Activity 1

Key Issues in Classroom Research

"How do you know that your lesson went well?" is a natural question to be asked of any teacher. Critical evaluation of practice lies at the heart of any successful teaching.

In the 1970s, investigation into their own practice by professionals became known as ‘action research'. Laurence Stenhouse first highlighted the value of action research in education in 1975 in his book, An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development where he argued that "a research tradition which is accessible to teachers and which feeds teaching must be created if education is to be significantly improved".

These ideas were also reflected in Schon's notion of the ‘reflective practitioner', i.e. a teacher who evaluates practice through ‘knowledge in action' or ‘reflection in action' (Schon 1983)

Read more about Schon's ideas on this webpage.

The original model of action research was developed by Kurt Lewin (1946), a social psychologist, who proposed the following general model:

  • Identify a problem
  • Reconnaissance
  • Plan
  • Develop the first action step
  • Implement the first action step
  • Evaluate
  • Revise the general plan
  • Develop the second action step etc. (ref)

Read more about Lewin's view of action research on this webpage.

Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) re-presented the action research model as a spiral of development in which, firstly, a problem is identified. Next, evidence is gathered; then action is planned and implemented, resulting in changes which are monitored and evaluated:

  • Observation
  • Action
  • Reflection
  • Modification

From here, the spiral of development aims to continue to ever higher levels of reflective and research-based practice.

"Action research is a small-scale intervention in the functioning of the real world and a close examination of the effects of such intervention". (Cohen and Manion 1994).

Stenhouse called action research "systematic enquiry made public" (Rudduck 1985) and argued that a major part of its value lay in its potential for broader institutional dissemination, for example, through discussion of findings with colleagues.