Action Research Project

Laurel McCartney EDUC 648 Action Research Project

Research Question

This is my first year teaching a gifted class. I have three classes of Math students. I was distressed to find that one of the classes had students who were very critical and often made unkind comments to each other. I wanted to find a strategy to implement in the classroom that would help to build a team building

approach that would result in a more positive atmosphere in the classroom.

Recently, our parish has adopted the Positive Behavior Support program that

is part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Our school has just completed In-service

on this program which also includes the Fish Philosophy and CHAMPS program.

. Therefore. I will be combining all of these in my team-building program for my class. The question that my action research project will attempt to answer will be Does positive reinforcement of group behavior influence the learning atmosphere of the classroom? This will not only be important for the academic reasons and classroom management. but also for the social/emotional attitudes of the individual students.I had already designed a program to implement in my class which I call Celebrate Success.

. The school-wide rules give a clear layout of the expected behaviors. Action Research Plan . They need to learn meaningful ways to shape their behavior. There is usually success when rules and structure are put together. I also have expectations for my classroom routines. There are different forms of token systems that have been designed as.Research Students need to control their own behaviors and become decision makers.. I have found through research that a token system can be used to address some of these issues.

Reflect¶. I would then place the students in reading and language arts in the morning for a semester.) Initially. and writing in the afternoon during the first semester of school. I would look at previous data collected by researching scholarly journals. I would place the students in math. and reading/language arts in the afternoon. which includes a literature review of previous scholarly work as well teaching math in the morning for one semester. This understanding must be meaningful and applicable to their everyday lives. writing. I would have the students learn math in the morning. Using scientific research. I would then. and then evaluate how well the students learned using standardized testing. Students would then be able to apply this understanding to other situations. Being able to assess for deep understanding. In this scenario.Action Research Plan We all want our students to do their best. The action research model will be based on µPlan. I would place the students in reading. social studies. and writing in the morning. I would have the students learn reading. language arts. I would then evaluate how well the students learned through standardized testing. Action Research Outline. Act. means being able to teach for deep understanding. Action Research . Does the time of day effect how well a student learns? Is morning or afternoon more compatible with analytical thinking? What about creative thinking? To find out these answers. and social studies in the afternoon during the second semester of school. but also the teacher¶s job. science. social studies. I would hypothesize analytical thinking would be better done in the morning. Observe. I would test the students on what was taught during these semesters. Using standardized tests after each semester. I would also attempt to collect data within my own school by having students learn math.Teaching For Deep Understanding 2. language arts. and math. In today¶s world where standardized testing can greatly impact not only the student¶s life. Therefore. Then I would do the fieldwork. language arts. I would attempt to discover which time was optimal for learning these different subjects. Research will be conducted over a three week period (25th March to 11th April).. whereas creative thinking would be better in the afternoon.Summary The focus area for the action research is teaching and assessing for deep understanding. science. the µplanning¶ stage of the action research will begin with the review of literature on teaching for deep understanding and quality assessments (Quality Teaching in NSW Public . During the second semester. year 4 students (aged 9-10years). I would first hypothesize. (Please note NSW school holidays are 12th April to 28th April. the question arises concerning the optimal time to teach students reading.. and science in the morning. The aim of this research is to explore teaching strategies that will assist students in their deep understanding in areas of Mathematics. The research will be conducted on thirty two.

Discussions with teaching peers will be ongoing. Kurt Lewin (1946) has been credited with the development of the idea of action research. Teacher researchers have adopted the label "action research " to describe their particular approach to classroom research. the method of data collection should not be too demanding on the teacher's time. This stage involves identifying key issues and experiences that make a difference and. or teaching as research they envision teachers extending their role to include critical reflection upon their teaching. the methodology used must be reliable enough to allow teachers to formulate hypotheses confidently and develop strategies applicable to the classroom situation. The next stage will be the acting stage where teaching strategies will be implemented into lessons followed by assessment tasks later on. Hopkins (1985) and others. Some examples of teaching as research include educators who wish to undertake research in their classrooms or schools for the purpose of improving teaching. y y . at times. The Mathematics content to be taught to students will be looked at closely to ensure complete understanding by the teacher while teaching the lesson. Where possible. Once the above information has been analysed students will then complete a questionnaire that will identify the type of learner each student is. Elliott (1991). be occurring during the previous stage also.Schools).. or to evaluate and implement an educational plan.. the class will be questioned about lessons and their understanding of the content being taught. He provides a basis for the selection of classroom research by teachers: y the teacher's primary role is to teach and any research project must not interfere with or disrupt this commitment. It often requires the carrying out of specific research projects to the exclusion of their teaching. The evolution of an action research agenda within education has been influenced by people such as Kemmis (1983). TEACHER RESEARCH Introduction Traditional educational research has limited usefulness for classroom teachers. Hopkins (1985:pp 5860) offers good advice on teacher research when he advocates the development of teacher's professional expertise and judgment. according to Gardner s Multiple Intelligences. The observation stage will. to test educational theory. A class discussion will be had where students will be asked about how they think they can learn best and what assessment tasks they think may show understanding. Ebbutt (1985). When educators talk about teacher research.

