Having looked into theory I found the meaningful definition which in my view reflects all the key issues of Action Research in the book ‘Doing Action Research in English Language Teaching’ by Anne Burns. Action Research is described as a reflective process done by a teacher aiming to identify and solve a problem or bring improvement through ‘taking a self-reflective, critical, and systematic approach to exploring your own teaching contexts’ [Burns, 2]. The author emphasises that Action Research is based on information collected systematically and it does not follow ‘a fixed pattern to solve a straightforward technical problem’ [Burns, 6]. Action Research usually represents a cycle which may be repeated as many times as necessary to solve a problem.
I have already done something close to Action Research trying to improve setting up tasks (you can find a succession of reflective practices here – then here – after that here – and finally here). I went through the following experiential learning cycle: description – analysis – generalization – action points. Eventually, it was very effective because I saw my major mistakes and action points helped me to concentrate on important issues not to repeat my mistakes. Describing this experience on my blog I benefited from other teachers commenting and suggesting ideas. As a result, my teaching has improved a tiny bit and I will definitely continue doing it, but next time I will use the cycle by Kemmis and McTaggart which is represented in the book by Anne Burns.
Pondering critically on my teaching I have several issues which need Action Research to be done. First of all I would work on making lessons smoother with all the parts being logically connected and properly linked. To do this I plan to record myself (with my students’ permission) to notice what exactly I say to lead students from one part to another. I will make notes during lessons on what I feel proceeding through lesson, whether there are any inconsistencies between what I expected and what actually happened and how the students react to each linking. Eventually, I expect to get the best ways of linking lesson parts which work for each group and this will help me plan easily clear and logical lessons which will look cohesive and solid.
In that way I will explore my weak points which actually may never end because perfection knows no limits and teaching is developing rapidly finding new approaches, better activities, revolutionary frameworks etc. Another aim I want to reach using Action Research is to implement something really new, for instance, introducing blended learning into my practice.
Speaking about the impact of Action Research on learners, I would say that in case of the research being a success, learners’ needs and interests are taken into consideration and therefore learners feel that their teacher cares about the outcomes which also appear to be better. Teachers themselves improve their practice and become more conscious about their teaching, they get some theoretical basis and also can contribute into wider teaching practice sharing experience with colleagues.
I would like to encourage you to do it with me and share your experience!