Teachers Investigate Their Work: An Introduction to the Methods of Action Research

Teachers Investigate Their Work: An Introduction to the Methods of Action Research

Teachers Investigate Their Work: An Introduction to the Methods of Action Research

Teachers Investigate Their Work: An Introduction to the Methods of Action Research

Synopsis

Action research is one of the most popular methods of professional development for teachers. It provides a practical way for teachers to uncover some of the complexities of the teaching process and thereby to improve the quality of their pupils' learning. Teachers Investigate Their Work introduces the methods and concepts of action research through examples drawn from studies carried out by teachers. The book is arranged as a handbook with numerous sub-headings for easy reference and 41 practical methods and strategies to put into action, some of them flagged as suitable 'starters'. Throughout the book, the authors draw on their international practical experience of action research, working in close collaboration with teachers. Teachers Investigate Their Work is an essential guide for teachers, senior staff and co-ordinators of teacher professional development who are interested in investigating their own practice in order to improve it.

Excerpt

The reader is just opening this book, slowly reading the first lines and starting to build up an impression of what may be contained in the following pages. How can we give this reader an idea of the book's importance for us, and what has driven us to devote energy to writing it over a long period of time (which we could easily have spent on easier jobs)? These are the wistful thoughts of many authors sitting in front of a manuscript which has achieved a certain status-or at least size-through being written, rewritten and finally polished. It is now to be given the last finishing touch: the introduction, which will introduce some key ideas and whet the reader's appetite to read on.

We have decided to tackle the introduction in a particular way. We want to recount some personal experiences that convinced us of the importance of this approach to research: specifically, research conducted by teachers in order to develop their own practice. Maybe, like us at the time, you will wish to learn more. If so, it is the purpose of this book to satisfy your curiosity.

In the early 1980s we were all three strongly influenced by the work of the Teacher-Pupil Interaction and the Quality of Learning Project (TIQL) in which teacher-researchers investigated what it means to understand a subject or a topic and how pupils' understanding can best be developed through classroom work (see Ebbutt and Elliott 1985). They investigated this question in their own classrooms, shared their experiences, tried to identify and explain common and contradictory findings, developed and experimented with new teaching strategies, and wrote case studies of their work. Although we had different connections with the project-as a project teacher (Bridget Somekh) and as interested observers (Herbert Altrichter and Peter Posch)-for all three of us it was an important landmark in our professional development. The teachers' research provided us with new insights into the process of teaching and learning: it paid much closer attention to details and practicalities than other kinds of research; and it probed the differences between stated aims and actual

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