Summary by: Courtney Snyder
The authors of this article reveal the positive outcomes that emerged when their graduate students implemented action research during their course titled, “Teachers as Researchers”. The focus of the action research was to explore how teachers can enhance their teacher-student relationships through these three ways: a) establish more personal relationships with students, b) develop a better understanding of students as learners, and c) give students a voice in the classroom. (Rogers et al., 2007) The article details how three teachers used action research to explore each of these themes. I will share the following summaries of how two of them used action research during their course.
Rachel was an art teacher who asked the question, “How does Anna’s culture affect her art and what influences her artistic ideas?” Rachel began establishing more personal relationships to help gather data for her questions. Rachel used several methods to gather her data. She shadowed Ana and attended events with Ana and her friends. She also interviewed Ana and her parents. She expanded the research by doing this with several other students in her class. Her research snowballed into a class project where students did research on each other, similarly to what Rachel had done for her action research project. The final project was a book written by the class about the people in the class. The outcome of her action research was best described by Rachel herself:
…During the course of this research project, the focus has shifted to the students themselves—me learning about them and about them learning about each other.
Jim was a high school teacher who wanted to know more about his students as learners. He specifically wanted to know why his students struggled with math assessments. He collected numerical data using two control groups. One group was given a multiple choice test while the other was given the same test but with open response instead of multiple choice. After he gathered the data, he noticed the multiple choice test takers did far poorer than the open response group. He interviewed students in the multiple choice group and discovered that students were more worried about getting an answer that was a choice or close to a choice rather than demonstrating their full understanding through open response. Jim’s outcomes helped him realize that action research leads to greater student participation, less student resistance, and more fertile contact with student thought and experience. (Rogers et al., 2007) Overall, Jim had a better understanding of his students as learners and planned to change the way he related to his students. (Rogers et al., 2007)
Overall, 81 of the 114 teachers in this course, identified that “including the child in the curriculum” as a significant outcome (Rogers et al, 2007) and this is well described in the three examples from their article. The authors/instructors go on to declare that “the power of action research lies in its ability to require teachers to interact more often, and in new and qualitatively different ways, with their students.” (Rogers et al, 2007). These two concluding points from the authors really hit a homerun when establishing a title for their article, “It’s about the kids”
Action research provides all teachers with a unique, personal, and critical view of their own teaching that can only lead to positive outcomes. I think that anytime we look at how we can improve something, communication is at the top of the list. The teachers in this program opened up lines of communication to their students as well as their parents.
Action research really excites me when I think about how this can be used in my own classroom, as well as in my building and even at the district level. If administrators used this to find out more about their teachers, teachers would feel more involved and valued in their thoughts and ideas. Couldn’t we all use a good dose of respect when decisions are being made that directly affect us teachers?
Rogers, D., Bolick, C., Anderson, A., Gordon, E., Manfra, M., & Yow , J. (2007). It’s about the kids. transforming teacher-student relationships through action research. Clearing House, 80(5), 217-221.