Volume 8, Issue 3     Editorial (1)
Teacher Action Research: Studies Informing Practice In 1999 I decided to launch a teacher action research pilot study that investigated applications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) to shape and inform teaching practices and instructional strategies. The purpose of the study was to identify, document, and promote effective real-world applications of MI theory in foreign and second language classrooms. I invited participants by posting a notice on an educational listserv. Much to my surprise twenty K-12 teachers responded. Even more surprising was the fact that fifteen teachers from six states, were active participants throughout the nine weeks of the study. There was no grant to underwrite costs; no stipend that served as an incentive; only dedicated, hard-working teachers who wanted to improve their teaching and hopefully, enhance their students’ learning. Results of the study indicated that teachers were profoundly affected by conducting action research and engaging in reflective practices: They felt that their teaching experienced a shift in paradigm to a more learner-centered classroom; they were once again energized and enthusiastic about their pedagogy; and they felt that they were able to reach more students. So how then does teacher action research contribute to the overall educational process? The papers presented in this issue portray a very optimistic view of classroom research and its role in the construction of new knowledge, i.e., an educational process. Some of the topics included are an educator’s pedagogical growth, students as co-researchers, measuring dispositions related to teaching, and helping a new teacher manage time more appropriately. I am heartened when I read the breadth and depth of current research being undertaken by both novice and experienced educators. What is particularly encouraging is that we clearly see the professional development of reflective practitioners. Educators examine a particular phenomenon that is indigenous to their respective classrooms. In an age of accountability and “No Child Left Behind” it is imperative that educators realize the value of conducting action research. Clearly, this line of robust inquiry addresses the call for schools to be “connected to instructional practices based on scientifically-based research.” Teachers engaged in classroom research typically become leaders in their schools. Often their work is shared within the school district and many go on to present their findings at local, state, and in some cases, national conference settings. These are sometimes presented as workshops or poster sessions. The relationship that forms between the classroom teacher and the university academician provides a very fertile ground for additional work. Once this takes place, these schools are frequently the sites for Professional Development Schools (PDS) and serve as excellent resources for field experience for pre-service teachers. It’s a win-win situation all the way around. Finally, of primary importance in teacher action research is sharing findings, i.e., what one learned. This collection of papers further advances efforts to highlight the importance and impact of classroom-based teacher action research to improve teaching and learning.Marjorie Hall Haley, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education
George Mason University, VA
See CFP for the next Teacher Action Research issue, Fall 2005.