News and Events / Blogs / Dear teachers, Action it!
Dr. Emad A. S. Abu-Ayyash
Faculty of Education
“I have to do something about it!” – A teacher’s inner voice when facing an issue that needs to be resolved. The question remains: What should I do and how should I do it? Simple: Go for action research, dear teachers; action it!
Action research is a handy tool and a powerful vehicle for improvement at the school level as it seeks to change and transform certain practices, understandings and conditions with the aim of solving specific problems and improving practice. What distinguishes action research from other types of research is that it is about, in and for your own school, dear teacher. When it comes down to an issue you are facing in your own class, action research is probably one of your best options. Broad-scale research may give insight and deepen understanding about a vast array of educational issues and problems in diverse contexts, but action research is a practical way to go about a problem that you are encountering in your own class.
New types of problems have come to the fore when the teacher’s desk has become the campus, and the small circles with students’ initials have become the class. Nevertheless, it does not seem wise to downplay the role of technology in education. In fact, a good host of studies has reported positive impact of technology on learners’ performance and achievement in a variety of subjects and in diverse contexts. Still, one can rightly claim that many issues arise with online education. These issues include inter alia: lack of engagement, delayed responses to questions, boredom, backsliding, and inattentional blindness. A fact that is known to teachers is that these problems won’t just go away by themselves. These problems need to be ACTIONED at.
So, my take on this is that time is ripe, probably overripe, for teachers to wear the research hat and to undertake action research to resolve the issues linked to online education in their classes. Within the context of online education, action research can tap into whatever problematic area there is in teaching methods, learning strategies, formative and summative evaluation techniques, curriculum, motivation and engagement, only to name some.
Still not convinced? There are compelling arguments 1) that teachers become more enthusiastic and more engaged when they work on problems that they had identified themselves, 2) that teachers value teamwork and prefer working together towards their own professional development, 3) that teachers become more effective when they reflect on their work and decide (for themselves) on which aspects of their performance call for improvement, 4) that teachers wish to utilise technology in the best way possible, 5) that teachers like to focus on practical issues related to their own context, and 6) that teachers enjoy hands-on research.
Dear teachers, all of these desired attributes are well ingrained in action research; so, go ahead and action it!
Good news is: These two simple words (Action it) are not hard to fulfil. Different models have been set to address the steps necessary to undertake effective action research. Among these, the eight-step scheme suggested by Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2018) stands out among the most comprehensive models of action research. Here are the eight steps:
Step one: identification of the problem
Step two: discussing possible interventions to address the problem
Step three: Decision on particular intervention
Step 4: Plan intervention
Step 5: implement the intervention
Step 6: Monitor and record implementation
Step 7: Review and evaluate intervention
Step 8: Overall evaluation (how well the intervention solved the problem)
Action research on online education pays off in a number of ways. Firstly, it ideally solves a problem faced by teachers in online classes in a particular setting. Secondly, it is a research-based evidence, and therefore, can be replicated in some other context where similar problems are encountered. Thirdly, action research creates a climate of collaboration among the teachers. Fourthly, by doing action research, teachers develop more awareness about specific problems in online classes and more understanding of how to address them deftly and systematically.
And remember, dear teachers: It is absolutely beneficial, and illuminating, and insightful, and informative, and positive, and…, and…, and… to read research done in other contexts about online education and the issues that come with it, but it is more meaningful to address the problems you face in your own context, solve them with your colleagues and share the experience with others.
Dear teachers, have you got a problem in your online class? Roll up your sleeves, and action it!
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