Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

By Richard Sagor | Go to book overview

5 Choosing the Right Research
Questions and Assessment Criteria
I hope that by now you have decided to explore making inquiry,experimentation, and action research part of your professional routine. If so, you are about to embark on an exciting journey. Michael Fullan (1991) aptly notes that [change is a journey, not a destination.] This is always the case when engaging in action research. Because of the complexity of the teaching and learning process, it is impossible to predict, with any degree of certainty, where inquiries will ultimately lead.It is important to inquire into an issue or study a phenomenon that is particularly relevant to your work. In fact, the personal relevance of the topic is an essential prerequisite when choosing an action research focus. At Project LEARN1 my colleagues and I developed a flexible position on what constitutes an appropriate focus for teacher research. Project LEARN participants were told that an appropriate action research topic ought to meet three criteria:
It involves an issue within the scope of the researcher's authority. (Functionally this means it pertains to teaching and learning.)
It is a matter that the educator is personally and passionately concerned about.
It involves a matter on which student or teacher performance could and should be improved.

1Project LEARN (League of Educational Action Researchers in the Northwest) is a
Washington State University program. The processes used in Project LEARN are detailed in
How to Conduct Collaborative Action Research (Sagor, 1993).

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