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Part 1: Thinking It Through Paper
Step 1. Read
Before you begin work on your action research study, read this “Thinking It Through” scenario. The goal of the scenario is to help you better understand the process of action research; determine an issue, problem, or concern of interest to you, and draft a potential question or questions (no more than three) for your action research project.
Thinking It Through Scenario
I am a teacher in a classroom for 3-year-olds, and I have been concerned that fewer girls than boys select the computer center during free choice time. This question keeps gnawing at me: Why do fewer girls than boys choose to participate in the computer center?
To answer the question, I decide to engage in individual action research that has a descriptive purpose. At this point, I am not concerned with promoting girls’ participation in the center or finding interventions to increase girls’ activity. I just want to describe the situation…to answer my “why” question. From participation, I confirm that three times as many boys as girls select this center by examining how many times this center is selected on the childrens’ free choice charts, so I know my idea has data support.
After collecting background information from the literature, I map out a data collection plan to answer the research question about my observations. I decide to collect qualitative data from three sources: A survey of girls who are in my classroom, a structure observation of the type of activities available on the computers, and an interview with other teachers of 3-year-olds in my area. From the survey tool, I gain children’s opinions about why some girls choose to play in this center and others don’t. From the observations, I study the types of games and activities offered as well as the themes and learning focus found in the activities. From the interview with the other teachers, I gather their observations about their female students and their interest in the computer center.
After collecting the data, I use the technique recommended for organizing qualitative data: I focus on the words or phrases expressed during the research collection process to look for patterns and themes. (NOTE: If I had used a quantitative, or numeric, source, I would have displayed my data in a table or graph.) From the organized data, several patterns or themes emerge. Girls say they don’t select the computer center because they see it as “a boys’ activity,” that the games available do not have themes which would attract their attention.
After summarizing the patterns and themes, I compose a one-page summary of my research. At this point, I am not ready to share my findings with a large group. I just want to meet with a few colleagues to get their ideas, input, and suggestions for future direction. My colleagues like what I have done so far and suggest that I next pursue the question: How can I modify the activities in the computer center to appeal to girls?” A couple of colleagues volunteer to help me with the next phase of my research…Looks like my individual efforts will become collaborative.
Step 2. Compose
Thinking It Through Paper: Compose a “Thinking It Through” scenario of 1 to 2 pages for your specific situation. Visualize the problem and how the action research will unfold.
Part 2: Literature Search: Annotated Bibliography
Step 3. Search
In preparation for your action research study, search the Ebsco database for peer-reviewed articles related to the issue, problem, or concern you will address. Locate at least 3 peer-reviewed articles that help you better define your study. When you search, be sure to place a check on the box for “peer reviewed,” so you are sure to use only peer-reviewed studies. Articles reporting on one or more empirical studies will likely be the most useful, but there are theoretical articles describing programs, interventions, and methodologies to help you decide on the appropriate action to take or propose.
Step 4. Develop
Develop an annotated bibliography to provide examples of the sources available. You may or may not use these sources in your Module 2 literature review. An annotated bibliography, a preliminary step to a research study, includes a summary and evaluation of each of the sources. For each annotation entry, use the following criteria:
Organization: List each source in APA format, alphabetized by the author’s last name
Length: One paragraph of 100-150 words
Language and vocabulary: Ideas and language of the author; quotation marks for direct quotations
Format: One paragraph of complete sentences
Qualifications of author if available (Based on a 10-year study…, Smith suggests…)
Audience (Smith addresses organizational leaders interested in employee motivation.)