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Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research

Reflections and Advice from the Field

Series:

Heather Lattimer and Stacey Caillier

Action research can be a transformative learning experience that strengthens educators’ practice and empowers our voices. For the novice action researcher, however, it can sometimes be frustrating, isolating, and overwhelming. Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research is an outstanding companion for educators embarking on the action research journey. The book shares the collected wisdom of more than thirty experienced teacher researchers. Designed to guide readers through the research process, the book is divided into five sections that reflect critical components of action research: developing a research question, designing a plan, engaging student voice, implementing the research process, analyzing data and sharing results. Relevant for both novice and seasoned action researchers, Surviving and Thriving is perfect for use in graduate education coursework, among professional learning communities, or by teachers embarking on action research independently. The text design, which includes introductory statements and guiding questions for each section, allows the book to stand alone as a guide for action research or it can serve as an outstanding complement to a more traditional, procedurally focused action research methods textbook.

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Introduction (Stacey Caillier and Heather Lattimer)

Extract

What do you think of when you think of research? What are your experiences with research? When faced with these questions, many of us conjure up images of science labs with hypotheses to test, stacks of books and printed articles to read, and lonely hours hunched over a computer. Those of us with a humanities or social science background might describe research as a process of collecting and summarizing the ideas of others in order to build support for an argument or a recommendation. Those of us with a background in the physical sciences might describe a process of forming hypotheses, testing those hypotheses, and describing what is found in “objective” terms that require the researcher to remove him/herself from the equation. We might describe research as a process that concludes when the data or evidence has been collected and analyzed, the conclusions stated, and the implica- tions and next steps reported. Researchers’ responsibilities seemingly end here; it is the responsibility of others to implement researchers’ recommendations. In short, it is the work of practitioners, those who work in the contexts being studied, to take action and to effect change. It is not surprising, then, that for many of us educators, the concept of “action research” can at first seem like an oxymoron. Our experience has been that teachers often express excitement and relief upon learning what action research is—that it engages educators as researchers and scholars, that it is rooted in their daily won- derings and practical concerns...

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