All 2 entries tagged Action
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July 26, 2016
A Never–ending Journey
A Never-ending Journey
If I am being completely honest, I didn’t enjoy conducting my action research and then writing about it as much as I thought I would, or as much as I enjoyed writing my other post-graduate assignments (if enjoy is the right word?). Despite this, as I go into my NQT year I am almost certain I want to continue my Masters at Warwick and conduct more education-based research, just next time on an area I am slightly more interested in. I’ll give a brief explanation about my reasons for wanting to do this.
Firstly, education is such a big topic and is changing so much and so often that I’m intrigued by the fact that there is still not really any set way to do anything because, essentially, every child is different and every individual has different viewpoints, opinions and ways to do things. In addition, to bring the politics in, every Government wants to bring different ideas to the education system. I’m baffled by the scope of educational research out there and think it is exciting that everything works differently in a different context.
In the light of this, I would love to look at action research on a larger scale and in a familiar context, to try and tackle a specific problem and see its impact and how exciting it can be. One of the students involved in the action research I undertook achieved a positive outcome from my intervention, and the more I think about it, the more I realise how interesting tracking this was. Moreover, it was fascinating to see how the rich qualitative data that I collected from student interviews and questionnaires gave me such an insight into how the project had an impact on students.
Secondly, I wasn’t fully engaged in the action research project I undertook primarily because I didn’t find the topic overly interesting. This meant that reading around the topic became quite a painful experience and I got to the point where I felt some of the literature was stating the obvious. I would like, next time, to choose a topic that engages me more and makes me want to read on. Furthermore, after completing my own action research I feel like I would take more notice of the analysis and discussion sections within the articles I read next time. Although I don’t really want to admit it, I had a tendency to skip these and simply focus on the literature review and the conclusion. I feel that now I’ve done my own action research, and understand it more, I’d be able to find the relevance in those, actually vital, sections.
Thirdly, I want to push myself to find a way to implement something in the classroom that isn’t bogged down by data gathering but still produces results at different intervals. This would mean further researching tools to consider the best way to undertake an intervention. I found that making students fill out something every lesson was definitely not the best way to evaluate, as they just wrote something without really thinking about it, so I doubt the reliability of some of the data I have collected. I’m aware that action research is a continuous reflective, looping journey and, although I don’t really want to do any more research on the project that I have undertaken this time, I’m very aware that I could work to find ways to refine it to develop it further.
To put it simply, I would definitely like to continue to engage in research. As a teacher, I see my own learning journey as continuous and ongoing. For some this may be frustrating, but for me, it is very exciting.
July 17, 2016
Making students of teachers
Action Research: Making Students of Teachers
As part of the PGCE course, I have had to complete an Action Research project. What is Action Research, some of you might ask? In the simplest terms, it’s where you investigate a particular aspect of teaching and learning, so that both you as a practitioner and your students can improve. In my school, I noticed a particular issue concerned with the autonomy of my Year 12 group, who as lovely and bright as they all are, had no idea how to reflect and improve on their own learning. I began to wonder how we as a school could best prepare our A-Level students for the level of independent study that the majority of them will inevitably undertake at University-level, and to provide them all with a sense of responsibility over their learning and progression. Thus, I devised a simple and (what I presumed would be) effective intervention which invited my students to set their own learning targets at the end of every lesson, for a period of six lessons.
The result? Not life-changing, I’m afraid to admit. I wasn’t measuring for academic progression in such a short time-frame, so for all you mathematicians and scientists, I have no solid data. However, the research taught me a lot about my teaching, my students, and the kind of classroom environment that we like. In terms of my own teaching, I learned the value of dedicating reflection time in my lessons, and teaching my students how to reflect on their academic progress both critically and positively. I talked them through de Bono’s Six Hats Reflective Model, and they enjoyed using this process to consider their own strengths and weaknesses.
However, I also learned that at this age, my students still need my help and guidance. They suggested that, rather than setting their own targets as often as every lesson, that we dedicated time within each half-term where we sit and devise targets together, which they then have a substantial amount of time to demonstrate improvement. The class also collectively agreed that they liked the fact that the dedicated reflection time became a routine in the classroom, and it helped them to continually reflect on what they were learning over the course of each hour. For some of the less confident students in the class, they learned to consider their successes regularly, and this helped to boost their self-esteem.
Overall, my experience with Action Research confirmed to me what I had long suspected: that my students could help me to become a better teacher, as much as I can help them with their learning. Although I will admit my research did not produce any ground-breaking results, it enabled me to get to know my students, and my teaching style, better than I knew before. It is something I would recommend any teacher, either training or experienced, to undergo, as it reinforces a fundamental aspect of teaching: that we should never stop learning.