What are your broad interests in teaching and learning? What are your specific interests? What are manageable questions? Choose something you feel passionate about. 2. . student work. followed by actual data collection and analysis occurs. video or audio tape of meetings. periodically read over the evidence. Hopkins (1985:pg 63) suggests that " All you need is a general idea that something should be improved. draw or chart patterns. tests and records. Develop a plan to gain insights o Develop a time-line to gather evidence or data to examine what you are trying to accomplish/resolve/do in light of "what you do not know yet". peer coaching) interviews. Some questions you might ask . or themes across the evidence o keep logs and journals. Evidence includes such things as questionnaires/surveys. o Justify that the project is your best solution to the problem. In fact you do not have to begin with a problem. metaphors. o Decide what evidence you want to collect.e. video and audio tape transcripts. Your general idea may stem from a promising new idea or the recognition that existing practice falls short of aspiration. personal journal. by noting images.y y y the teacher should be committed to the research problem under study. code data from themes and patterns. Decide on a focus o Start with autobiographical data by locating your best professional self. Often the hardest part in classroom research is deciding on a focus. try to summarize what you have learned as you go. etc. and any new questions. planning for data collection. Analyze the data by looking for patterns. teachers must follow ethical procedures when carrying out research. observations (video or written notes). collaborations ( i. 3. library readings. Teacher research does not require a precise hypothesis. and classroom research where possible should adopt a perspective where all members of a school community build and share a common vision." Once the focus of the research has been decided. How to Get Started on a Project Borrowing heavily from Hollingsworth (1994) and Hopkins (1985) I offer the following practical suggestions for the teacher research process: 1.

Teachers need to be supported as researchers. and obtaining approval for case studies are best discussed early on. The educational community has become increasing supportive of teacher research. For instance. . the Director of the Statewide Subject Matter Projects in California called for the documentation of evidence of change in practice at the classroom level by teachers.in an essay. to parents. students. narrative. for teachers. poetry. it may be difficult to hear "outside" collaborators talk or write about you and/or your classroom. in journals. or became worse because of changes in your practice. meeting presentation responsibilities.a journal by teachers. 2. the issues of ownership of data gathered in a school context. 4. code. At a recent meeting on science education in California that I attended Bob Polkinghorn. . Brenda Power Once teacher research is shared it allows for further action on the part of the teacher. tell how the problem changed. but consider the following as potential audiences as well: 1. friends. Examples of Action Research . A key component of Action Research is sharing what you have learned. A clear understanding of who has the final say about what happens in the classroom should be established. Even more complications arise if royalties are involved. If you have not undertaken teacher research in your classroom now is the time to try! Ownership Concerns When two or more teachers are working together perhaps in partnership with a university researcher. and by talking to peers. A number of techniques ranging from videos to formal presentations have already been suggested. video. but their experiences. 3. 4. or the broader educational community to continue. o o summarize what you learned -. particularly if they retain authorship of the paper. . at conferences. Report on what you have learned o to your colleagues. Colleagues at a staff development day Parents and students Email discussion groups (see On-line Resources) Publications from professional organizations Journals such as "Teacher Research: The Journal of Classroom Inquiry" . 5. publication authorship. poster. pattern appears in more than two types of data).o check out your understandings by triangulating evidence (same theme. didn't change. their students and district documents may also need protecting.

