Action Research: A Way to Students / Teacher Better Understanding and Creativity
Valeria V. Bondareva (Samara State Pedagogical University, Russia)
The idea of teaching-led research was developed in 1950 to enable teachers to solve local classroom problems. The term “action research” was adopted to describe a small-scale investigation done by the teacher. It refers to a repeated cycle of procedures aimed at addressing specific issues of the teaching/learning process.
The action research cycle consists of several steps:
- .A problem is identified.
- Relevant data are gathered and recorded.
- Practical action, which might solve the problem, is suggested.
- A plan of action is drawn up.
- The plan is implemented.
- Results are monitored and recorded.
- The action researcher reflects on the outcome and plans subsequent action.
Having taught English not as a major but as a required course I have noticed that students are low motivated to study it. So, I did have the problem (step 1) which I decided to solve through action research. Through questionnaires I gathered and recorded data to find out the reasons of students’ low motivation (step 2) the main of which was “impossibility to apply classroom knowledge to practice”. To get the students more interested in learning English and to show practical ways of its application I suggested realizing a project “English Goes out of the Classroom” (step 3). Its main objectives were:
- to teach the students to pick up English outside the classroom;
- to see to what extent students’ exposure to sources other than a language classroom facilitates their progress;
- to learn if conscious attention to the utilization of language outside classroom alters students’ attitude to language learning.
Through brainstorming we did a quick audit of what English is on offer outside the classroom and drew a plan of action (step 4). While working on the project (step 5) the students had to keep journals of their language learning experience. Meanwhile I gathered and recorded the results (step 6). Having reflected on the outcomes of the project (step 7). I was surprised to see how creative the students became while working on it and how amazing the result turned out to be.
Here are but a few of my main findings. The students were not passive information users anymore, now they were exposed to active information search, which made them independent learners. The project taught the students to work collaboratively, to reflect on their learning. They began to pay more attention to the language forms surrounding them which resulted in their vocabulary enrichment.
As a teacher I also benefited from the experiment. First and the most important, I got the students interested in English and motivated to study it. I began to better understand the students and their interests. The research furthers my professional development as well as I added some effective teaching strategy to my portfolio.