They already have equipped themselves with various teaching techniques and methodologies. Therefore, they seem to have confidence in their performance in class, to have answers for questions asked by students, and to master the classroom entirely. However, a novice teacher will have a hard time when he or she is assigned to teach a class which requires him or her to be creative. But in this entry, I will not talk about the differences between the experienced teachers versus the unexperienced ones. More likely, I will talk about one of the ways that can help teachers to develop themselves professionally, that is by doing an action research.
What is Action Research?
Kurt Lewin, in his paper “Action Research and Minority Problems” (1946), described action research as “a comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research leading to social action” that uses “a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action”. Action research process embarks on a problem finding, and then formulating possible actions for the problem, applying an action, and finally evaluating on the outcome of the action. These activities go round in a circle. Sometimes, we should repeat the process until we can get the desired behaviour.
Action research can be done in any situations, including a classroom. Action research can range from a small-scalled research to a very meticulous one. It can either apply a quantitative or a qualitative approach, or both. The result of the research can be anything (a success or a failure of the action). The methods of gathering data can be as simple as an observation to more complex one like a questionnaire.
Why Action Research?
Maybe the answer is; "Why NOT?". It is very advisable for teachers that they know how to conduct action research. In the institution where I teach, action research has been encouraged to be done by every teacher. We have a yearly seminar for that cause and the result is very satisfying. Teachers from all over joint operations throughout the country flock to the seminar and sent their papers every year.
By doing action research a teacher is actually developing him/herself. Why so? As suggested in Lewin's definition about action research, the research is done in a series of planning, execution, and evaluating the feedback of action. Therefore, a teacher have to explore in his or her knowledge about how to act to solve a classroom problem. In other word, he or she will make a quest to find out the answer.
What is the relation between doing action research and professional development?
Not many teacher is likely to know what to do in classroom especially when he/she is faced with a problem or problems. The teacher mostly will turn to more senior teachers for help. It does solve the problem. However, the solution given by others can not be personalized in a particular class someimes. The teacher has to find out what was wrong and how to get it right.
In addition, doing action research can help improve the teacher's self esteem. Documented action research can be one source of solving problem. It also helps develop the teacher's repertoire. Finally, the teacher can use action research he or she has done to help others whenever they have difficulties. In short, when we help others, we help ourselves, right?
For more information about action research, please check the following articles: