Studying the game: Action research in science education

Every scientist has at one time or still is a researcher at heart.  Science teachers are no different.  Most of us have been trained in our science knowledge by taking the same courses as pre-med students have.  Science is science, whether you teach it in a classroom or are using it to further build your knowledge base.  The article by John Tillotson addresses the need for science teachers to remember their roots and what they were at one point and time trained to do.  Tillotson describes teachers as being uninterested in action research because many of the topics chosen would not have direct implications with what is occurring in their real classroom.  He goes further to state that by this misconception teachers feel that they have a lower professional status as someone else who may have similar training or a similar science background, because they feel that there is nothing they can do to contribute to new instructional methodology.  Science teachers should be interested in examining their own classroom practices, putting themselves under the microscope, and gather data based on their students throughout the year and formulate their own conclusions.  Tillotson describes a 5 step action research process that most of us would find very similar to the scientific method.  This alone should bring more appeal to science teachers.  After all, most of us learn best by seeing the actual outcomes and being actively involved in coming to a conclusion.  It is also recommended that there become more collaboration between university researchers and the “grunt” teachers in the secondary field who are supposed to follow along with the research and conclusions that have been handed down to them.  More collaboration would make each party feel more invested in the outcomes.  Just with every other teacher out there, science teachers just want to provide their students with the most effective and meaningful learning experiences possible and action research can be a huge asset.  Even if our methods are slightly more “nerdy” than the average teacher, we all have our students’ best interests at heart.


Tillotson, J. (2000). Studying the game: action research in science education. Clearing House74(1), 31-34.


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