How can a teacher kickstart action research in their classroom?
These three methods are a simple and highly effective model for teachers to develop action research. You can learn more in Just Great Teaching and discover implementation ideas in a practical training day.
What about classroom research?
With the rise of research influencing education, we need to also raise the profile of action research in the classroom. The challenge for all teachers is how to do this in the busy nature of school life. Below I offer some models which can be used in two ways: a) for day to day classroom practice and b) developing as a school culture for teacher appraisal, where teachers set their own targets – a process alien to some schools, which I am pleased to report, is slowly evolving in schools.
1. Where to start?
You may want to consider using the 5 Minute Research Plan as a framework, but here are a set of simple questions to consider:
- Who? Which student names crop up time and time again? Which students are rewarded the most? Which have few rewards and no behaviour incidents and are generally off the radar? Find a method for identifying a group of students.
- What? Search for proven programmes to improve, for example, behaviour from nearby schools or organisations that can support particular groups of students.
- When and where? On which day and at what time should this intervention occur, and in which space?
- How? Which intervention and adult is best suited to the child?
- What next? What impact has the intervention had and what progress has been made?
Download these two research templates from the resources section of this website…
2. Accessing research better
- Sign up to your subject association’s magazine or the Chartered College of Teaching. This subscription will give you access to research beyond paywalls.
- Organisations such as BERA, BELMAS, the EEF, NESTA and various think tanks and other popular organisations offer useful newsletter subscription and do make a difference!
- Use apps such as Pocket – brilliant for reducing workload and our inbox – to save any interesting articles you come across and would like to read when you find the time.
- Try Audible to listen to books on the move and subscribe to an ever-increasing range of teacher podcasts.
- If you are starting to consider a master’s or doctoral degree, consider using plugins on your internet browser such as Mendely, Zotero and Google Scholar to save, access and offer citation.
Research tips video for teachers
3. Conducting your own research
Once you’ve started reading up on research relating to teaching and learning and incorporating some ideas into your teaching practice, you might want to conduct your own action research project on a specific area that interests you. Here is an excellent framework Mark Quinn (UCL) and I provided to fourteen teachers who took part in our Verbal Feedback Research Project.
- What do we know about current practice?
- What types of evidence can we gather?
- What evidence can we gather that will be valid?
- What will be an efficient way of measuring change?
- What should the final outcome be?
- What types of evidence are currently available?
- How do we test them for validity and reliability?
- What are the pitfalls of evidence collection?
- How do we collect evidence without it adding to teachers’ workload?
- What ethical risks should be considered when collecting the data?
- What tentative claim could we make once you have your focus and evidence and you are starting to trial ideas?
- What is your evidence currently saying?
- What is expected, unexpected, overheard and contrary evidence?
- How can you transfer this knowledge from research and development?
- What do we know about effective professional development in this area?
- How can your research and development align with this professional development?
- How can you share and celebrate your findings?
Later this week and using the above, I will be publishing some research conducted with UCL to answer the Verbal Feedback research Project question: ‘To what extent does verbal feedback improve student engagement among disadvantaged pupils in Year 7 or 8?’ It may help shape the marking narrative…