edu/x23708. When comparing CHS to Pearson High School (PHS). Norma Rodriquez at San Antonio Elementary School. a very similar district within the same (ERG). Two illustrations of on-going teacher research projects where teachers are engaged in exploring ways to increase inquiry based science instruction in the classroom come from CSP-SENA (California Science Project .0 percent lower. A summary .Science Education Network Academy): y Merle Boxill (Chemistry) and Sandy Waston (Biology) at Andrew Hill High School.goucher. CHS performance exceeded the state average by 3. http://www. San Jose are exploring how to introduce open-ended inquiry science into their teaching.2 percent for 2002. Teachers who want to bring about such systemic reform in science teaching are now engaging in research into their own practice and sharing the outcomes with others. CHS shows a steady decline in CAPT science scores with the most recent results 16.xml SAMPLE ACTION RESEARCH OUTLINE Research Question Is the poor performance of tenth graders on the science section of Casey High School (CHS) CAPT over the 2000 to 2003 period related to a lack of required skills development in curriculum or practice testing strategies? Project Research Initial Findings: Data was collected 2000 through 2003 Connecticut Mastery Scores and Connecticut Aptitude Performance Tests (CAPT) data for Casey Hill School (CHS). CHS performed significantly worse than PHS science CAPT scores. Burlingame has explored how to involve more writing and female participation in her chemistry classes y y Such grass roots efforts are what are needed to bring about systemic reform in science education. Compared to their economic resource group (ERG). fell short of the state average by 10. San Jose is exploring ways to increase inquiry based science instruction at her school site for all students (not just her own class).The science standards have become a focus of reform for many science teachers. however. Carolyn Csongradi at Burlingame High School.6 percent for the year 2001.

ERG 5.00 CHS v.00 (16.00 49.20 .00 CHS v.00 61.00 0. A detailed analysis of CAPT scores is provided in Table 2 (Appendix A).00 33.00) (16.40 43.00 49.00) CHS Science State Science 48.00 47.00 47.00 37. Table 1 1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 CHS Science PHS Science 48. PHS 11.00 33.00 47.00 (14.00 47.00) CHS Science ERG Science 48.00 33.analysis of CAPT scores are shown in Table 1 below.00 43.30 43.00 37.

which is presented below. Integrating PHS teacher knowledge across the science curriculum is encouraged. Offering more analytical courses to earlier grade levels may also contribute the preparedness of students for CAPT. PHS teaches Physics to sophomores while CHS teaches the course to seniors.g.CHS v. CAPT Practice Preparation: PHS has a solid multiple year baseline data that has tracked state CAPT results and individual performance on practice tests. As a result. State 10. practice test design and quality of overall freshman and sophomore CAPT preparation.. This can be a factor in classroom instruction.60 (10. however. For example. Chemistry also include a lesson component about the composition and of rocks). Teacher Experience: Teachers in the PHS is substantially more in years than at CHS and several have a broad science knowledge base that is included in core subject classes.20) My research focused on identifying differences between CHS and PHS science curriculums that may explain the significant CAPT score variances. Both freshman and sophomores are provided . Science Curriculum: CHS and PHS school districts do not have an Earth Science curriculum.70 3. Another substantial difference is the course sequence of the science curriculums. I found possible differences between CHS and PHS curriculums and CAPT testing. PHS includes a remedial Earth Science component in instruction of other courses (e.

Completion of new freshman CHS CAPT practice tests (January 30. The results of student performance of CAPT practice questions influences what curriculum content modifications are needed to address weaknesses. Activities The following summarizes activities completed at the time of writing this report: 1. For example. and how to focus on understanding what the test is asking them to do. Met with the principal. 2003). and chairperson of the guidance department at PHS and discussed methods of preparing freshman and sophomore for science CAPT (December 5. time management on lower versus higher point value questions and circling and underlining key words of questions to improve understand of what is expected is considered crucial at PHS. 4.instruction for strategic test taking using the baseline data. 2003). Testing of freshman science CAPT practice at CHS using newly designed tests in consideration of PHS test preparation methods (March. 2004). 2. Students are taught how tests are scored. CHS science teachers analyze and critiqued PHS science CAPT preparation methods (December 17. chairperson of the science department. Reviewed and discussed CHS science CAPT data with the chairperson of the science department (November. and 5. such as point values. 3. 2004). 2003). Assessment Procedure The assessment procedures used to determine the success of this project are: .

2004). 2004). and 7. 2004) 5. Initial proposal for improving CHS CAPT preparation at CHS based on findings obtained from PHS (February 6. 3. Action Research Model Establish a Baseline of Data: . 2003). Determine results of CHS freshman performance on the newly designed 2004 CAPT practice test (summer of 2004). Implementation of newly designed freshman CAPT practice tests during 2004 state testing period. Measurement of the effectiveness of practice testing strategies used for freshman and sophomores ± modifications also to be determined (beginning October. 2. 2003). Meeting with science department coordinators and teachers from various schools to discuss strategies for improving CAPT results (May.1. 4. this will begin the baseline data for future CAPT. Implementation of practice testing strategies adopted from PHS for freshman and sophomore students (October. Identification of differences and analysis of CHS and PHS science curriculums to determine what best prepares students for CAPT (January 9. 6.

