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Center for Applied Learning (CAL): Digests: Action Research

Center for Applied Learning (CAL): Digests: Action Research

Action research can inform teachers about their practice and empower them to take leadership roles in their local teaching contexts. Mills (2003) provides the following definition of action research: Action research is any systematic inquiry conducted by teacher researchers to gather information about the ways that their particular school operates, how they teach, and how well their students learn. The information is gathered with the goals of gaining insight, developing reflective practice, effecting positive changes in the school environment and on educational practices in general, and improving student outcomes. (p. 4) Action research is conducted by teachers and for teachers. It is small scale, contextualized, localized, and aimed at discovering, developing, or monitoring changes to practice (Wallace, 2000). The defining features of action research also reflect the qualities of leaders in collaborative cultures of change. These qualities include a deep understanding of the organization, vision and insight, a quest for new knowledge, a desire for improved performance, self-reflective activity, and a willingness to effect change (Fullan, 2000a, 2000b). This Digest discusses a framework for conducting action research and describes an action research study carried out in an elementary school Spanish program.

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