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June 18, 2018

Action Research: Making Students of Teachers – Beth

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.


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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
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