Action Research in the Classroom

Course Outline

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide teachers with the knowledge and skills to integrate Action Research as a teaching and problem solving methodology, as well as teaching students to use Action Research to achieve lesson objectives.

Action Research is a specific process for problem solving, verification, and discovery. The process can be used by an individual, teacher or student, but experience indicates the process works best through cooperation and collaboration. This course will be taught by employing the attributes of the Action Research process:

  • Problem definition...the question
  • A plan to answer or resolve the problem
  • Use of objective data
  • Collection of data
  • Data recording
  • Reporting

After presenting the attributes and having participants demonstrate competency in their use, the participants will employ the process to answer prescribed questions, and discover solutions to persistent problems. Following these activities, participants will develop strategies for teaching students to use Action Research to complete assigned lessons. The participants may elect to field-test the process in one of the following ways:

  1. Teach the strategy to a class and report on the results to the instructor.
  2. Address a real issue in their classroom, school, or district using Action Research and report on the results to the instructor.
  3. Taylor an application activity to their specific needs, test the process, and report on the results to the instructor.

All options will be assessed by prescribed criteria.


  • Analyze the stages of action research
  • Develop the concept of here and now research
  • Create a definition of the action research process
  • Compare and contrast action and formal research
  • Compose a problem statement that describes a persistent problem that occurs in your classroom
  • Develop an experimental design for a specific research question
  • Discern the sequential processes that characterize the descriptive survey method.
  • Construct a research design that correlates to the four steps of the descriptive survey method.
  • Compare and contrast various methods of data collection
  • Explain research bias and examine measures of how to avoid bias
  • Identify the use of field tests, and evaluate the need for their use in research
  • Distinguish between data analysis and data interpretation and appraise how they correlate within research findings
  • Compare methods of data analysis and data interpretation, and determine which methods are best suited for his/her action research project
  • Relate research findings to the initial questions or problems selected for the action research project
  • Evaluate and select which methods are best suited to illustrate research findings
  • Assess the kinds of problems K-12 students could possibly research, and compare various techniques to assist K-12 students in selecting problems to address via an action research project.
  • Evaluate and compare methods of assessing K-12 students’ research, and from them select an appropriate method of assessment for a proposed student project
  • Critique the purpose of action research and predict how his/her students could benefit from the use of action research.
  • Outline the final action research project

Curriculum Design & Time Requirements

Action research is a 3 credit graduate level or forty-five hour professional development course taught on weekends or over five full days. The primary teaching methodology is to present a conceptual framework within which teachers may define operationally the knowledge and skills to successfully use action research in the classroom. Action research is a teaching methodology and that methodology will be used throughout the course. Participants will complete and field-test an Action Research project and report results to the instructor.

Course Materials

The required textbook for this course is Action Research: An Educational Leader's Guide to School Improvement, by Jeffrey Glanz, published by Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc., Norwood, MA.

Session Outline

Session 1: Establishing a Conceptual Framework for Action Research
Objective: To provide an orientation to action research and identify the four stages of action research.
  1. Overview
  2. History of Scientific Research
  3. Action Research Defined
  4. Different Research Approaches
  5. Research Terminology
  6. The Research Process

Session 2: Differentiation Between Formal and Action Research
Objective: To develop the concept of here and now research; define action research; and introduce a glossary of research terms
  1. "Here and Now" Research For Immediate Application
  2. A Systematic Method of Inquiry versus the Pragmatic Use of Research Tools
  3. Topic Selections
  4. What If...?
  5. The Problem and Its Setting
  6. The Focus of Action Research

Session 3: Basic Principles of Experimental Design and Data Analysis
Objective: Improve problem selection for the action research process; to name problems specifically related to teaching and learning in the classroom.
  1. Developing Basic Concepts
  2. Applying Basic Concepts
  3. Generating Experimental Ideas
  4. Describing Experimental Procedures
  5. Constructing Tables and Graphs
  6. Writing Reports

Session 4: Major Concepts
Objective: To define the concept of research design and to identify the experimental approach to action research.
  1. The Concept of Control (Central Idea in Research)
  2. Time Series Experiments
  3. The Sample and Selecting the Sample
  4. The Hypothesis
  5. Claims and Proof - Truth and Validity
  6. Baseline Data
  7. Replication

Session 5: The Design
Objective: To define the parts of descriptive survey method and to begin a design based on the four steps of the descriptive survey method..
  1. The Proposal
  2. Research Symbols to Facilitate Design
  3. Overview of:
    1. Historical Design
    2. Descriptive
    3. Analytical
  4. Emphasis - the Experimental Design

Session 6: The Data
Objective: Review methods for collecting data; identify bias in action research; recognize the use of and need for field tests.
  1. Related Literature
  2. Collecting Data - What Data do we Collect?
  3. Sources of Data for Action Research
  4. Analysis and Interpretation of Data

Session 7: The Data Continued
Objective: Define data analysis and data interpretation and identify a data analysis and data interpretation for your action research.
  1. The Role of Statistics
  2. Constructing Data Gathering Instruments
  3. Taking Action
  4. Reporting Results - Why and To Whom?

Session 8: Integrating Action Research and Teaching
Objective: Name the questions your project answer and identify ways to display your data.
  1. Rationale for Student Research
  2. Strategies for Classroom and Independent Research
  3. Parental Support
  4. Scheduling Student Research
  5. Assessing Student Research
  6. Maximizing Student Research

Session 9: Related Topics
Objective: Identifying student research problems and how to assess student research.
  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Logic
  3. Constructivism and Action Research
  4. Utilization of Technology
  5. Unleashing Imagination - Preparation, Incubation, Persistence
  6. Creativity - Finding New Ways, Making Associations, Discovering Unexpected Solutions

Session 10: The Research Process
Objective: Review the purpose of action research; add the final steps in the action research process.
  1. Research as an Integrated Process
  2. The Problem Related to Method and Analysis
  3. Student Action Research Safely
  4. Student Action Research and the Prescribed Curriculum
  5. Relevant Case Studies of:
    1. Teacher Action Research
    2. Student Action Research
  6. Review, the Cycle of Research
  7. The Action Research Lesson
  8. Synthesis


    Assignment Points   Grading Scale  
  Attendance   10      100 – 93 A
  Demonstrate Competency Using Action Research Attributes   25       92 – 85 B
  Collaboration and cooperation on group projects   25       84 – 77 C
  Field-test reports based on prescribed criteria   25    
    Final Exam   15            
  Total Points 100    

Student Academic Integrity

Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.


To register to take TEI's Action Research in the Classroom course, go to the Course Registration page.