Action Inquiry/Professional Inquiry into Action in the Classroom

I have just been thinking about how scattered my own thinking and learning is sometimes. I know this happens when I have no formal (that doesn’t mean it has to be institutional, but can be self-guided) structure guiding me.

Now, for the next year, action, international-mindedness, and inquiry-based teaching and learning are three big ideas that the school is looking at.

Taking these three big things, and splitting them up seems quite a good idea. Action, which I always put towards the end of my priority continuum, has moved up considerably with such an action-rich Unit of Inquiry that just ended.
Moving into an inquiry into “How the world works” and “How we express ourselves” with central ideas that not so obviously spark my ideas about student-initiated action, I think action could be a nice little inquiry project for myself.

However, working alone is not fun. I can ask my colleagues, and invite them to join me in this project, and I can reach out to educators around the world.

Following my good old action research structures, I am thinking about a proposal, using the format I used at university as well. (see the end of this post)

I really do think this would be a worthwhile exploration, and not just within my own school, but on a broader scale too. I would like to hear from you what literature you recommend on Action? What questions are worth exploring? Would you like to participate?

When school starts, I will propose this to the head of the school and invite those teachers who are interested to join me one afternoon a week to work on this. Depending on who is interested, we might even find the time to do this during lunch time.

Action Inquiry Proposal

1. An Action Inquiry into developing my understanding and enabling of student-initiated action

2. Rationale – to be worked out

3. Indicative Literature List – any suggestions?

4. Research Questions

What is student-initiated action and how can I identify it?

How can I enable all students to act?

……. more

5. Methodology (this bit is taken from my dissertation proposal)

My chosen methodology is action inquiry, which is qualitative in nature. My interest is to gain an insight into the “why” and “how” of phenomena, rather than statistical information (Bell 2005), which is the main focus of the “what”, “where” and “when” approach of scientific research. Traditional methods like this do not take place in real-world situations, but are undertaken by scientists, who research for the general public, or an organisation. They are trying to explain something external (McNiff, Lomax and Whitehead 2003).
Action inquiry is a research method that is about people, internal and real-world situations, and qualitative data is of great importance to the researcher.

My inquiry is concerned with my own professional development through improvement of my own practice. An action inquiry approach is suitable as I aim to learn from my experience. The cyclical approach will allow me to collect, analyse and reflect on data on implemented change to my practice. This is how I will inform further changes, making action inquiry emergent and unpredictable.

The strengths are apparent: I, as the practitioner, will be the centre of my own research in order to enhance my own practice. Following the notion of action inquiry being participatory, I will include my colleagues, not only in my data collection, but also as critical friends and in sharing positive results and good practice.

Action inquiry is subjective and bias is one of its main weaknesses. As outlined in data collection and analysis, I aim to eliminate those as best as possible by applying triangulation, and gaining a wide perspective through submitting my data for peer review. I will be critical in evaluating my findings and apply reflection. Furthermore, I will add rigour and validity to my research by reviewing current literature throughout.

I have chosen to follow Lewin’s action research model for this inquiry.

This inquiry is self-directed and will allow more time for planning, which made the Lewin model attractive for me. Although the step of reconnaissance has always been important, it has not been mentioned specifically. This year I will use this step to gather information in more detail before implementing an action. I will use my findings and reflection, as well as current literature and research as a basis to inform further changes to my practice.

Lewin is seen as the person to have coined the term ‘action research’, involving the steps of planning, action, observation and reflection, the general frame for reflective action research.

6. Ethical Considerations (this bit is taken from my dissertation proposal)

Ethical considerations for my research are based on the Revised Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (2004) by the British Educational Research Association (BERA).

I will gain informed consent from all participants, namely my colleagues, who will be part of my data collection and form some of my context, and my students, who are not subjects, yet form the context of my research. As they are under-age, I need to gain consent from their guardians.

The following conditions guarantees will be made to all participants:

•The research will be open and honest. I will use data collection and analysis methods, such as triangulation and structured reflection to reduce bias. I will consider and challenge personal values that may influence my perceptions and interpretations.

•Every participant has the right to withdraw from the research without penalty or giving a reason at any point during the research.

•Every participant will be protected from harm.

•Every participant has the right to confidentiality. I will not identify participants or present them in an identifiable way. This includes the school.

•Participants have the right to anonymity. By anonymity in this context I mean that no one will see transcripts of interviews, or video recordings except me, and collected data will be destroyed (deleted) after being carefully reflected on.

•Participants have the right to ask questions and express concerns at any time during the research.

7. Data Collection Methods

8. Data Analysis

9. Audience

– Myself

– My school

– Other PYP Practitioners

– Other educators

10. Resources

11. Timetable

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