In this step-by-step task, we look at what classroom action research is and how to get started.

What is classroom action research?  

Classroom action research begins with a question or questions about classroom experiences, issues, or challenges. It is a reflective process which helps teachers to explore and examine aspects of teaching and learning and to take action to change and improve.

Why do it?

It helps you to:

  • deepen your understanding about teaching and learning
  • develop your teaching skills and knowledge
  • try out different approaches and ideas
  • develop reflective practice
  • improve student learning. 

How to do it

  1. Reflect
    Talk to your colleagues. What questions do you have about teaching? What topics are you and your colleagues interested in? Are there problem areas, or aspects of teaching/learning you are all unsure about? Make a list. From your list, decide together the topic for the classroom action research. To help you decide, discuss why you want to do it. What are the benefits to teachers and to learners?  When you have decided, write one or two questions about your topic which will guide what you do.
  2. Explore

    Reflect on your topic questions. Where can you find information to help you plan the research?  Do you need to consult published materials or the Internet for information and ideas?  Find out as much as you can about the topic to help you plan how to do the action research.
  3. Plan

    Think about: how long it will the action research take?  How will you record the research?  There are different ways of doing classroom action research.  It can be as simple as just writing down your own reflections relating to the topic after a lesson or sequence of lessons or it could include questionnaires, observations, audio recordings and so on.  
  4. Research

    Carry out the action research using your chosen method.  Some ideas are:
    • Peer observation
    • Teacher diary
    • Learner feedback
    • Lesson evaluation
    • Recording lessons
    • Reflecting on learners’ work
    • Surveys

    Choose the method which best suits your topic questions.
  5. Researching together

    It is also helpful to carry out action research with a colleague or group of colleagues.  This gives you more data to reflect on, compare and discuss.
  6. Analyse

    This stage helps you to make sense of the data you have collected in your research. It is a process of reflecting on, organising and reviewing your data to help you answer your topic questions. What have you found out?  What insights have you gained from the research?  What does your research show you?
  7. Act

    If you have carried out the classroom action research on your own, share your results with your colleagues.  Reflect on the results. How do the results help you and your colleagues?  What changes will you all make?  
  8. Review

    It is important to review the impact of the changes made. How successful were they? Is any follow-up action needed? Are there any differences amongst your colleagues?

Further reading

Research and insight

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