An Outline for Action Research at HOBY
For this first assignment, I want to give a preview of the idea of action research at HOBY. To understand action research, though, we first have to take a look at what it is that we are trying to do in our organization. When all of us think of research, we think of mad scientists performing scientific experiments in their laboratories and then communicating the results to us. In this case, however, the scientific experiment being conducted is quite different from that example. Action research can best be defined as more informal, practitioner-based research given on a specific topic. It is with this in mind that we can continue to move forward with the innovation plan to decide what kind of research we would like to do on it. I want to take you through a four-phase program in this course that will spell each step that we plan to take in the action research process. Let’s begin!
Phase 1—The Planning Stage
In this first phase of action research, we can look to the future as a guide to show us where we want to be. The first topic that must be addressed at HOBY is, “What is the topic of our research and the purpose of our study?” In a very brief form, I want to take the topics of my previous literature review and use that as a basis for what to assess from here. The topic of my action research will be “digital literacy” for all of our volunteers. As I wrote the last literature review, this areas were identified as a large area that needed improvement in our organization. The next area that we can decide on will be the purpose of this study. The purpose of this study will be to identify methods of assessment that we can use to improve digital literacy in the HOBY organization. From here, the next question becomes, “What is our research question?” In this case, that fundamental question can be stated below:
“What level of impact, does the amount of training volunteers receive have on their understanding of professional learning at their seminar?”
So, with this in mind, we have to next decide what kind of information we want to collect for our study.
Phase 2—The Acting Stage
In the second phase of this process, we next have to decide about data collection and how much of it we want to collect in our organization. The best idea that I can think of is to have a mixed-method research design. To put it in another way, a triangulation mixed-methods design could best describe this research. This study will have both quantitative and qualitative research to ensure that all corners of information collection are being met. It will be imperative to have qualitative research that gathers all of what we are describing in the previous literature review and what can be improved in the process. At the same time, quantitative research could provide a good pathway for our research to be taken into consideration. For example, psychographics give good insight into the psychological mechanisms and numbers to point them out. Existing statistics will also be used to help decipher and gather this new data. These statistics are generalized numerical measurements, i.e. demographics of volunteers, that can help in the research design as existing pieces of information.
The key factor in the literature review in this course will be to design the appropriate measurement mechanisms that would generate the most results for HOBY. With this in mind, the literature review that I want to write will consist of glimpses into quantitative and qualitative research that would build on the framework of what was done before. “Digital literacy” will be both a title and theme that will involve using the previous training methods as a basis to expand on. We might also want to look at HOBY’s Training Institute as a basis for which to improve our professional learning program. The HOBY organization has had a long-running training program, called “T.I.” that seeks to train our volunteers on principles that pertain to their seminar site. This action research will play a role in the professional learning and innovation plans by extending what we are trying to accomplish.
The most effective measurements will most likely be interviews and surveys that can give us insight into what our volunteers are really thinking. I think that a narrative study would be a good measurement that HOBY can use to look at our research in a long pattern of interviews that we will have to conduct. A narrative study would look at the written and spoken words of our subjects to compare the patterns of our data. A good number of volunteers, perhaps 10, could participate in our study to assess digital literacy at HOBY by being interviewed. Each candidate will be asked a series of descriptive questions by spoken word and then will be asked other questions on paper, in essay form, to clarify what it is that we are trying to find out.
Furthermore, we could use logico-inductive reasoning to assess the patterns and trends in the information that we gain in our surveys and interviews. A survey will be written later on to gain more quantitative analysis about our levels of the three-key topics that I discussed above. We should also look at doing a case study in the future to both determine our levels of staff engagement in the future, but also looking at how our implementation process of the innovation plan went. I feel that these key metrics can help us see and identify the key traits we are seeking to measure in the research. The literature review will also help us determine the correct route we want to take for future assessment.
Phase 3—The Developing Stage
After we have collected all of our information, it will be important to determine if any additional information is needed to finish our action research study. Do we need more volunteers to take our survey? Do we need to interview more volunteers? What kind of tally do we want to take? From here, we could really determine if more professional learning is needed to improve the outcome we described above. The topics of “digital literacy” could be assessed based on what we have received. In this stage, the key is to analyze all of the data that was collected and see what our results are. At a later time, a rubric and computer software system will be created with HOBY in mind to decipher this collected data. A collection of graphics, like graphs, could also further specify what we are eager to show others. If the results are positive, we are doing a good job, but if they are negative, then we need to improve our professional learning program for our staff.
Phase 4—The Reflecting Stage
In this final stage of the action research study, we can determine the steps that we need to take to elevate our organization. What does the result say to us? How well are we engaging our volunteers? With all of this data collection, recommendation will be made to all of HOBY’s management about things we need to improve on. It is our hypothesis at this point that giving more support for our staff in the form of professional learning will improve the quality of technology training at HOBY. The biggest fear that I have is, “Will everyone get on board with this plan?” Next year, I want to travel to California to get my message across and hopefully win over all of the administrators in the HOBY organization. They key is to win over their heart, then their mind. For all of us, this quantitative and qualitative data will serve as a framework to implement this plan in our organization. Reflection is important, and this assignment is no exception. With regards to “digital literacy,” HOBY is well on our way to improving the state of training for our staff. This action research outline will help to spell out what we are trying to improve in the organization. In closing, HOBY can move forward into the future while using the past as a guide.
Mertler, C. A. (2012). Action research: Improving schools and empowering educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.