Volume 2- Number 2, 1999
V2.2E Moving toward more data based decision making in education - Jackie Delong and Ron Wideman
One purpose of this journal is to provide examples of teachers developing their ability to use action research as a process of learning and change. Over the years, inquiry into the effectiveness of one’s own practice has been recognized as a powerful form of professional learning (Houle, 1980, Schon, 1983) that is used by many teachers (Schon, 1987; Wideman, 1992). The inquiry process used by teachers is often informal and intuitive, lacking systematic qualities provided by action research.
There is a powerful confidence in those teachers who have conducted their own action research studies. They have not only developed and assessed improvements to their own teaching but also in their use of research skills. They have data to demonstrate the effectiveness of what they have developed. They have the collegial support system to build collaboration and synergy into the process.
A science pedagogy, that focuses on students learning through experience, is introduced during the author’s experiences with a Grade 12 advanced physics class on his four-month teaching practicum, while enrolled at Queen’s University. A detailed account of a four-day investigation of the Earth’s gravitational constant ("g") is provided to illustrate the potential benefits of an "experience first" approach to science teaching and learning. When surveyed, approximately 60% of students felt that doing an experiment before learning the related theory in class helped them visualize the concepts. Although it is difficult to give a definitive answer regarding the success of Experiential Science, there were many indicators that Experiential Science is a method worth investigating further.
V2.22 Go Math: Learning How to Help Students Overcome Math Anxiety - Darlene Beth Davison
This article describes action research I conducted during my B.Ed. year at Nipissing University. My purpose was to improve my ability to help Intermediate Division students overcome "Math anxiety". During my fall and winter practicum placements, I experimented with a number of ideas including making my teaching relevant to students’ lives, teaching step-based problem solving, and using manipulatives. I also engaged in many conversations with students, colleagues, and associate teachers and specifically asked students about how they liked a mathematics unit I had taught. I have learned that the techniques I tried are useful. Mathematics must be an enjoyable and relevant subject for students. I intend to continue my study this year and to ask students about their attitudes toward Mathematics on several occasions to determine the impact of my teaching.
The paper argues that action research strikes a powerful chord with many teachers because it resonates with their prior experience with change and enables them to more effectively use investigation to improve their classroom practices. The author describes his emerging understanding of the phenomenology of change from the teacher's perspective and how action research has informed that understanding. He presents research conducted in 1991 with fifty-one secondary school teachers and describes the resulting descriptive theoretical model of how teachers go about making substantial changes in their classroom practices. This ontologically rooted, investigative model, is consistent with action research but lacks the systematic quality of action research. Systematically collecting and analyzing data, recording studies, and collaborating with critical friends would have enabled participants to make changes in their classroom practices with greater confidence and assurance of success.
Action Research Forum: The fifth "Act, Reflect, Revise" forum on Action Research will be held on February 17 and 18, 2000 at the Brant Park Inn in Brantford, Ontario. The emphasis will be on dialogue and reflection. A priority will be to enable practicing educators to share their action research studies. Recognized leaders in action research will be on site. A pre-conference session on beginning to do action research will be led by Jack Whitehead, University of Bath, UK.