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" If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change--" Mahatma Gandhi

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Tutorial 6:  Beginning the First Cycle

Tutorial 6:  Beginning the First Cycle

Tutorial 6: Resources 

Examples of Framing the First Cycle Research Questions

Here are a number of examples drawn from years of working with students. More examples can be found in the e-portfolios of action researchers on the Center for Collaborative Action Research. These are just small stories to get you started in your own context.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After School Computer Club

Josh Burker started out thinking it was a marketing problem and he was planning on creating more engaging invitation and a more personal appeal to make these student groups feel more welcome. His reading of the research literature suggested that there may be gender differences in the ways that students used computers. He started to examine his activities and found that they aligned more with uses that boys were found to favor. So by watching what students in other groups chose to do with computer and reading studies about gender differences, he decided not to change the marketing but rethink the tech club activities. This is something that frequently happens in action research. The problem changes as you try to better understand it. He shifted the focus of the first activity in the after-school computer club to digital photography.

 

  • Value - I care about problems of equity and social justice and I want to increase access to learning resources

  • Value in Context - If there are only boys in the tech club, have I done everything I can to assure equal access?

  • Nature of the problem - How could I change the tech club to increase the diversity of participation

  • Overall Research Question: How do I improve the way I support all students to gain computer skills?

  • Action - Change the curriculum to activities that have been found to appeal more to girls and special needs students.

  • Anticipated Results -  More equity in participation by gender and special needs students

  • Cycle 1 Research Question - If I shift the activities of the tech club to digital photography (action), how will this affect the participation of girls and special ed students (Outcome)?


 

 

 

Learning To Read

 

In this case, Veronica Azizi wanted the involvement of primary grade students' parents but was worried that their lack of confidence in English literacy was an issue. Her search for an action cycle leads her to an idea of how to use technology to create a powerful learning environment for the child and parent to engage in together. Her idea started with the idea of videotaping classroom lessons with students to send home to be viewed at home. By sending the video of the classroom lessons home, students could watch them as many times as they needed to learn the contact. Parents could see how their students were learning at school. Veronica realized that by sending lessons home she was teaching literacy skills to parents as they worked with their students. By helping the parents develop their skills, they were better able to help their child learn.

 

  • VALUE: Teamwork and collaboration

  • VALUE IN CONTEXT: I value high Parent-Teacher collaboration because I see it as essential for strong learning in the primary grades (general)

  • Nature of the Problem: Parents of my students are not native language speakers which makes it hard for them to support their children learning to read. (specific)

  • Overall Research Question: How do I help parents to help me help their students to learn?

  • Action to be taken: create videos of classroom literacy lessons and send them home so parents and students can learn from them together

  • Anticipated results: If Spanish speaking parents have the opportunity to work with students and learn at the same time, they will be better able to support their students as they continue learning

  • ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE 1 QUESTION: If I videotape my students doing early literacy activities, and send these tapes home to watch with their parents, what effect will this have on the developing literacy skills of students and parents?

 

 

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 Hospital Training Sessions

Jason Melillo engaged in action research  to promote the use of streaming video in the media department of a large hospital. He had recently moved into this position and he had continued the approach that had been done in the past. He offered workshops and when necessary developed materials that were needed. But he was not seeing capacity developing. From this reading of social learning theory, he decided to shift the focus from training to "development on demand." He tired a different approach of helping those who came with needs to create their own projects. The sense of ownership and authorship that they displayed in using the materials started a process of change that Jason had been looking for. He was able to move into a role of enabling the use of streaming media, not teaching about or creating it himself.

  • VALUE: I value innovative and participatory learning

  • VALUE IN CONTEXT: I want the nurses and doctors I work with to be motivated to learn how to use new media tools

  • Nature of the Problem: To increase the use of streaming media in training sessions at the hospital

  • Overall Research Question: How do I improve my support of nurses and doctors in using video technology in their teaching?

  • Action to be taken: Increase the use of streaming media technologies among my colleagues

  • Increased innovation in teaching

  • ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE 1 QUESTION: If I encourage department leaders to create their first streaming media presentation with my support, how will this affect the use of streaming media in their future training sessions?

 

 

 

 

 

Educational Leadership in an Aquarium Setting

Christian Geer had recently been promoted to a leadership position at a time of reorganization of the educational team at an aquarium. Educators from the two divisions were coming together and he needed a way to create a sense of ownership and control. He decided to use a learning circle approach and get people engaged in action research projects. By facilitating this process within his division, he helped forge new working relationships.

  • VALUE: Teamwork and Productivity

  • VALUE IN CONTEXT: In my setting two divisions are being brought tother and I have to help them to engage in teamwork to get past competitive attitudes

  • Nature of the problem: Bringing groups of people who have their own identity and try to create a cohesive educational team

  • Overall Research Question: How can I my division become a cohesive educational team? (action research problem)

  • Action to be taken: use learning circles and distributed leadership

  • Outcome: increased cohesion and productivity

  • ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE 1 QUESTION: If I use a learning circle approach with distributed leadership for our work (action), how will this affect the cohesion and productivity of our educational team (outcome)?


 

Doctor-Patient Interaction -

Medicine (Private Practice)

Michael Weinstein has a private practice and started with a concern that patients often come looking for solutions. By giving solutions he worried that he was not fully engaging them in the process of healing. He began by using email before a visit as a way to increase the dialogue. By monitoring the conversations, he noticed that a change took place in one session when he switched from using the pronoun "1" to using the pronoun "we." So in a later cycle, he systematically shifted his use of pronouns to "we" and found that it had the effect that he was looking for, it invited the patient to be a more active player in constructing a healing plan.

 

  • VALUE: Engagement

  • Values in Context: People need to be fully engaged with improving their health As a doctor, I do not want my expertise to dominate the path to healing

  • Nature of the Problem: Increase patient participation in my practice

  • Action Research Overall Research Question: How can I create a more collaborative approach to medicine in my practice?

  • Action to be taken: Implement a cycle of communication preceding appointments

  • Outcome: Patients will be more engaged in finding solutions to their health problems

  • ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE 1 QUESTION: If I have patients connect with me before coming into the office by email, how will his affect the dialogue between us in the office?