Monday, June 4, 2012

Can Action Research Result in Effective Professional Development?

           Action research is continual professional development and provides a direct route to improving teaching and learning (Calhoun,2002).  Using the process to facilitate school-wide change offers the opportunity to transform the school’s climate.  Teachers and administrators work together to create a professional community in which all contribute to the plan.  As the principal begins to investigate the practicality of implementing action research school-wide, the following questions should be addressed:

                       What does the disaggregated classroom data reflect about student and teacher learning?
                      What do teachers need to learn in order to impact specific student learning needs?
                      How is the school going to support teacher learning to ensure student achievement?
                      How will teachers and the school evaluate classroom instruction and professional learning? What evaluation tools will be used?
                      How will teachers and the school use the information collected through the evaluation to make specific and targeted decisions regarding research-based instructional strategies?

            Action research is a process in which teachers systematically investigate instructional practices and techniques in order to improve their teaching.  The impact of a specific instructional practice on student learning is measured.  The results become the basis for educational planning and decision-making.

            The principal can learn a great deal from the resources available to communicate effectively with teachers, other administrators and district staff, and parents.  If there is a university in the area, consult with faculty to assist with professional development or mentoring of teachers or principals.  As the principal guides the staff toward successful implementation, questions will continue to need answers and the level of understanding will continue to improve.  It is important to be a risk-taker and demonstrate the what, why, and how of action research.  In this way action research results in effective professional development.

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