Action research isn't about searching for information or digging into library research books, but it involves teachers systematically searching for ways to improve their skills, techniques and strategies, how things can be done better and more effectively in the classroom or school. Teachers and schools need to periodically ask what can improve the level of teaching and close gaps. This research can be done on an individual level, by a team with a group of teachers, as well as with administrators. Action research can also be initiated on a school or district level.
One topic for action research that can be initiated is how to personalize instruction to match the diverse needs of students. Each student has unique skills and needs in education. Howard Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences considers the idea that every child learns differently. Some are visually oriented; others are auditorily adept; and some do better with hands-on projects. A research project might be a fine way to instruct one student, but building a model or putting together a poster might be a better way of reaching another student. By discussing the distinctive needs of individual students at team meetings or after school within grade levels between teachers of various disciplines, a consensus on how to help individual students can be achieved.
Another action research project can be what can be done in the classroom or on the school level for parents to be more involved with their children's education. You can ask if you as the teacher are able to communicate with parents easily, and are the parents comfortable communicating with you. Do you have access to phone numbers and addresses of all parents, and, if not, how can that situation be rectified?
Another topic for action research is homework. Are students completing their homework, and if a significant percentage are not, what can the teacher or grade level team do to help parents better oversee and help with their children's homework routine? What can be done to increase the quality of their homework? Communicate with the parents to see if they are involved with the children's homework, and if they know whether or not their children are doing their homework regularly.
Electronic Devices in the Classroom and School
Some classrooms and schools have strict policies on the use of electronic devices during the school day, in the classroom, in the hallways and on school property in general. Other schools and classrooms are more liberal and adopt the attitude that as long as the student doesn't "get into trouble" and finishes his work, it isn't of importance. One grade-school principal stated that the school had declared a figurative "war on electronic devices" for texting and listening to music in the school, because these proved to be distracting to students, infringing on their ability to concentrate and do meaningful schoolwork. Examination of school and classroom policies on electronic devices, music media units and hand-held video games, then, is a potent topic for an action research activity for individual teachers, schools and even school districts.
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