Magazine article Montessori Life

Connecting Action Research to Montessori Practice

Magazine article Montessori Life

Connecting Action Research to Montessori Practice

Article excerpt

If one goal of educational research is to provide evidence-based practices, teachers need a mechanism to address everyday questions about teaching and learning. To answer these questions, teachers benefit from using a tool that improves their teaching effectiveness and student learning: action research. Action research systematizes data collection and reflection to produce practical knowledge (Mills & Gay, 2016). While the majority of educators practice some type of reflection, their reflective practices may or may not result in changes in the classroom. The steps of action research ensure that teachers systematically implement and evaluate a change in response to an everyday problem or concern (Elliot, 2015). Reflection during the evaluation component gives teachers an opportunity to review data and draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the change; if the change was not effective, then teachers may repeat the cycle, implementing another potential solution. Maria Montessori practiced the action research cycle when formulating her philosophy. "She taught us to observe children objectively and to make changes to our environment, curriculum, and relationships to better support their learning in all domains," explains Gay Ward, who mentors students conducting action research projects in the Montessori Graduate Program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (personal communication, November 1, 2016).

The Montessori environment is uniquely suited to action research. By training, Montessori teachers are observers and data collectors. Action research offers a focus for these efforts and empowers teachers to make practical, meaningful changes in the classroom. Since action research is participatory, the research and the knowledge produced are controlled and owned by the community in which it is conducted (Baum, MacDougall, & Smith, 2006). …

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