Action research. I think I have been doing a little of this my entire life. I just didn’t know it was a real thing that even had a name, a graduate level course about it, and its very own book! I have learned that action research is real, can shed light on problems/ideas, and there is a formal way it should be structured. According to Dr. Craig Mertler (2016), action research is:
“Any systematic inquiry conducted by educators for the purpose of gathering information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how their students learn.”
Action research consists of four stages: planning, acting, developing, and reflecting. Action research is cyclical which means it is ongoing and repeats itself. For this particular course (EDLD 5315) the main focus was on the planning stage of action research. Within the planning stage are four steps:
- Identifying and limiting the action research topic
- Gathering information
- Reviewing literature
- Developing a research plan
Fast forward to today. The first assignment for this class was to create an action research outline. This was a good start for me because it got me thinking about the entire process. It was like a roadmap for me to follow. Below is my Action Research outline.
Action Research Topic
Currently, I am the technology teacher at a junior high in central Texas. Our campus is lucky enough to provide a Chromebook for each student in the 6th through the 8th grade. On a daily basis, I see so many potential learning opportunities that go untapped for a variety of reasons. We are a technology-rich school and have the infrastructure for teachers to be using blended learning in their classrooms. Blended learning is combing face-to-face instruction with some sort of online learning.
There are many different forms of blended learning. My favorite is the flipped classroom approach. I love to create videos for the students to watch before the day’s class session so they can spend more time creating and less time on the actual instructions. I decided my action research topic would set out to discover why the teachers are not using blended learning in their classrooms and how I could help them get more comfortable with using the technology available to them.
Purpose of this Study
As I stated, I wanted to discover how I could help the teachers implement blended learning in their classrooms. I have read many articles on the topic. The information was synthesized in a literature review. The literature review gave me insight into possible reasons blended learning is not being used to its full potential.
Since part of the action research planning process is to narrow the topic, I decided to focus on the impact a readily available technology coach would have on the use of blended learning by teachers. Through my review of the literature, I discovered that many teachers do not use technology because they are not familiar with it, have a fear of failing if something doesn’t go as planned, or simply don’t have the time to learn new things. A technology coach would be able to help with all of these obstacles.
Fundamental Research Question
I identified and limited my topic down to this question:
Does having a readily available technology coach increase use of blended learning in the classroom?
Research Design and Methods
I plan on using a mixed method of qualitative and quantitative data for this research action plan. The qualitative data will take the form of surveys, interviews, and observations. The quantitative data will be simple occurrence tracking such as: How many times was blended learning used in a classroom and how many times did that result from technology coach assistance. This is the triangulation mixed method because both qualitative and quantitative methods will be used at about the same time in order to gain more comprehensive results.
Type of Data Collected
I will begin data collection with a baseline. This will be a survey. Exact questions are yet to be determined, but will be structured to gather this information:
- What teachers (how many) currently use blended learning in their classes
- How often is blended learning used
- What types of blended learning are being used
- What barriers are preventing teachers from using blended learning
- Lack of experience and/or knowledge
- Lack of support
- Not enough time
- What would need to happen in order for teachers to implement blended learning in their lessons
- Technology Coach assistance
- More time allotted
- Professional development
- How many times teachers wanted to use blended learning, but were not sure how to proceed
Some teachers may be more comfortable with an in-person interview. If so, the same questions will be asked.
A simple spreadsheet will be used to track the number of times teachers used a mode of blended learning in their classes. On that same spreadsheet will be what occured prior to the use of blended learning, such as: Technology Coach consultation, Technology Coach assistance during the actual lesson, teachers seeking their own professional learning, or teachers just diving in to see what happens (not recommended!).
We are a Google district so teachers are familiar with using Google Forms. I would like to administer measures every six weeks. Some teachers seek my assistance quite frequently, some none at all. It will be interesting to discover if any of these frequencies change.
- Delivered via Google Forms
- Rating Scales
- Delivered via Google Forms
- Conducted by me
- Self-reflection by teacher
- Conducted by the T-TESS evaluator
- Conducted in person at the convenience of teacher and during PLC meetings
- Conducted by email
- Spreadsheet Tracking
- How many times blended learning was used
- How many times was Technology Coach consulted
- Level of consultation
Below is the proposed Action Research Timeline
This Action Research plan will take an entire school year to complete. I think for the first year, just one grade level or one subject area should be the focus. Since I also teach technology classes, I would not have enough time to serve as the technology coach for the entire campus.
The data collected will be shared with teachers and administrators during the PLC meetings and by email. The data will be analyzed to see if there is a correlation between Technology Coach assistance and blended learning use by the teachers. Once all data has been collected and analyzed, hopefully, the data will show that a technology coach dedicated to just the junior high provides teachers with the necessary support to successfully implement blended learning in their classrooms.
Reflection on this entire process is one of the important steps in action research. Not only reflection by the researcher but reflection by all parties involved. After reflecting on the process, the action research cycle will start over with a new fundamental research question. The data often leads to new areas that need to be researched. In fact, after completing this plan, I have already decided to devise a plan to actually see for myself if student achievement levels are higher in blended learning classrooms.
That’s how action research works.
Mertler, C. A. (2016). Action research: Improving schools and empowering educators (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN-13: 978-1483389059
raiseyourhandtexas. (2015, August 17). What is blended learning? [[Video file]]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/JoApGl7M94I