A Buffalo State Contingent recently presented on Action Research at the NAPDS conference in Orlando. Follow the link for more information.
The Buffalo State PDS Consortium actively promotes action research throughout the Consortium. The key to our success has been demystifying the action research process. Using Emily Calhoun's definition of action research as "a fancy way of saying let's study what's happening at our school and decide how to make it a better place," the Consortium has designed a standardized process that takes the fear out of conducting research.
The collaborative model pools the strengths of mentoring teachers, principals, college faculty, and teacher candidates to help meet the needs of the PreK through 12th grade learners. All partner schools are encouraged to apply for mini-grants from the Center of Excellence in Urban and Rural Education at BS to conduct action research on a topic of their choice based on school or classroom needs. Mini-grant funds are awarded for supplies, substitute teacher pay, instructional materials, literature, software, technology, and for support of the research process in the school. In addition to funding, the Consortium provides college support in the form of faculty expertise for research design, graduate student assistance for data analysis, and action research workshops for getting started. This fall, based on the request of our membership, partners who have successfully published their action research will present a workshop on sharing their results beyond the Consortium.
Once the action research is completed, partner schools use a formalized evaluation process to measure the effectiveness of their project. Graduate Students in Method of Educational Research (EDU 689) assist partner schools in tabulating and analyzing the results of the evaluations. After the evaluation is completed, the action research projects are shared and celebrated at the annual PDS kick off retreat. All action researchers participate in a poster session and then give a presentation highlighting their specific projects. Afterwards, the presentation and handouts are posted on the Buffalo State PDS website for easy access by partners who may be interested in conducting a similar project. On an action research survey given to the entire Consortium, 70% of respondents indicated that they planned on conducting an action research project after seeing the retreat presentations. Other partners, not interested in conducting action research, may simply access the online data to directly implement the researched projects in their classrooms. Either way, the Consortium promotes the spread of best practices throughout all 45 of its partner schools both in person and on the web.
The action research model at the BS PDS has been very successful. In a recent survey, 89% of our past action researchers responded that conducting action research through CEURE supported PDS mini-grants has encouraged them to conduct other action research in their classroom. On respondent wrote, "This experience took the fear out of action research. On completing this project, I was confident to participate in further research." Another responded, "We have developed a district wide class that we are teaching to spread the action research movement." Truly the BS PDS mini grant system is working towards demystifying the action research process for our partner schools. As more action research is conducted, our partners continue to improve teaching strategies and philosophies, and reflect on their practice for the benefit of the young learner.