 1, you will establish a purpose for your research; select a problem (issue, concern problem, need) in your school; compose research question(s) to guide your investigation, and conduct a literature review (Modules 1-2) to help answer your research question(s). Searching the literature to find out how others have researched the problem will put you in a better position to move forward with collecting data and conducting appropriate action planning to improve the situation.You may (a) work alone and focus on your own practice, (b) work with peers in your school to address a problem at your grade level or in your subject area, or (c) work collaboratively to address a schoolwide problem. If you are not a teacher but a school administrator, you may want to address a schoolwide issue. You may also want to work collaboratively with another administrator.IMPORTANT NOTE: When it comes to collaborating with others, it is important to note that collaboration is when you can work together on the same ideas. However, when you write the assignment, it must be your own work, and not “co-authored” with someone.Part 1: Detailed DirectionsStep 1. Purpose, Problem Statement, and Research QuestionsReview 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.
Consider a full range of issues, concerns, problems, and needs in your practice.
Select one problem (issue, concern, problem, need) that is of interest to you and appropriate to action research.
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.
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.
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 2-6The 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 DefinitionWhat 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 SelectionFrom 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 PurposeHow 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 StatementClearly articulate your problem (issue, concern, problem, need) in an explicit problem statement.Step 6. Researchable QuestionsFrom 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 ReviewBegin 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.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.
In your literature search, place a check in the box for “peer reviewed,” so you are sure to use only peer-reviewed studies.
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.
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.
Upload your action research paper, including your working literature review, as one document.
Resource: Thinking Through Two Action Research ScenariosBefore you begin to work on your action research project, read this scenario and/or the one that follows. The goal of the scenario is to help you better understand the process of thinking through an action research project. It is written in the teacher’s voice using “I” to reflect the thinking process. It is not an example of an action research paper, but rather the thought process during the project. See the Formative Action Research Paper Outline as a guide to writing your actual paper.Example 1 – The thought process during an action research project (Teacher):I am the sponsor of a technology club at my school, and I have been concerned that fewer girls join the club than boys. I have been concerned about this for some time and keep asking myself: “Why do fewer girls than boys choose to participate in the technology club?” To answer the question, I decide to engage in action research that has a descriptive purpose. At this point, I am not concerned with promoting girls’ attendance in the club or finding interventions to increase girls’ attendance. I just want to learn all I can and describe the situation accurately…to answer my “Why?” question.I search the professional, peer-reviewed literature and seek out relevant information and research studies appropriate to my topic. What I find confirms my observations and reasons for concern and points me in the right direction to learn more through my own research, so I can eventually take action. Based on the literature, girls just aren’t as interested in technology as boys. In fact, the research calls technology “the new boys’ club.” One reason cited for girls’ lack of participation is they perceive technology as isolated, and girls prefer to engage in collaborative activities which build relationships.After collecting background information from the literature, I map out a formative data collection plan to answer my research question about my technology club. I know I have to complete this phase first and finish in four weeks, so I decide to collect qualitative data from three sources: 1) a survey of girls who are in the club, 2) a focus group of girls who are not in the club, and 3) an interview with the computer lab teacher who has observed the students. From the survey tool, I gain female club members’ opinions about why some girls choose to join and others don’t. From the focus group, I engage girls who are not in the club in dialogue about their beliefs and attitudes about technology and the club. From the interview with the computer lab teacher, I gather her observations about her female students, their interest in technology and her insights about girls and the technology club.After collecting the data, I use the technique recommended for organizing qualitative data: I focus on the words or phrases expressed during the research collection process to look for patterns and themes. (NOTE: If I had used a quantitative, or numeric, source, I would have displayed my data in a table or graph.) From the organized data, several patterns or themes emerge. Girls say they don’t join the technology club because they see it as “a boys’ club,” their friends don’t want to join, and they think they will sit at a computer for an hour after school every day without getting to interact with others.After summarizing the patterns and themes, I compose a one-page summary of my research. At this point, I am not ready to share my findings