What defines action research is a data driven course of action to correct a deficiency. After all that has been said and done, the concept of action research is about identifying a problem, gather some data about it, analyze that data to weed out variables, then plan to fix it. The emphasis is on fixing the problem that has been discovered; hence the ‘action’. This can be intellectualized, but regardless, the result is what matters.
I loved what Chris had to say about the reflection aspect. Reflection is a shallow term that points to a rather shallow process. I can reflect on the pot of coffee I made this morning, but there is nothing quantifiable or action related to prod or assist me into making a better pot tomorrow. Honestly, my opinion of the coffee could change from day to day. As he pointed out, reflection seems to hinge too much on opinion and not so much on data. I agree, the simple act of reflection is too subjective and is less valuable in the classroom setting. Action research calls for a deeper look with a corrective action to follow.
This is not a new invention of the wheel, but a method that has been around for a long time and has been packaged with many different names. So too in the classroom, however, the classroom has an added element. The article, “It’s About the Kids” (Rogers et al., 2007) points out that teacher conducted research is a fantastic tool that can be used to dig deeper into the lives of the students and has often been shown to develop positive teacher/student relationships. As teachers our first and foremost charge is to put our students first and learn who they are as learners. Action research is certainly a great tool to use for honing teaching skills, but I really found common ground with this line from Leslie Burdick: “With all research done in classrooms, we must make sure we are focusing on the students and how our research can improve their learning.” The students must always come first.