All entries for Monday 18 July 2016
July 18, 2016
Was I already doing research without realising it?
Was I already doing my intervention in other classes without realising it?
When I started to think about my action research project I found it very hard to try and decide what to do. My second placement was in a completely contrasting school to my first and so any ideas I had, had seemed to not really apply to my new setting. I found myself constantly looking at classes and trying to decide what the problem was, how I might tackle it and whether it would work with them – at the same time as trying to get to know a new school, names and schemes of work. In the end I settled on a year 10 GCSE Drama class that had students in it who seemed to be lacking motivation – I wondered how I could turn this around and, from my reading, discovered that self-goal setting supposedly worked to allow students to take a personal interest in the task and consequently increase their motivation.
My plan was to get the class of year 10 students to set themselves a goal every lesson and reflect on it in that lesson and then, suddenly, they would become super-motivated, get lots of work done and be amazing. This proved a lot harder than I thought. Ironically, I found it hard to motivate them to even set a goal every lesson as they didn’t really see any purpose in it. It therefore became a challenge to do an intervention on motivation when my students were not motivated to do something that was attempting to motivate them. I’d been told at the end of my second placement that I needed to take more risks. I found myself really grateful, though, that I hadn’t taken a risk to do this 6 lesson intervention with a class of 30 boisterous year 8s, or even worse, 30 year 9s who had already chosen their options for GCSE and so didn’t see any point in trying in my lessons any more – these classes may have also needed a boost in motivation but I think their motivation to complete the intervention would have been even less.
Despite this, as I moved further through the intervention, I started to realise that I was actually embedding a similar idea in my other lessons, just calling it a different name and not using it for, what I thought, was the same outcome. As part of the whole school initiative and as part of my knowledge gained from University sessions I had been getting my students to set themselves targets on a regular basis. The difference was, I was expecting these targets to work to improve their skills and encourage reflection to help them understand their learning, not improve their motivation. Also, I was calling them by a different name – targets, not goals.
This made me realise that, maybe, my intervention wasn’t having an impact on my teaching in any other areas because to an extent, I was already doing it. I was scared to take it further because I wasn’t seeing the impact on the year 10s and I couldn’t see an impact on motivation in any other classes when they were setting themselves targets.
Another interesting point that made me think about my practice: at the end of my action research project, 10 of the students involved said they prefer the teacher setting them goals than self-goal setting. I really started to think about the reason for this and wondered if it was better for them as I am the one that holds their data and the knowledge about the course. However, I came to the conclusion that it should be a two-way process; that I should continue to share their data and say what I think they need to do, but also get them to reflect and think about where they need to go next, because if they don’t, they are never going to learn how to do it on their own and motivate themselves to succeed.
Something positive that has come out of my action research project is the impact an intervention can have on one single student. Out of 11 students that I did the intervention with, one student came out at the end saying she was more motivated, that she found self-goal setting really helped to push herself and her work actually showed a huge improvement in terms of the detail and focus that was put into it. This is really exciting and, although this action research hasn’t necessarily affected my teaching practice to a great extent, it has taught me a lot – I look forward to the next one.
Research … what’s Research???
What effect conducting a research project with my students had on my practice. A trainee’s personal reflection.
What on earth could I implement in my class, in a well-established school with ‘outstanding’ teachers that would have anything but a negative impact on learning? How could I, six months into training, devise a teaching technique that would make a difference or change the way we approach our lessons? How I could I compete with the likes of Vygotsky and Piaget, when I could barely even say their names?
These are the manic thoughts of a trainee about to embark on what seemed like the most challenging assignment of the year. Why did I think like this? I guess it was because I’d never done anything like this before, it was the fear of the unknown. I’d written essays, assignments, done practicals, and presented but never had I implemented or completed a research project.
I soon realised this wasn’t about me re-inventing the wheel, this was about having the chance to implement a technique, style or method that I hadn’t had chance to try out before, whilst being able to monitor and record its effect on my practice.
As a trainee I have done this all year round, such as experimenting with different teaching methods etc. It’s what we’re told to do. But did I read up on these techniques before? Did I understand where these methods had come from and why, and the context they worked in?
This light-bulb moment inspired my ideas, this realisation allowed me to start the reading into my theme (behaviour) as well as research methodologies and the theorists behind them. This literature review enhanced my previous study, giving me a greater understanding of their validity, influence and value in the classroom. [AM1]I was able to understand the context in which these theories were developed and why. What conditions these methods had been tested in, and more importantly why these factors were important in the outcomes of the interventions.
Behaviour had always been of interest to me, but for the first time since I’d started my course, the reading felt natural. It linked to my practice and enabled me to understand what variables would help/ hinder my intervention.
I found Google Scholar to be amazing for this as well as my Universities library online books and resources collection. As obvious as it sounds, searching key words e.g. ‘Behaviour, Rewards, Journals/ Research/ Theories’ pulled so much reading I struggled to keep on top of it. That’s where ‘document search’ came into play, by searching individual documents for my key words I was able to get to relevant sections straight away without wasting time.
Tip: Look up the references in books and journals so you can see their sources directly. You can then use these to influence your own reading.
The intervention itself lasted six weeks and consisted of embedding a ‘5,4,3,2,1’ count down which results in students collecting VIVOS (rewards) for beating the teacher to ‘0.’ The aim was to reduce LLD in the Art Classroom. The countdown was utilised to stop the class for instruction, behaviour management, and demonstrations.
The points were then collected over time and linked to various rewards. Conducting my intervention was just like any other method I had tried and tested in my classroom, the hard part was getting its impact captured in data form for analysis. That’s where fellow trainees came in and in the end was no extra work at all. Helping each other out meant we were all able to get the data we needed from people who understood what we were trying to achieve.
It actually turns out my intervention was successful in lowering low level disruption in the Art Classroom, allowing me to continue its use in the classroom.
By using an action research approach, I have captured data which validates it impact. Being able to back up my findings with data has meant that this technique has now also been rolled out across the department. This gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction and pride, not just in my work but also the fact that a shift has taken in my department away from sanctions towards positive reinforcement.