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Website Review:

This is the website of the George Mason University, Fairfax, Canada

6 June 2005 (site reviewed previously March 2004)

http://www.gse.gmu.edu/research/tr/TRdefinition.shtml

This is quite simply the most comprehensive website supporting action research for teachers that I have come across so far. It is really well organised and maintained and I use extensively in my own work with teachers. The PowerPoint by Leo Rigsby under What is Action Research?

http://gse.gmu.edu/research/tr/media/ARRigsbyppt.htm

provided a focus for a lively, informative discussion with a newly convened group of teacher researchers at Bitterne Park School during our first session in May 2005. The whole site has been expertly updated since my last review and I compliment Diane Painter and Leo Rigsby on their work. It has paid rich dividends. As a university-based research mentor I am particularly interested in the section relating to comparing TR to other forms of continuing professional development - especially in the light of plans for the General Teaching Council to create a Teacher Learning Academy in England. This Academy will support the teaching profession by promoting teachers' research in practice as a form of continuing professional development. The teachers I work at Master's Level in connection with Bath Spa University College particularly like a section entitled the Process of Teacher Research.

They are learning with me to become action research mentors as a form of co-enquiry. It must be said this website promotes a slightly different model for disseminating teachers' research from the one I am encouraging teachers to use. Mine involves creating web-based Snapshots rather than paper based reports. However, these two forms of representation are complementary. I like the easy to navigate menu bar but I suggest that a section relating to validation of evidence synthesised from data is needed. This is distinct from, yet it is complementary to, the section on triangulation in data collection.

The section on Collecting Data is very useful and I am hoping to see some exemplars from teacher researchers added to the site - in addition to the links to Deer Park School's pool of action enquiries undertaken by teachers. It would be good to see some recent work by teachers using mutli-media.

To summarise - this site inspires me to add additional resources to my own. I have yet to create a section on how to do action research - but no doubt I will soon ...



Previous review March 2004:

Although this website is not current (it was apparently last updated on 13 November 2003 according to the log), it is nonetheless one of the most inspiring sites that I have encountered recently in relation to explaining the dynamics and scope of teachers' research. The site is well organised and easy to navigate from the menu on the home page. I very much like the topics represented by the links:

What is action research?
History of Action Research
Related Action Research Websites
Essays on Action Research
Action Research Listserv
Free Action Research Course Online

Just listen to the commitment embodied in this statement about teacher research:

"Teachers are subjective insiders involved in classroom instruction as they go about their daily routines of instructing students, grading papers taking attendance, evaluating their performance as well as looking at the curriculum. Traditional educational questions who develop questions and design studies around those questions and conduct research within the schools are considered objective outside observers of classroom interaction. But when teachers become teacher researchers the traditional descriptions of both teachers and researchers change. Teacher researchers raise questions about what they think and observe about their teaching and their students' learning. They collect student work in order to evaluate performance, but they also see student work as data to analyze in order to examine the teaching and learning that produced it."

I particularly like this explication of teacher research by Gail Ritchie which begins:

Why is Teacher Research important to me? many teachers, already overburdened with curriculum requirements, accountability requirements and all the day-to-day pressures of keeping a classroom running, wonder why they should take on one more thing. To them, I can truthfully say, Teacher Research is not an add-on; it is a way of being! When you look at your classroom from a stance of "How can I make teaching/learning better?" you are taking a Teacher Researcher stance. Teacher Research is not something done TO us; it is something done BY us. The goal of Teacher Research is to put Best Practices about teaching/learning into actual practice in your classroom. And the person who does that is you, the classroom teacher.

and ends ...

Teacher Research empowers Teacher Researchers to make a positive difference in terms of classroom practice; it enables us to provide relevant information about teaching and learning in actual classrooms. More importantly, by engaging in reflective practice, the Teacher Researcher improves the lives of students by always seeking to discover better, more effective ways of implementing teaching/learning.

Having looked at this website I will be searching the library catalogue for a copy of Maclean, Marion, S. and Mohr, Marian, M. (1999) Teacher Researchers at work, Berkeley, CA: National Writing Project

I found two sections of the site highly informative and will be recommending them to teachers with whom, I work as a research mentor. These relate to validity and ethical principles in Teacher Research.

I warmly recommend this site to you - and urge the web concerns to update it regularly so it is indeed

'a dynamic representation of teacher research activity ... constantly revised, reshaped and extended.'


From this website I followed a trail to another much more updated site which represents the work and ideas of other Teacher Researchers
http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/DeerParkES/TR/tchrch.htm

Teacher-Research at Deer Park School
by Diane DeMott Painter, Ph.D.

What is Teacher-Research?

Teacher-Research is a way that teachers look at their teaching and what their students learn. It is structured in the sense that teachers generate a question(s) about what happens in their classrooms and they systematically and intentionally investigate what goes on in their teaching environment. They collect data from a variety of sources such as observations, work samples, interviews of students, and questionnaires. Teachers reflect on what they are observing and examine their assumptions and beliefs based on what they are finding. Teacher-researchers share their findings with other teacher-researchers and others in the educational field. All the while teacher-researchers generate new questions and perspectives that often lead to new avenues of inquiry.

yet again, this site has not been updated since 2003, but there are a number of excellent accounts by teacher researchers there.

 

 

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