This course will introduce students to action research, a form of self-reflective systematic inquiry by practitioners on their own practice. The goals of action research are the improvement of practice, a better understanding of that practice, and an improvement in the situation in which the practice is carried out. The primary objective of the course is to prepare students to do action research in schools. There are three other goals: 1) the development of professional community; 2) the illumination of power relationships; and 3) students' recognition of their own expertise.
Topics include an analysis of collaborative and spectator forms of research, ways to identify problems to investigate, the selection of appropriate research methods, collecting and analyzing data, and ways to draw conclusions from the research. The major assignment for the course will be the completion of a mini-research project undertaken in an educational setting in which the student is engaged in professional practice.
Because this course involves research with "human subjects," all students must complete UMass Human Subjects Training. This is done on-line at this link: http://www.umass.edu/research/comply/hstraining.html .
1. A significant part of this course will be class discussions of readings assigned for each week. Therefore successful completion of this graduate level course requires attendance of all classes and active participation in the discussions. Carefully read assigned readings for each class. Come to class prepared to contribute your critical reflections on both your own experiences and ideas and those of others as presented in the readings. Your reflections on the readings should be recorded in your research notebook (see 2 below). Most weeks there will be reading questions that must be submitted to me through WebCT before the class meeting.
2. Keep a research notebook in which you regularly (at least weekly) record your experiences in carrying out action research. The purpose of the notebook is to help you to reflect on your practices, formulate ideas for action or changes in practice, and evaluate those actions. You will be using your research notebook as a data source for writing an analysis of your action research project.
3. Participate in a " research notebook response group [RNRG]." Form a group of 3-5 students who will meet at least once per week for a minimum of one hour outside of class time to discuss research notebook entries, the readings for the classes, and your research projects. No more than half of the group meetings can be done online using the WebCT chat function . Your RNRG will be required to make a presentation to the class about how your group operates. These presentations will begin on March 8.
4. Prepare an informed consent form . This will be due on October 3. Please submit the consent form to me via WebCT. A final copy of your consent form should be included with your action research report (assignment #8).
5. Write the text for a Starting Point Speech [M11] to a group of colleagues explaining why the problem of thematic concern you have identified for your project is educationally important. This speech is due to be presented in class on October 10, and submitted to me via WebCT , after revising in response to feedback received in class, by October 17.
6. The speech should include the results of your Photovoice project . It should also include references to the appropriate research literature. October 17?
7. In order to receive feedback on your on-going efforts, a 2-3 page interim report of your project, including a statement of your thematic concern or general idea for inquiry and the results of reflecting on your initial data collection, should be submitted to me via WebCT by November 21, following the data workshop.
8. Complete an analysis (in approximately 10-15 pages) of your action research project according to guidelines to be provided by the instructor (see calendar for URL). A presentation to the class during the last sessions will be expected and the final report will be due on the last day of class (December 12).
9. In addition to the above assignments, there will be shorter assignments that help move you through the research process. These include the Slice of Life [M3] ; Consent form ; a Data Collection Plan ; and other "M" assignments from Altricher et al. You are required to submit all written work to me via WebCT .