Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And so it begins...

What I have Learned About Action Research and How I can Use It

After I began reading on the topic of action research, I realized that my school district's formal evaluation, SDAS, is a version of action research. As a classroom teacher, I am able to pick a focus question each year, collect data, and share my findings based on the information I gathered. I feel this has allowed me to gain ownership of something I want to grow in or have curiosity in trying out in my classroom rather than an administrator coming in and seeing my teaching for a 45 minute span and handing out criticism. I am thrilled to know I have been using action research as an educator without even knowing it!

The benefits of conducting action research is that the participant can gain knowledge in an area of inquiry or interest and make changes based on the outcome. This becomes a personal gain rather than an outside researcher ‘telling’ how a situation should be. The “practioner inquiry movement focuses on the concerns of practitioners and engages practitioners in the design, data collection, and interpretation of data around theory question.” (Dana, 2009, p. 3) The teacher or administrator is able to make professional changes and make a lasting impact on school environments. 

Action research differs from traditional educational research because the inquiry comes from the teacher or administrator conducting it rather than an outside expert weighing in on topics that are exclusive to everyday school environments. (Dana, 2009, p. 4) Often this causes frustration because the teachers that are actually in a school environment are receiving data from conductors who aren’t in the real life situations they are portraying insights and research models. 

I like to think of it as weather man versus a storm chaser. The weather man is off sight predicting and analyzing the situation to help prepare people or warn them of the coming weather. The storm chaser is actually in the midst of the weather or is close enough to gain an on the ground experience first hand. It would be a lot easier to trust the storm chaser who is in the storm giving feedback rather than the weather man who is off site from the storm itself. 

How Educational Leaders Might Use Blogs

Blogs are a great way to share one's ideas or thoughts to multiple readers at any given time. I think educational leaders can use this tool in more than one way. 

One way to use a blog is to send out a weekly newsletter to staff to keep everyone connected and stay in the know. This could start with thoughts on a new idea, ways to push through a difficult time in the year, or something to reflect on. It could also include milestones that staff have to celebrate, mourn, or get excited about. This creates a family atmosphere among peers.

Another way to use a blog as an educational leader is to incorporate into Professional Learning Communities (PLC). This could be away for the leader to express findings for an action research topic and have members respond through comments. It could keep members of the PLC connected all year and have an outlet to share findings and literature.

I am excited to share more on my action research topic on this blog. Stay tuned...


Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading With Passion and Knowledge: The Principal as Action Researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


  1. I absolutely love the weatherman/storm chaser analogy. It fits so well. When we engage in action research we are collecting data in the moment and subject to the changing winds in the process. Knowing when to turn and drive in another direction is something extremely important.

  2. I like the thought of using a blog to help create a family atmosphere in the work place. We all have our individual projects stresses at work; it is extremely important to find a way to keep everyone connected and focused on the bigger picture.