Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Newman, J. M. (n.d./1998, June). Action research: Exploring the tensions of teaching. [WWW document].

This article describes an approach that the author uses with a course on action research for teachers, using Tony Hillerman's novel Sacred Clowns as a tool to help the teachers understand the components of action research. By using the fictional investigations of the characters, she is able to illustrate the difficulty in trying to impose a linear structure on this type of research since it does not follow the patterns typically associated with traditional research. An action research project may begin in the middle, at the end, or at the beginning; the data that is collected may seem to have no relationship to other pieces of data until after the project has been underway for a considerable period of time. Moreover, since this research does not follow a linear pattern, she states that it is important to habituate the researcher and those involved in the research to journal writing or reflective logs as a process for bringing order. As the students read the novel, she has them also read action research studies: MA theses, doctoral dissertations, articles and anthologies. When she has her students correlate what happens in the novel to research documents, she finds that her students have extreme difficulty in moving away from a linear process defined in the samples to open their minds to the lack of linear thinking in the novel and therefore in action research. She feels that this process helps the students to find the connections that are much more difficult to find in action research than in traditional research. She concludes that the most difficult aspect of action research is the confrontation of self. Everyone in the action research project will be forced to confront their own practice, their own belief systems.

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