The only data currently available for analysis is the state reported results. This process will begin in October. no analysis was conducted regarding areas of strengths and weaknesses that could be helpful in developing improved practice tests (e. modifications will be considered for new tests that can be implemented with the sophomores (those who took the 2004 practice CAPT) and the freshman (first time taking the 2005 practice CAPT).g. Multiple choice. 2004. Administer Interim Assessment: The newly designed freshman practice CAPT is the current interim assessment. In addition. critical thinking. CHS had virtually no school data pertaining to student performance of CAPT with the exception of state reported results. Critical data about individual freshman and sophomore performance was not collected year-to-year. Baseline Findings ± Actions: A lack of individual student CAPT practice performance data did not prevent implementing needed improvements. essay. Analyze Baseline Data: Detailed student performance for freshman will begin during the summer of 2004. which is shown in Table 2 (Appendix A). Upon completion of the scoring during the 2004 summer. etc. critical thinking. collection of individual student performance data began with the 2004 CAPT. The practice tests given to freshman in prior years were used to review questions and answers with students and were not saved or tracked.).At the initiation of this project. multiple choices. New practice test designs were implemented covering all sections in the 2004 science practice CAPT.. and essay type questions were included in order to effectively measure individual student performance. therefore. .

Summative Assessment: This will be completed in November. 2004. the influence of religion and Plato's and Aristotle's view of the universe. urban public school of about 1300 students located in San Mateo County. The class requires one year of algebra as a prerequisite and therefore contains students who are not fully representative of the school's population. 2004. Each year approximately 200 students. Conclusions from Findings: This will be completed in November. Her hypothesis development and subsequent statistical analysis are a part of Action Research. How Technology Cheats Girls by Carolyn Csongradi Abstract The project involved integrating history. but not a requirement. She shared her project at a meeting in the form of a paper. 90 students were assigned a research project which asked questions about the history of science in the context of western civilization. The students then discussed the changing roles of women in science.Interim Findings ± Actions: This will be completed in October. and science by requiring students to read about the origins of scientific thinking beginning with the Greeks. One of the goals of the project was to develop a framework for integrating information from other subjects taught at . 2004. primarily juniors. 2004. an ethnically diverse. Introduction Chemistry is a college preparatory science taught at Burlingame High School. 2004. are enrolled in the chemistry sections. During the first semester. Recommendations: This will be completed in November. Research Question Answer: This will be completed in November. philosophy.

Burlingame. No class time was devoted to the project nor were computer or library research techniques taught. This project was structured to take advantage of areas in which female students have traditionally performed well . Students were also encouraged to seek other sources of information. the required reading and related questions pointed out that historically females have been largely denied a voice in the evolution of scientific thinking beginning with the classical age of the Greeks. Information for the chart was found in a teacher prepared written summary. For the past several years. Lack of appropriate role models. A second goal was to provide a type of assignment which might encourage young women in the area of science. Design y Prior to the project. Essay questions about the origin of various scientific ideas were asked followed by a vocabulary list and historical timeline. individual students were asked to construct a chart comparing and contrasting the views of Plato and Aristotle. Additionally. No other sources were suggested.8 17. y y Project Results and Comparative Data: N = 42 males & 48 females Aristotle and Plato pre-project assignment: Average Score Out of 25 Points 47 females submitted the chart 35 males submitted the chart excluded from analysis: 7 males and 1 female who did not submit an assignment 20. history and relationships. The main project required reading a teacher prepared summary of portions of a western civilization book The Passion of the Western Mind. Students were permitted to work alone or in pairs of their own choosing for the main project. Two of the five questions required female points of view in the answers.philosophy.2 Main Project: Average Score Out of 100 Points . research has shown that females are less likely to pursue careers in the field of physical science than are males. test biases and perceptions of science as being "male domain" have been cited as reasons for this observation.

6% Final Examination: 100 multiple choice questions Average Score Out of 100 Points 48 females 42 males 56. 7 males and 1 female did not turn in the assignment and were not a part of the analysis.4% Semester Grade (1/3/96).001).0% 89. Females performed significantly better than males on the assignment (p<. .8% 89.5% Observations and Analysis: y The comparative chart of Aristotle and Plato was completed on a piece of legal size paper provided by the teacher.10 female students worked alone 15 female student worked in pairs 5 females worked with a male partner 15 males worked alone 8 males worked with a male partner excluded from the data analysis: 2 females who did not complete all the work 2 males who failed to do the project 1 female whose parent objected 2 males who did not complete all the work 91.3% 76.9% 75. Most of the charts were submitted in handwriting. Although many charts also had artistic touches which were not required or suggested. no additional credit was given.9 % 60. before including the project or the final examination: Average Percent 48 females 42 males 75.1% 87.

