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Action Research

Action Research

Address the following questions using specific examples from your professional experience
a.What sorts of topics are best approached through action research?
b.Consider each of the six categories of approaches discussed in Chapter 16. Could you design an evaluation study for a program you are familiar with (curriculum or instruction) using each of these approaches? Why or why not?

358 Part Five Procedures and Exemplars of Research as Differentiated by Practicality

3. Consumer-oriented evaluation. These evaluation models center on developing evalu-
ative information on broadly defined educational “products†for ultimate use by edu-
cational consumers (who must choose between competin g “programs†).

4. Expertise-oriented evaluation. These models depend primarily on judgments of pro-
fessional experts to determine the quality of educational programs.

5. Adversary-oriented evaluation. The central focus of these evaluations is on the presen-
tation of opposing points of view from different evaluators (who typically take “proâ€
and “con†perspectives).

A 6. Naturalistic-oriented and participant-oriented evaluation. Naturalistic (i.e., qualita-
tive) inquiry, along with the direct involvement of participants, is key in these mod-
els. These stakeholders help determine the criteria, needs, and data for the evaluation
study.

EVALUATING METHODS, MATERIALS, AND PROGRAMS
Methods, materials, and programs can be evaluated in various ways. The following meth-
Wyeducationlafij ods of evaluation are commonly used because they provide satisfactory results when the
for research researcher can set forth explicit criteria for making judgments.
EVa’†at‘°“ 5t†°“e$ “Vi” tYP‘Ca!’Y 1. Comparative content analysis. The components of a given method, material, or pro-
3Strfgiffigigggztrzfjssé? gram are identified and analyzed to determine how well they correspond to stated curricular
meterieje Te Ieem more about goals, which are clarified as criteria. Those criteria are used in judging the value of the
evaluation designs, goto the method, material, or program. Evaluation of textbooks, tests, and instructional programs
MiXed l/fleclhoils Researché; usually involves this process.
section 0 E ucationLa
for Researcliland then click on 2. Analysis of theoretical, philosophical, or moral tenets. Methods, materials, and pro-
Assignmenfs andACtiV!’fie5- grams are increasingly being scrutinized as to their theoretical, philosophical, and moral
[;p;:;edlhEOerxSeC’E::”Cid underpinnings. Textbooks and programs, especially in natural science, mathematics, lan-
Angeles Prégramp, This guage, and social science, can reflect various theoretical views, such as those having to
exercise asks you to eeneide, do with the nature and process of science, the procedure of thinking mathematically, the
several important design psycholinguistic parameters of language acquisition, or a variety of social values and life-
decisions lor implementing an styles. They also may reflect philosophical views concerning gender equity, racial equity,
e”a’,†a“°“ research Study †5†‘9 or cultural understanding and cooperation. Evaluation research is useful in addressing such
a m’Xed’methOd$ approach‘ concerns. Again, it requires stating explicit criteria of quality or worth before scrutinizing
materials or curricula, and then compiling and analyzing data obtained from that scrutiny,
usually qualitatively.

3. Teacher acceptance. The extent to which new curricula, materials, and programs will
be implemented depends largely on teachers’ favorable or unfavorable reactions. If teach-
ers do not buy into innovations-if they find fault with them or for any other reason resist
their use-the innovations have little chance of success. Therefore, it is very important that
teacher reactions be evaluated early and regularly as new programs or materials are intro-
duced into schools. Criteria for such evaluation studies tend to be somewhat nebulous, but
generally resemble the following:

I The innovation is educationally sound.

I The innovation shows promise of improving learning, teaching, or relationships.

I The innovation can be incorporated into the ongoing program.

I The innovation will not add unduly to the burdens teachers already carry.

Data are obtained from teachers or others involved directly with delivering the innovation.

4. Changes produced in teachers. Many innovative programs that districts attempt to put
into place require that teachers undergo in-service training. It is especially important in

Chapter 16 Evaluation Research 359
those cases to ascertain whether the training effects are being carried over into classroom
practice. Even if teachers profess to espouse a new method or set of materials, they may not
change their ways of teaching accordingly. Whether or not they make desired changes can i
be determined through evaluation research. Data can be obtained either by asking teachers
what they do differently when using the innovation or by observing and noting their behav-
iors as they teach. Asking the teachers is by far the easier procedure, but the information
obtained may be unreliable. Observing the teachers may yield better data, but such obser-
vations may be very difficult for graduate students to arrange, even if they are practicing A
educators. Whether teachers are interviewed or observed, behaviors relevant to the innova- q t
tion must be identified and made explicit. Those behaviors might have to do with prepara- A
tion, delivery of instructions, feedback to students, use of questions to stimulate thought, or
procedures of assessing student performance. Ch:-
For making judgments in this evaluative approach, teacher behavior prior to the in- ‘ ‘ ” – r

novation can be established as baseline performance. For example, in research into equal ’ A‘ – no
opportunity for students to participate in class discussions, an observer could note which

students a teacher calls on during discussions over a period of a week. After receiving

equal-participation training, that same teacher could again be observed and his or her be-

havior compared to the baseline behavior. Differences between baseline and subsequent _ T
behavior are then explored.

5. Student acceptance and involvement. Just as teachers must accept innovations if those

innovations are to be successful, so must students accept them and participate willingly. A

Student reactions to innovations are not difficult to obtain, as students not under threat

are usually willing to express their opinions freely. It is also possible to document student

behavior in given classes or subject areas before and after the innovation is introduced.

Again, appropriate criteria are stated; behavior prior to the innovation establishes a base-

line, and behavior subsequent to the innovation allows one to determine the results of the

innovation.

6. Resultant student achievement or behavior: Changes in achievement and behavior are

prime criteria for judging the value of an innovation, but changes in student attitude are 1 2

important, too. If achievement gains are seen to result from the innovation, the investigator

must make sure that the gains have not occurred at the expense of other learnings that would

otherwise have taken place. Some innovations consume more time than the activities they r ‘ t

replace, so that less instructional time is left for other areas of the curriculum. Achievement

in those other areas may suffer as a result. 1
The following article reports the evaluation of the impact of interactive whiteboards for
teaching and learning in primary schools in England.
Exe roise 16 .1
See if you can answer these questions about the article. What is being evaluated?
3 -1
1. What is the main criterion of effectiveness?
2. What data figure prominently in the study?
3. What do the data lead investigators to conclude? p
4. What additional questions does the research seem to raise? l
5. How are those questions explored, and what are the answers determined to be?

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