The Research

Planning a Practitioner Research Project - The Research

Planning the Research

Once you feel sufficiently well grounded in the literature and documentation, you will need to draw up an outline proposal. The sources of data upon which this proposal can be based should relate closely to your research question(s).

The most common sources of data in teacher research are likely to be pupils, teachers, parents, and other adults working with pupils. Common documentary sources might be pupil reports, school records, written policies, inspection reports or government publications.

Having identified key sources and a research question, you will need to refer back to Unit 4 module 1 to think about and choose suitable methodologies. You will also need to work out a research timetable for the collection and analysis of data. A clear plan and timeline will ensure that nothing important has been missed out and that you can accommodate your research activity within your main work commitments.

Once you have finally settled on an issue or topic, you should complete the proforma Assignment Proposal Form and send/email this to your tutor for approval. Your tutor will return this sheet within a week, indicating where it is suggested that you (re)develop your ideas.

Research Ethics

Before you start, provide senior staff at your school with a copy of your outline proposal and ask for official permission to carry out your project. You will need to explain clearly the focus of your investigation, the subject of your research and your proposed methodologies for data collection.

You should also make clear what you intend to do with the data collected. If the topic is a sensitive issue, you will need to reassure colleagues about confidentiality.

As a rule there should be no reference made to the actual names of pupils, parents, and teachers in written work. Sometimes it will be appropriate to name people, at other points it will be better to anonymise them.

Professional judgement and sensitivity are required at all times to ensure that you respect the confidentiality of information shared with you as part of the research process.

Your skills of diplomacy may need to be fully deployed to reassure colleagues that you are not looking to produce a damning critique of school policy, practice or personnel. The objective is for you to learn about a school-wide or classroom issue from multiple perspectives.

At the end of the research process, as you write your report, return to your subjects to confirm that you are representing their views accurately and that your description of their roles is correct. You may wish to offer participants a copy of your assignment to read once it is complete.

For more general advice about ethical guidelines in educational research, read the BERA revised Ethical Guidelines (2004).

Conducting the Research

Having identified your problem area and decided on a research question which might help you to solve that problem, select data which will help you to answer the research question.

Use at least two sources of data in order to enable triangulation. Your data sources might include samples of pupils' work, notes from interviews, questionnaire findings, field notes, photos, minutes of meetings.

Once the data has been collected, it will need to be interpreted. Code the data by identifying major themes as they emerge. Summarise your findings in written or table form.