Action Research

The Field-based Graduate Program in Education requires a five credit action research practicum in the place of a traditional graduate thesis. We believe that action research provides a hands-on process for professional educators in the front lines of local school communities to continually improve their practice and, as a result, become more accountable for the on-going learning of their students.

Action Research is an inquiry-based process that provides a ‘blend’ of some components of traditional research models and ‘hands-on’ connections with real students or real professionals in real classrooms! The process itself is of major importance, since it has the capacity to be individualized to any situation, whether that is specific to the teaching and/or student behaviors in a classroom to multi-year planning for an entire school.

Action research begins with the identification of an educators professional strengths as well as an area of their practice that they would like to take the the next level. The process then focuses upon the development of a vision for success and specific essential questions which need to be answered in order to lead the educator to achieve that vision. These questions then guide the type of literature and/or expertise that needs to be ‘tapped' in order to develop a plan for moving forward. That increased knowledge then translates into the creation and use of assessments or ‘data collectors’ to gather information from one’s own culture or classroom in order to continue the effort at answering those initial questions! Data or formative assessment information is then objectively reflected upon and analyzed to determine the action steps required for improvement. The process constantly asks the action researcher, “Why am I doing this? What assessment information or data supports my actions? What else do I need to know?” As a result, change becomes much more intentional and purposeful instead of a cyclical ‘fad.’

Those having experienced the action research process have consistently commented on its strength as a vehicle for both personal and professional change.