Action Research

Goals for Session

Participants will:

  • Determine how action research can be used to improve students’ experiences and outcomes.
  • Structure an action research project to use in your own schools

Note: This was conceptualized as a 90-minute workshop; however, you can modify the timeline to meet the needs of the audience.

Materials Needed:

  • Steps in the Action Research handout
  • Defining the Focus Area tool
  • Exploring the Focus Area tool





  1. Talk about the definition of action research and the benefits that come from it.
  2. Ask participants to share their previous experiences with action research regardless of the context.
  3. Use the Steps in Action Research handout from this toolkit and walk people through the five steps. Point out where data is used (steps 2 and 4).

20 Minutes

Work Time 


  1. Give participants focus area choices:
    1. Math
    2. Literacy
    3. College readiness
    4. Useful assessments
    5. Student engagement
    6. Study skills
  2. Have participants choose one of the areas given to work on.
  3. Put them in groups by focus area and hand out the Defining and Exploring the Focus Area tools.
  4. Have them read the Defining the Focus Area handout. Then use the Exploring the Focus Area tool to discuss what is going on related to this focus area in their own schools.
  5. Ask each participant to formulate a problem individually, using the Exploring the Focus Area tool.
  6. Ask them to pair up to provide feedback to each other on the selected problem.

40 Minute

  1. Present these three sources of data:
    1. Existing data that can be compiled
    2. Research findings from books, articles, and reports
    3. Data that needs to be collected
  2. Ask participants to spend a few minutes thinking about the sources that might help them better understand their problems.
  3. Ask a few people to share their problems and the types of data they might use to cast light on it.
  4. Open up the discussion for questions about the process.

20 Minutes

  1. Remind participants of the importance of waiting until they have reviewed all their data before selecting an action.
  2. In their small groups, have them consider:
    1. What kinds of action might be taken based on their identified problems?
    2. What might be indicators of success?
  3. Ask people to share their ideas.

30 Minutes



  1. Ask people if they have any questions about the process.
  2. Encourage them to try action research.
  3. Thank them for their participation.

5 Minutes

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