Attentive tudents raise their hands in a classroom.
Attentive tudents raise their hands in a classroom.

Classroom teachers will tell you that no one knows their students better than they do. After all, teachers spend hours each week talking with their students and understanding the unique strengths and challenges that their classroom population faces. Because of this, teachers are often on the frontline for issues that emerge in the classrooms, and they're often the best ones to conduct class research and work toward a solution to challenges in the classroom. Action research is one way that teachers do this.

What Is Action Research?

Action research is a method used to identify problems or weaknesses and to test hypothesis about how to overcome those challenges. This educational practice allows teachers to quickly and reliably understand problems within their classroom or program, in order to implement solutions that result in better functioning of the class.

What Is The Action Research Process?

Action research isn't formalized research, but it still follows a specific process. To use this method teachers or educational researchers first identify a problem. Then, they collect data on this problem, and interpret what that information might mean. Using the information they've gleaned, they develop a plan to address the problem, and implement the plan. Then, they evaluate how that solution has worked, identify any new problems that have arisen, and begin the cycle over again to address those issues.

What Are The Benefits of Action Research?

Action research can be undertaken quite easily by teachers who are close to the problem and probably have a good idea of which solutions might work. In addition, because action research happens in real time within the classroom setting, teachers can implement solutions, which can evaluated almost immediately. This can help students and schools achieve better outcomes more quickly.

What Topics Can Educators Use Action Research For?

Teachers face an array of challenges in the classroom, from absences to poor academic performance to distractions from technology. Educators can use action research to address nearly any issue that emerges within a specific school setting.

For example, a teacher might want to use action research to address high rates of tardiness in her classroom. The specific question that emerges is "Why are so many students late for first period?" When he collects data, the teacher might notice that students who come to class late are eating their breakfast. Her solution might be to offer breakfast items like fruit in the classroom.

Educators can also use action research to address academic concerns. A teacher might want to address the problem that students are behind in math. When she collects data, she might notice that only half of students complete their math homework assignments. Then, she can brainstorm and test solutions to get more kids to complete homework, and see if that has an impact on math scores overall.

Action research doesn't hold the same scientific weight as more calculated research studies, but it can be a way for teachers and educational researchers to quickly evaluate educational practices and implement changes that can benefit their students.