The computer and peripheral equipment played a key research as well as word processing role. When the assignment did not involve computer use. regardless of gender. However. particularly when introduced in the context of math classes. However. although females working alone had the best scores. their grades were significantly lower than any other combination (p<. computers are viewed as part of the male domain. This observation is true despite the fact that chemistry students began playing video games and using computers at the same average ages (9 or 11 years). but 16% of the males failed to do the work. this bias is reported elsewhere when multiple choice exams are used. philosophy and history. but reinforced the sense of male domination in science. The average final exam score was higher for males than females. While reading the projects. The computer portion of this project may have not only been a grade "equalizer". Except in the case where females worked with a male partner. when females worked with a male partner. the final project grades were statistically equal.001). an additional variable became apparent. the females not only had superior scores. References AAUW Report: How Schools Shortchange Girls. this hypothesis was not supported.com 1/25/96 .13). In the main. females reportedly give more credence to test scores than grades. Males and females were equal in semester grades prior to the final and the project scores. one difference is the fact that males are statistically more likely to be frequent users of games AND have a greater interest in on-line interactive computer research tools such as the Internet and World Wide Web. The majority found these sources very helpful. Although the difference was not statistically significant (p<.y No statistically significant differencesbetween males or females working alone or with the same sex were found in the final project grades. A follow-up survey of student computer use for this project showed that about two-thirds used on-line and/or CD ROM technology to gather information. Unfortunately. 1994 Tarnas: The Passion of the Western Mind. 1991 Carolyn Csongradi Chemistry Teacher Burlingame High School (415) 342-8971 ccsongradi@aol. 1992 Sadker: Failing at Fairness. While this is one explanation for how the females' lower test scores on the final exam can be off-set in calculating the final semester grades. y y Conclusions A working hypothesis for the design of this project had been that females should perform better than males on a project which emphasizes writing.

In 2007 staff and parents were surveyed as to the values and virtues they perceived as most pertinent to the students at Windale Public School. Peer Support lessons created to enable senior students to take leadership roles in presenting the program to students K-6. Initially values such as Kindness. A Scope and Sequence. Staff initially utilised a selection of virtues. identifying the most pertinent values and virtues within the community. they are lost. Unless we see them. was developed which ensured all stakeholders are aware of the current Virtue/ Values being taught. although like treasures. The project focused on gaining positive outcomes for students. they are always waiting to be found . staff and the community by encouraging students to display acceptable social behaviours and attitudes to each other and the broader school community.L. domestic violence and child abuse. name them and use them.Virtues and Values within the School Research Question How does a school promote key virtues and values to all stakeholders in a consistent and meaningful way? Research Overview Virtues are the gems hidden in the mind of the true self. that incorporate the Virtues/Values of the week. Research Findings y y y y The preliminary parent and staff survey provided a starting point.Popov Windale Public School incorporates a Values and Virtues program across Pre-School to Year 6. A series of lesson notes and matching teacher resources were developed. This information was then collated and a two year Scope and Sequence was designed. Courage. The NSW DET later released the Core Values for NSW Schools. Tolerance and Compassion were incorporated into the school education programs so as to provide children with guidance and purposefulness in a community stigmatised by the media as having high levels of unemployment. enable the senior students to relay them in a meaningful way to the younger students. as listed by Linda Kavelin Popov. The even year cycle of Peer Support lessons are yet to be developed. A folder with matching lessons. with a two year cycle. crime. It was decided to formalise the project and meld the two ideas together. Windale Public School was identified as a community of greatest disadvantage in NSW and Victoria by the Vinson Report. The creation of Peer Support lessons. Sample documents . listed literary resources and laminated posters for each Virtue/ Value was created for all teachers Pre-School to Year 6 ensuring the project is implemented consistently. violence.

This program appears to have been beneficial in creating a school culture of respect and improved self-image. . identifying appropriate ways that students have conducted themselves in the classroom. Data indicates a significant decrease in suspensions last year (reduced from 56 in 2006 to 31 in 2007) and continued monitoring of this and similar data would be useful in ascertaining the success of the project. students and parents are using the language of Virtues/Values in their everyday lives.y y The staff. playground and in the wider community.

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