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Benefiting from all kinds of research

Although we authors both feel a degree of sympathy for the nature and purposes of action research, we are not trying to advocate for it at the expense of other forms of educational research or at the expense of simply reading and understanding professional publications in general. The challenge for you, as a classroom teacher, is to find the value in all forms of professional development, whether it be participation in a professional association, reading general articles about research, or engaging in your own action research. To the extent that you draw on them all, your ways of learning about teaching will be enriched. You will acquire more ways to understand classroom life, while at the same time acquiring perspective on that life. You will learn ways to grasp the individuality of particular students, but also to see what they need in common. You will have more ways to interpret your own experiences as a professional teacher, but also be able to learn from the professional experience of others. Realizing these benefits fully is a challenge, because the very diversity of classrooms renders problems about teaching and learning complex and diverse as well. But you will also gain good, professional company in searching for better understanding of your work—company that includes both educational researchers, other professional teachers, and of course your students.

Chapter summary

The complexities of teaching require teachers to continue learning throughout their teaching careers. To become a lifelong reflective practitioner, teachers can rely on colleagues as a resource, on professional associations and their activities, and on professional publications related to educational issues and needs. Understanding the latter, in turn, requires understanding the purposes of the published material—whether it is offering a general framework, recommending desirable teaching practices, or advocating for a particular educational policy or need. Interpreting published material also requires understanding the assumptions that authors make about readers’ prior knowledge and beliefs.

An important additional strategy for becoming a reflective practitioner is action research—studies of teaching and learning designed and carried out by teachers in order to improve their own practice. By nature, action research studies are highly relevant to classroom practice, but there are also cautions about it to keep in mind, both ethically and practically.

Key terms

action research

assumptions about readers’ prior knowledge

informed consent

insuring privacy of students

insuring freedom to participate

professional associations

purposes of educational research

reflective practitioner

reliability

validity

On the internet

< http://www.aera.net >This is the official website of the American Educational Research Association (or AERA), a major "umbrella" professional association supporting educational research of all kinds. The home page has links to over two dozen special interest groups (called “SIGs”), each specializing in some form of educational research or practice. There is, among others, a special interest group called "teacher as researcher", intended primarily for educators involved in action research.

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Source:  OpenStax, Educational psychology. OpenStax CNX. May 11, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11302/1.2
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