Action Research is an inquiry process which examines a particular problem or issue, puts a series of actions in place and reflects upon the implementation of the action to determine success or failure.
Action Research allows us to engage current research, but is mostly focused on improving practice in our own local setting. According to DEC Action Research guidelines the process is made up of four main stages: planning, acting, observing and reflecting. Planning involves identifying an issue, examining similar projects and secondary sources, developing questions and methods. Acting involves trialing a change in practice, collecting evidence and adjusting the project if required. Observing involves analyzing the evidence, disseminating information and writing a report. Reflecting involves evaluating the process, implementing the findings and revisiting the process.
While a formal action research project can be labour-intensive, and time consuming, most decision making and leadership of teams should incorporate most of these elements anyway, even if just informally.
Running your action research project
Designing roles and tasks for your team.
Explore the Professional Standards for Teachers. Use the standards to help you identify the tasks and roles for the group. Consider that while you may have some very experienced staff members on your team, there may also be beginning teachers, or those who are already overstretched. Create opportunities that cater for a range of staff.
Choose a standard that is relevant to your leadership opportunity, and explore it at each level.
Explore the standards here:
Use the standards and your responses to the questions above to plan out your team's activities over an extended period. Ensure that you provide opportunities for staff at different levels of the careers.
Action Research is a great way to undertake whole school projects to improve outcomes for students while also providing opportunities to build teacher capacity and provide opportunities for staff to address the standard at various levels.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.