with a large group. I just want to meet with a few colleagues to get their ideas, input, and suggestions for future direction. My colleagues like what I have done so far and suggest I next pursue the question: How can I modify the activities in the technology club to appeal to girls?” A couple of colleagues volunteer to help me with the next phase of my research…Looks like my individual efforts will become collaborative.From this description of the process, this teacher noticed a change was needed, like membership in the technology club, and some questions were asked. From this concern, a review of the research was done. Then a design for collecting data about what was working or not working was planned and carried out.The data were collected, analyzed, and shared with colleagues. This same skeletal approach is used in all formative action research (research for action).Example 2 – The thought process during an action research project (School Administrator):(If you are not a school administrator, you may assume the role for purposes of the assignments, or you may be able to function as a school-wide leader informally for purposes of the assignments.) The goal of the scenario is to help you better understand the process of thinking through an action research project to help you determine a problem (issue, concern, need) and question for your action research. It is written in the administrator’s voice using “I” to reflect the thinking process. It is not an example of an action research paper, but rather the thought process during the project. See the Formative Action Research Paper Outline as a guide to writing your actual paper.I am the assistant principal at my school, and I have been concerned about the majority of students in Ms. Romero’s class not passing the language arts portion of the spring state exam, while the students in Ms. Garcia’s class had a 95% passing rate. I’m asking myself, “Why did more students achieve a higher state exam pass rate in Ms. Garcia’s classroom than Ms. Romero’s?” To answer the question, I decide to engage in individual action research that has a descriptive purpose. I just want to learn more as a first step toward answering my “Why?” question. I anticipate at least coming up with hypotheses that can be further tested.My initial inquiry using observation and interviews reveals Ms. Romero isn’t using formative assessments while Ms. Garcia is using formative assessments and a pacing guide. I have in mind the hypothesis that one or both things may be causing the score difference, so I am adding a more specific question to my general one: “How does teachers’ use of formative assessments and pacing guides impact student performance on spring state exams?” Since my action research is exploratory and descriptive, I don’t want to let the hypothesis limit my investigation, but it gives me an additional focus as I search the research literature for relevant information.My prior knowledge and related search of the research literature shows that using pacing guides ensures that all required standards and indicators are covered before the spring state exam. Additionally, formative assessments help teachers use data to drive their instruction. In my search, I discover other possible explanations for the score difference and find studies that may be helpful in planning my own data collection and analysis. I’m giving thought to differences between the two teachers in terms of personality, years of experience, relationships with students, extent of collaboration with peers, etc.After collecting information from the literature and pondering what I know about the teachers, I map out a data collection plan to answer my general research question and the more specific one about formative assessments and pacing guides. I know that I have to complete this phase of my research in four weeks, so I decide to collect qualitative data from three sources. I will survey teachers to find out who is using formative assessments and pacing guides, engage with teachers who are using formative assessments to obtain information on how they are driving their instruction, and interview teachers who are using pacing guides to determine how this impacts their planning.After collecting the data, I use the technique recommended for organizing qualitative data: I focus on the words or phrases expressed during the research collection process to look for patterns and themes. (NOTE: If I had used a quantitative, or numeric, source, I would have displayed my data in a table or graph.) From the organized data, several patterns or themes emerge. Teachers say that by using formative assessments and pacing guides, they are able to apply the data and standards to drive their instruction, so they can better support students. I find their stories about differentiation for individuals based on formative assessment data compelling, particularly the qualitative data. Information about the use of pacing guides strikes me as less compelling.After summarizing the patterns and themes, I compose a one-page summary of my research results. At this point, I am not ready to share my findings with a large group. I just want to meet with a few colleagues to get their ideas, input, and suggestions for future direction. My colleagues like what I have done so far and suggest I pursue the question: “How can I share these findings with teachers who are not utilizing formative assessments and pacing guides? What types of professional development might I offer?” “How can I evaluate the effectiveness of the PD and the increased use of formative assessment?” “How can I design the next round of action research, so I can test the hypothesis about formative assessment increasing test scores and make a cause-effect inference?” A couple of colleagues volunteer to help me with the next phase of my research, so it looks like the next phase of my action research will be collaborative.
Requirements: .doc file | Research Paper | 5 pages, Double spaced