The Ontario Action Researcher

Volume 3- Number 3, 2000


V3.3E - Editorial- Guest Editors - Tom Russell and Jennifer Webster


Much of the beauty of action research resides in the power it imparts to teachers as they take responsibility for their own learning and professional development. Within the action research process, teachers express this professional responsibility as they create and share knowledge and understanding of the teaching-learning process. The empowerment of the action research process translates into actions in individual classrooms, as in Christine Jamieson's venture into using computer technology to enhance learning in a Grade 2 classroom. Empowerment translates into group action in Jennifer Webster’s article about the language arts program in the primary division of her school. Finally, in Memee Lavell’s contribution to this issue, empowerment translates into the questioning of action research itself and of its place in a culture that values holistic ways of knowing.

Tom Russell, Professor, Queen's University, Kingston
E-mail address:
Academic background: BA, Cornell; M.A.T., Harvard; Ph.D., Toronto
Areas of current interest: action research, teachers' professional development, pedagogical innovation, self-study
Mailing address: Faculty of Education, Queen's University, On, K7L 3N6

Jennifer Webster, Elementary Teacher, Upper Canada District School Board
E-mail address:
Academic background: BA, University of Waterloo, B. Ed., Ontario Education Teachers College at McMaster University
Areas of current interest: action research, beginning reading
Mailing address: 202 Fulford Pt. Rd., Elizabethtown, On. K6V 7E1


V3.31 - Action Research as a Strategy for Improving Literacy Levels in the Primary Division - Jennifer Webster

The results of provincial testing in Ontario have given educators incentive to look closely at literacy programs and their effectiveness in terms of meeting the standards set by the Ontario Curriculum. In the particular school in this report, the primary teachers began meeting as a team of action researchers with the intent of providing a co-ordinated and consistent approach to literacy from kindergarten through to Grade 3. Using the results of the testing, as well as beginning to use other means of assessment such as running records, the teachers are implementing a ‘balanced’ literacy program involving a two-hour block of time every day devoted to using, among other things, levelled books and guided reading. The act, reflect and revise cycle of action research in which the teachers are involved have allowed them to take ownership for the direction of their teaching and learning in the classroom.

V3.32 - If This Is Empowering Why Don’t I Feel Better? An Aboriginal Educator’s Perspective on Action Research as a Strategy for Facilitating Change in Aboriginal Education - Memee Lavell

This paper explores the potential of action research to aid the Aboriginal people in their struggle to achieve self-determination and control over the process of educating their children. The exploration begins with a description of the purposes and methods of action research as they relate to the goals of Aboriginal educators who may find this method empowering. Then several aspects of the action research methodology that are incongruous with the Aboriginal culture and are therefore problematic are examined. The paper closes with a critique of current action research goals as well as suggestions for future possibilities.

V3.33 - Learning Together: Tranformative Action Research in a Grade 2 Classroom - Christine Jamieson

Since qualifying as a teacher in the early 1990s, Christine has looked for opportunities to strengthen her commitment to constructivist teaching practices. She is committed to sharing a learning environment that is learner-centred rather than teacher-dominated, so that learners have a voice that is sought and valued. She engages in reflective practice, allowing her to critique her thinking and ideas and their application in the classroom with learners. She explores the power of the reflective journal as a data-collecting instrument for action research projects. The central theme in her following narrative attempts to integrate the use of the Internet into the Ontario Curriculum. She does this by tracing the evolution of an action research project undertaken in a Grade 2 classroom in a rural community near Kingston, Ontario. Utilizing the Journey North Internet site at, an interactive on-line game was played with nine other Grade 2 classes throughout the United States. It proved to be a highly invigorating adventure. As this was a first-time experience, the challenges and benefits of technology use in the classroom with young learners was highlighted.