The education and training sector is a fast paced and results driven industry with key focus on high pass rates and statistics. What is often neglected is the quality of teaching and delivery by practitioners. Leading to the value of the learning experience being ignored. 

The idea of an action research project or ‘focus group’ is to pause from the hectic pace of teaching and to take stock of your own strengths and areas for development.  Failure to reflect on your own skills could mean that you are making the same common mistakes as a teacher and ultimately expending your precious time and energy. The project can be focused on the organisation as a whole rather than the teacher or trainer’s own skillset, for example you may wish to revamp your organisations code of conduct or behaviour management policies if you believe they are outdated.

The best way to decide on an action research project is to think about your ‘Achilles heel’ within teaching. Try to target an area that you perhaps keep putting off or something you feel intimidated by.  You may wish to trust your gut instinct when deciding a project, however asking your colleagues, line manager or even your learners can provide you with some honest advice which can be pivotal in your decision. 

The advantages of an Action Research project?

There are many advantages to delivering an action research project, firstly not only will you improve upon your own target area within teaching but it is a signal of intent to your colleagues that you are a forward thinking and dynamic teacher who is not contempt with simply stagnating within your teaching career. Your organisation will be thankful that you are deciding to pursue a project which could assist some much needed amendments within the company, which will make other members of staff thankful that you are making a positive change for everyone.
Another key benefit to an action research project is that you will be demonstrating that you are a proactive staff member and the project can be used as a point of reference when you apply for both internal and external positions. Furthermore, the results you will gain from an action research project can be used collaboratively with partner organisations or companies which will increase your teacher profile. Ultimately, better quality teaching will lead to higher learner satisfaction rates, greater learner retention and more enthusiastic learners. 

Timeframe for the project 

The project can be anywhere from typically three weeks to six months. It is best to be broken down into logical stages, whereby background reading into your project is essential (the answer to your question may already be solved).  Hypothesis, Literature Review, Method, Results, Analysis, Conclusion, Future Implications and Evaluation. 

Action Research project ideas?

The action research project can focus on developing an area of the teaching specialism which is unique to you. Typical ideas could involve:

  • To improve your behaviour management skills within the classroom 
  • To update your organisations legislations such as behaviour management policies
  • To increase the scope of stretch and challenge opportunities within your classroom
  • Embedding equality and diversity within the classroom 
  • To increase interactive teaching within the classroom 
  • To promote group work within the classroom 
  • To promote starter activities and early engagement within teaching 
  • To introduce peer and self-assessment within teaching 
  • To reduce off task chatter and learners not listening to instructions 
  • To line manage a department of teachers 
  • To introduce work platforms such as Google Drive to a department 
  • To promote social media within the classroom 
  • To promote e-learning both inside and outside the classroom 
  • To promote employability skills within teaching and learning
  • To increase functional skills within your classroom 
  • To improve the punctuality of learners 
  • To improve rich questioning within the classroom 
  • Does promoting music within the classroom improve learner focus and retention of learning?  
  • Promoting evaluation skills with your learners. 
  • To promote the ‘learner voice’ opportunities and classroom reps  

Considerations for the project

The best advice for any project is to ‘keep it simple’, you need to focus on an idea which has a clear target, an intervention strategy, a method for gaining results and an opportunity to analyse your results and promote your findings. By over-complicating a project can lead to a drawn out and lengthy process and the value of the project will quickly diminish. A good way to keep on track of a project is to promote it to staff members - why not announce your project during a staff briefing and suggest an end date for the project.
If an action research project does not render the results that you had hoped for and that the intervention strategy had not worked, do not be disheartened- celebrate your failures and take note of what methods had not worked. You may wish to revisit this target in the future.

Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash