Ray  Gen, Ed. D.
Chapman University
EDUC 604
Teacher as Scholarly Practitioner: Action Research
Term B  2006 (April 4 - May 30)
Tuesday  5:00 pm - 9:30 pm (face-to-face & online)

Contact Information:
Dr. Ray Gen
gen@chapman.edu (turn in assignments - checked only weekly)
rgen@esusd.k12.ca.us (day)
raygen@earthlink.net (evening)
AOL Instant Message ID  docraygen (I’m online most evenings)
310.615.2662 ext 231 (office checked a few times a week)

I encourage you to contact me beyond the class meetings if you have any questions about the assignments. I have provided my contact information in the hope that you will use it if you so desire or need.  

Course Syllabus

Catalogue Description:
The purpose of this course is to acquaint candidates with the concepts of action research and to support them as they conduct an action research project in their schools and classrooms.  The course is designed to enable participants to understand the fundamental principles of action research, to locate the significance of the approach in everyday practice and educational policy and to carry out an action inquiry project either on one’s own practice or in conjunction with practitioners in the field.  The course will engage the participants in systematic inquiry into their own practice by helping them to frame appropriate questions, gather and interpret data, examine and analyze that data and find answers to the questions posed.  Master of Arts in Teaching candidates must complete an action research project and paper as part of their Demonstration of Mastery for the degree.


 The course is designed to provide an opportunity for practitioners to identify problems in their own classrooms and/or schools, to open them up to inquiry that involves systematic observation and/or collection of data, reflection and planned action.  Students will select a focus for their research that will inform their immediate efforts at teaching.  The ultimate goal is that the inquiry should lead to an improvement in practice and to an increased understanding of the issues, both theoretical and practical, that arise in the course of carrying out their research.

Class sessions are intended to provide a forum in which course members will

1. Explore together the philosophy underlying action research and the skills required to carry it out.  These include:
           a. Defining the issue in a format that is amendable to empirical investigation;
           b. Selecting appropriate techniques of observation;
           c. Evaluating alternative interpretations of the evidence obtained;
           d. Forming hypotheses about the effects of possible courses of action;
           e. Carrying out the chosen action in a systematic manner such that their consequences can be evaluated in the light of the goal set.

2.   Select a focus for their action research project.

3.   Report to classmates the status of ongoing inquiry.

4.   Provide feedback, support and constructive comment on the work of fellow course members.

While attention to the components of the research enterprise will be an important part of the course, the emphasis will be on making sense of the situations with which course members are concerned rather than on acquiring decontextualized skills in research design and prosecution.  Similarly, while course members will be expected to engage in systematic reading, the emphasis will be on readings related to the topic of inquiry rather than on reading from a pre-selected list on the topic of action research itself.

Participants are expected to have access to a field setting during the course and to develop a project that lends itself to action research.  For those outside of these experiences, every attempt will be made to provide opportunities for collaboration or for alternative projects.


Candidates will:
1.   Explore together the philosophy underlying action research and the skills required to carry it out by reading and discussing key texts by teacher researchers as well as the growing academic literature on the methods, politics, and ethics of action research and educational ethnography;

 2.   Develop skill in defining issues, framing questions, selecting appropriate techniques of observation, analyzing data, and sharing findings with various audiences;

3.   Select a focus for their action research and develop appropriate questions that will serve to guide their research project;

4.   Develop a plan of action for their inquiry;

5.   Establish a support group for their action research;

6.   Examine research related to the focus of their research;

7.   Draft a publishable article based on the research conducted


1.   What is Research
        a. Definitions
        b. Paradigms
                                 i.      Basic and Applied
ii.      Theoretical and Practical
iii.      Research on Teaching and Teacher Research
        c.   Approaches
                i.    Qualitative Methods
               ii.    Quantitative Methods
2.   History of Teacher Researchers and Action Research
3.   The Action Research Process
        a.   Select a focus
        b.   Collect data
        c.   Analyze and interpret data
        d.   Take action
        e.   Reflect
        f.    Continue/Modify
4.   Research Tools and Techniques
        a.   Types of Records
        b.   Language as a Tool in Recording
        c.   Artifacts
        d.   Questionnaires, Interviews and Focus Groups
5.   The Research Plan
        a.   Clarify the purposes
        b.   Determine the administrative and logistical aspects
        c.   Determine the approach
6.   Data Analysis
        a.   Purpose
        b.   Quantitative Analyses
        c.   Qualitative Analyses
7.   Review of Literature
8.   Writing up Research
9.   Ethics in Research

Required texts for candidates:

Johnson, A. (2005). A short guide to action research. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.  (ISBN: 0-205-41253-X )

*Charney, R.S.  (1997).  Habits of goodness: Case studies in the social curriculum.  Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.  (ISBN# 0-9618636-5-X)

 *Hubbard, R.S. & Power, B.M.  (2003).  The art of classroom inquiry: A handbook for teacher-researchers (Revised ed.).  Portsmouth, NH:
             Heinemann.    (ISBN# 0-325-00543-5)

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (Fifth ed.).  (2002).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  (ISBN# 1-55798-790-4)


Burnaford, G.E., Fischer, J., & Hobson, D. (Eds.).  (2001).  Teachers doing research: The power of action through inquiry (2nd ed.).  Lawrence
            Erlbaum Assoc.

 Cochron-Smith, M. & Lytle, S.L.  (Eds.).  (1993).  Inside/Outside: Teacher research and knowledge (Language and Literacy). New York:
            Teachers College Press. 

Croll, P.  (1986).  Systematic classroom observation: A guide for researchers and teachers.  Philadelphia: Falmer Press.

Daiker, D.A., & Mrenger, M.  (Eds.).  (1990).  The writing teacher as researcher: Essays in theory and practice of classroom research. 
Portsmouth, HA: Heinemann. 

Delgado-Gaitan, C.  (1993).  Researching change and changing the researcher.  Harvard Educational Review, 64 (4), 389-411. 

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.  (1994).  Handbook of qualitative research.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Eisner, E.  (1997).  The promise and perils of alternative forms of data representation.  Educational Researcher, 22 (7), 5-11.

Elliott, J.  (1991).  Action research for educational change.  Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press. 

Hopkins, D.  (2002).  A teacher’s guide to classroom research (3rd ed.).  Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

Hubbard, R., Power, B.M., Kader, S., Hubbard, R.S.  (1999).  Living the question: A guide for teacher researchers.  Stenhouse.

Lincoln, T.S., U Guba, E.G.  (1985).  Naturalistic enquiry.  New York: Sage.

Mills, G.  (2002).  Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher (2nd ed.).  Prentice Hall.

Olson, M.W.  (Ed.).  (1990).  Opening the door to classroom research.  Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Paley, V.G.  (1981).  Wally’s stories.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Paley, V.G.  (1984).  Boys and girls: Superheroes in the doll corner.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Paley, V.G.  (1986).  Mollie is three: Growing up in school.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Patterson, L., Sanata, C., Short, K., & Smith, K.  (1993).  Teachers are researchers: Reflection and action. Newark, DE: International Reading

Schon, D.  (1983).  The reflective practitioner.  New York: Basic. 

SooHoo, S.  (1989).  Teacher researcher.  Emerging change agent.  Paper presented ant he annual meeting of the American Educational Research
            Association.  San Francisco, CA. 

Yin, R.K.  (1994).  Case study research: Design and methods (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Zuber-Skerritt, O.  (1996).  New directions in action research.  London, UK: Falmer Press.


 Graduate students are expected to maintain a 3.0 (B) average, however A and B grades must be earned in the course through meeting the criteria for such grades as outlined by the instructor.  Students who earn a C+ or below in the course will be required to repeat the course in order to receive credit.


Research Log/Notebook

The major requirement for the course is the initiation and development of an action research project in an area of importance to the candidate’s educational practice.  To provide structure for the project’s development and to document the candidate’s action research process, each participant will keep an ongoing record of his/her work in the form of a Research log/notebook.  A log book is your journal or road map of where you've been. It is meant to serve as a guide for research when you finished with your degree. The Research log/notebook needs to include the following:

  1. The Question – this section includes a description of the process that led to the researcher’s question and a rationale behind choosing the question.
  2. Research Design – a complete step-by-step outline of the plan for conducting the research project including a time line.
  3. Literature Review/Related Research – a list of the references consulted and either the complete articles with sections highlighted for inclusion in final paper or note cards.
  4. Field Notes and Observations – if research project includes observing this section should include the original field notes as well as the transcribed, cooked and coded notes.
  5. Artifacts – appropriate artifacts collected or to be collected for the project.
  6. Journal – a personal journal that follows the process of the action research and established the researcher’s position in the research.  Entries do not necessarily have to be daily, but should be regular.
  7. Data Analysis – a description of how data will be analyzed once collected.
  8. Plan for Sharing – a brief outline of how the results of the action research project will be shared (Power Point, posters, multi-media) with the Chapman community.

Action Research Tasks

Literature Sources
Candidates will collect literature sources to include generic educational journals, field-specific journals, books, ERIC documents, internet websites and professional associations that address the candidate’s research topic. 

Data Collection 
Candidates will conduct observations using various observational tools (check list, anecdotal record, time sampling, event sampling, frequency count, or specimen description).  “Cook” the notes gathered (write interpretive comments soon after observation), code and write a brief analysis.

Analyze Action Research

As a class and individually, candidates will analyze previously written Action Research for comparison.

Share an Article 
Candidates will read an article from an educational journal describing an action research project conducted by the author(s) and prepare a Power Point presentation following a format similar to one that might be used for a final project presentation---
Define the research question
Discuss the rationale for choosing the question
·        Outline the research plan
Describe the outcomes, and
Reflect on the value of the project.

Final Reflection
Candidates will write a final reflection paper that answers the question: “How has my teaching changed as I have taken a researching stance toward it?”


Candidates will write the initial draft of the first three chapters of a paper based on their action research project.  The final paper will include all of the following components and must be completed in order to satisfy requirements for the Master of Arts in Teaching.

Class Info:

Back: Sharon, Cathlynn, Elina

Front: Catherine, Alex, Morgan, Vivian





Download Intro ppt

Teacher as Researcher

Chapman BlackBoard Link




This schedule is not “set in stone” but will serve as a guideline for our work together. We may need to make adjustments from time to time. Assignments may be added, changed or deleted based class needs. Please visit my web site often for updates and resources.

Major study units:

Unit 1 – Action Research
What is the historic and current look at the teacher as a researcher who uses classrooms as laboratories and students as collaborators.
·          The categories of research, the forms of action research and the approaches to action research.
·          The roadblocks to action research.
·          The benefits to the reading professional of conducting action research.
·          Cyclical nature of action research.

Unit 2 – Determining your Question
Where do you start?
How can you determine which intervention program to use with whom?
·          What sorts of assessments are most successful?  How does one determine that?
·          How can instruction be aligned with assessment results

Unit 3 – Collecting Data
What observation techniques work best and in what situations (narratives, anecdotal records, diaries, audiotapes, videotapes, mapping, checklists, rating scales, time sampling, event sampling).
·          What about questionnaires and interviews?
·          Who should collect the data?

Unit 4 – Designing the Research
·          Clarifying the purposes of the research.
·          Looking at administrative and logistical aspects
·          Determining the approach – quantitative or qualitative
                    Quantitative – Descriptive, correlational or group comparison research
        Qualitative – Historical, ethnography or case study

Unit 5 – Data Analysis -
Purpose of data analysis
Quantitative Analyses
        o       Descriptive statistics
Inferential statistics
Qualitative Analyses
Computer Applications

 Unit 6 -  Review of Literature/Related Research
Sources – Primary and Secondary
Appropriate sources of reading related research
·          Research-based literature about reading/literacy instruction for a diverse student population

 Unit 7 – Ethics in Research
·          Legislation
·          APA Ethical Principles

 Unit 8 – Writing up your Findings
·          Using metaphors
·          Writing to a particular audience
·          Format


100%-90%         A
            89-80                   B
79-70                   C
69-below              F


Rubric Scoring

Rubric Scoring – General Guide

 6 (Truly Exceptional; Superior; Transcendental) The student demonstrates truly exceptional outcomes.  The student transcends most other users. The student demonstrates superlative abilities, superior skills and exceptional attitude. Student products offer unique perspectives. The student demonstrates exceptional intuition when using the application. The student has mastered the application and could teach others how to use it.

 5 (Good; Exceptional; Above-Average) The student demonstrates exceptional outcomes.  The student has better skills than most users. The student demonstrates good abilities, exceptional skills and above average usage. Student products offer exceptional perspectives. The student demonstrates good intuition when using the application.  The student knows what the application is capable of doing and in time can use it with alacrity.

 4 (Accurate; Appropriate; Apt; Suitable; Competent; Common) The student demonstrates accurate and suitable outcomes.  The student is average in comparison. The student demonstrates suitable abilities, competent skills and appropriate attitude. Student products offer common perspectives. The student demonstrates occasional intuitive abilities when using the application.  The student understands the application and has basic skills in that application but still has many questions as to its advanced functions.

3 (Minimal; Rudimentary; Simple; Elementary; Limited) The student demonstrates rudimentary outcomes.  The student is an average or just below average user. The student demonstrates elementary abilities, rudimentary skills and indifferent attitudes. Student products are limited in perspective. The student demonstrates limited intuitive abilities when using the application.  The student outcomes demonstrate simple usage. 

2 (Sub-standard; Minimal; Inappropriate; Inaccurate) The student demonstrates sub-standard outcomes.  The student is a below average user. The student demonstrates minimal abilities, sub-standard skills and poor attitudes. Student products do not work well and are inappropriate. The student demonstrates a lack of intuitive abilities when using the application.  The student outcomes demonstrate minimal ability and usage..

1 (Negligible; Off-task; Inappropriate; Faulty) The student demonstrates sub-standard outcomes.  The student is well below the average user.  The student demonstrates negligible abilities, sub-standard skills and inappropriate attitudes. Student products do not work or are off-task. The student demonstrates a lack of intuitive abilities.  The student outcomes demonstrate a faulty understanding of the application.