‘Action Research’ simply means ‘learning by doing’. It is a method in which one studies their actions and reflects upon them to improve. Action Research, when conducted in schools, can empower teachers to identify problems within the classroom and build a solution around it.
As the first step, a teacher identifies a focus area which is essentially a key issue in his or her classroom. The teacher discusses this focus area with the School Leader (school head/ principal) to seek their support. The teacher then looks for evidence using classroom data such as test scores, classroom observation, survey to ensure that the focus area is relevant. The next step is to plan action steps or strategies on the focus area and adopt changes into regular practice. After the strategies are implemented, the progress is checked after a definite period, and results are discussed with the School Leader.
To understand this better, let us look at an instance where a school implemented the Action Research method. Ms Bhagya Lakshmi, a teacher from TSWRS, Mittapalli identified ‘vocabulary & speaking skills’ as her focus area under the ISLI Action Research project. Ms Bhagya Lakshmi conducted a pre-test to check speaking level of students. Out of 40 students in her class, few students could not speak English fluently, and few could not speak at all. The School Leader R. Prasanthi helped the teacher devise an action plan, and provided resources for the same. As part of the strategy, the teacher used a visual description such as a picture of animals and asked students questions to check their knowledge of words, vocabulary and sentence formation. Later, the teacher used charts, flash cards to help students learn about the action words, adjectives, nouns, singular, plurals etc. The results were shared with School Leader, and the future plans were discussed.
In essence, the Action Research method helps teachers make informed decisions and improve their teaching. Teachers become more reflective with a better understanding of the impact of their teaching on student learning. With more and more teachers and School Leaders focusing on the process of self-improvement, they can share their findings and learn from each other. This is very important for a school that is continuously growing and strengthening their practices constantly.
Hence, if structured carefully, Action research enables School Leaders and teachers to become knowledge makers rather than just knowledge users. It provides a support network in the school so that everyone can benefit by sharing their learning.