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Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research

Reflections and Advice from the Field


Edited By 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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SectionTwo: Designing Action Research


Action research is demanding, complex and challenging because the researcher not only as- sumes responsibilities for doing the research but also for enacting change. Enacting change is not easy—it requires time, patience, and sound planning … —pine, 2009, pp. 234–235 So, you have your research question. You’ve identified what you want to improve. You’ve had a few interesting conversations with colleagues and advisors about your ideas, and perhaps even started to dig into the literature on your topic. Now what? This is the moment that trips many of us up. We start to wonder what types of data will help us explore our question, how to analyze that data so that we can pull some useful meaning from it, and how to integrate data collection and analysis methods into our everyday practice so that it informs our decisions and our actions (and doesn’t make us feel schizophrenic in the process). The good news is that we educators collect and analyze data every day, and use it to inform our practice, whether we are aware of it or not. We constantly observe what is going on, who is doing what, and when they do it. We sift through docu- ments, artifacts of student learning, and students’ reflections on their progress. We ask students questions and engage them in conversations, sometimes individually and sometimes in groups. We modify our instruction on a daily, sometimes hourly basis based on what we have learned about the students in our care and what will...

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