An Introduction to Action Research
The following was a guide I composed while I was teaching high school as a way of organizing myself to begin a research project that never got off the ground.  Oh, well.  I polished this up a bit to make it more presentable, so anyone who wants to get started in this area can pick up where I left off.

About action research

What is it?

It is the study of educational phenomena in which the teacher assumes the role of the researcher rather than leaving research to academics in higher education.  Research is conducted at the level where the researcher has the greatest degree of involvement.
Why do it?
The need for action research:
1.  Benefits you as a professional, both as a classroom teacher as well as a selling point for your resume.
2.  Benefits your campus by adding to the prestige in the district by having a "teacher as research" on your campus.
3.  Benefits your profession by having new knowledge disseminated through professional journals and other publications.

About action research

Unlike standard research articles, action research is not constrained to a number of more traditional models of research.  For example:

Steps in action research Of course, it would be unwise to think of this outline as a sequence.  Quite the contrary; it is a recursive, iterative process.  Every step should require you to go back and adjust what you did before. Think of it as teaching a unit.  You don't wait until the last minute to make up the test.  During the course of the unit you look at which objectives you will test your students on, how you might word those questions, etc.  In research, do the same.

As you review the literature, it is conceivable you would find a more interesting topic, one altogether different from the one you chose at the beginning.  If it interests you, go for it.

Areas of research

If you do not have a topic already in mind, here are some example areas of research.

Research methods

Overall there are two categories of research: quantitative and qualitative.  The former refers to research in which statistical data is collected.  The latter refers to virtually everything else. Methods which fall under each of these categories may be combined to compliment one another and give the most meaningful detail to your data.

Reporting your findings
The following may be used as templates for presenting your research report.  These templates are also useful in helping to coordinate your research efforts in that they indicate areas that require attention.

Note that if you are seeking publication, check the submission guidelines in the journal(s) you are considering.  Many even illustrate the format they prefer on-line.

One possible format for research

(title page)
(center justify the following)
An Action Research Report

Title of Study





Dedication (optional)


Table of Contents
I Introduction

Purpose of research and background.

II Methods

III Results

IV Analysis

V Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations



Contact information

A sample Participant Consent Form

(This is the form I developed and used for my thesis research.  You can view the entire thesis including my completed version of this form here.)

Title of Study: xxx
Project Director: (this is the person overseeing the study; a graduate professor, for instance)
Principal Investigator: You
phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Purpose of research
A brief paragraph on what you hope to explore.

Procedures of the research
What methods you will use which will involve the participants (e.g., surveys, interviews, etc.).

Potential risks and protection of confidentiality
A statement indicating that, should the participant feel uncomfortable for any reason, he/she may withdraw participation in your research without fear of consequences.  Further, you should indicate that names nor any other identifying information will be used in the publication of your report on this research.

Potential benefits
While it is unlikely that your research will provide any direct benefit to the participants in your research, you may provide information and insight which will benefit the teaching profession as a whole.

Statement of consent

       "I have been fully informed of the above-described procedure with its possible benefits and risks and I give my permission for my participation in this study."

Signature: _________________________  Date: ____/_____/______.

Some tips
Proposal for Professional Growth and Development Form
Should you require additional time to conduct research off-campus, the following form is a very profession way of approaching a request for a personal day.  Indeed, this may count as professional development hours, depending on the nature of your research and the atmosphere of your district.


Proposed Area of Study and Time Requested
I will be going to ______ University in ______ to collect research materials for my literature review.  I will make copies/print-outs of whatever is available and bring those articles back to campus with me.

To search the databases of the library for literature.

In the short term, this review of the literature will guide my thinking about my area of research, my experimental design, and other area in which I may look in the future.  These will be collected in a working, reflective document.  In the long term, this work will be transformed into a formal research report and will be subsequently refined as an article for publication.

Approved:   _____________________________ Date: ________

Additional resources
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