Initial and Reflective blog post
Essential Question–What is classroom research and how can it improve technology integration in my classroom?
Classroom research is primarily qualitative. It involves educators (teachers, specialists, administrators, curriculum designers, etc.) taking intuitive and experiential information to the next level. Quantitative information, numerical data, for example, may be used in classroom research. Experimental research may be designed based on information that developed into measuring tools created across locations (from one town to across the nation) and has as its root dependent versus independent stimuli and predictable responses. The key to classroom research is observation (taken on through many formats) and questioning what is and why of what is right there in front of the educator as the starting point.
Qualitative classroom researchers are more concerned with how their own students respond in this time and place to a particular situation. How do “people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning they attribute to their experiences” (Merriam, 2009, p. 5). Applied research may take on the form of action research so that a specific problem is identified within a setting. As educators, we begin with an identified problem and create a systematic set of ways to gather information to evaluate that problem. We are contributing to the world of educational research, one case at a time.
A case may be the impact of a new blended reading program on quantitative scores. But a phenomenon; such as students engaging in reading outside that program; may arise that would bring up another question on the pathway to finding out so much more about quantitative scores and what the mean in that educational environment so that we can further enhance those positive effects.
Taking the scenario of the addition of a reading program a step further, what questions do I want to ask as a classroom researcher? This new technology tool for reading is said to do this wonderful thing, and fulfill that wonderful goal. However, what do I notice that it does for my students, in my setting? So I may want to form a brief questionnaire to ask teachers (maybe I am the support educator, and not directly teaching and using that computer program) who work with the students in the environment a question that has pragmatic meaning for them and the students (Schwarz, 2012). The question needs to be both broad enough for the respondent to provide valuable information I had not foreseen, while narrow enough to get at the effects that program system has on the emotions and motivation of students using it.
As I read through the article by Duke, Martin, and Akers, 2013) from the perspective of a Reading Specialist, I believe classroom research may be summed up by thinking about what a research-tested computer reading program actually tested. “What exactly did the research find? With what sample(s) was the research conducted?” (Duke, et. al., 2013, p. 12). These questions are vital when I am considering whether say the video clips that build background knowledge for our students are enough for our students, or whether further analogy needs to be added for some students. I am excited to think about studying the impact of reading motivation, engagement, or transfer to other classes the blended reading program approach may or may not have on our students in a combined 7th and 8th grade class. I will be identifying themes or patterns that arise rather than focusing simply on experimental cause-effect relationships.
I have conducted classroom research one time, last spring. As I reflect on that experience, I learned so much just by observing, collecting student samples, interviewing teachers, and researching the curriculum posted online for the teachers to follow as they teach science in a dual language program. I recently shared this information with the new principal, who was very glad to read about out school in very recent real-time. Also, I already recognize two names in the blog roll, so I know I will learn much, much more about the impact of technology on learning during this semester.
Duke, N.K., Martin, N.M., and Akers, A.T. (April, 2013). 10 Things every literacy educator and school librarian should know about research. Teacher Librarian 40(4).
Merriam, S.B. (2009). Qualitative Research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Schwarz, N. (2012). Why Researchers should think “real-time”: A Cognitive rationale. In M.R. Mehl and T. S. Conner. Handbook of research methods for studying daily life. New York, NY: Guilford Press