3. A note on Action Research

Even the best CPD can only be as good as its sustainable impact on practice. Action Research, in its simplest form, occurs when a teacher identifies a strategy that he or she wishes to try in their own unique context, using reflection and observation to record effects on their learners, themselves and their colleagues. These reflections help to modify strategies, leading to an environment of continually evolving practice. A number of the activities suggested in the personalised report include elements of Action Research.

Base-line measurements

Base-line measurements can be very effective at noticing and recording change yet need not be complex. Gathering these at the beginning of your activity will provide useful evidence of impact. The following are some examples of everyday events that can operate as baseline measures if identified as such and recorded.

From everyday events:

  • Teachers’ perceptions: This can include generalised perceptions on overall lesson success, learner engagement and learning outcomes. A valuable measure is recording teacher levels of post-lesson satisfaction. A simple, consistent recording method needs to be found, such as a field-diary or teaching journal or a ‘rating scale’ with notes. Teacher perceptions would also be used to evaluate some of the more specific suggestions below.
  • Reading for Meaning: This could include comprehension tasks, although this activity consists of a number of complex processes which could obscure early signs of progress in some learners. Engaging in the reading process and eliciting understanding through questioning and discussion can provide an insight into early improvements in dyslexia-SpLD.
  • Free Writing: A number of different skills can be quickly assessed, including spelling; handwriting and letter formation; concentration; motivation; creativity; sequencing of ideas; quantity of writing; originality of ideas; flow of plot and overall presentation. The Action Researcher should select perhaps 2 or 3 themes only, in order to simplify the recording process.
  • Story Telling: This can be an excellent way to assess a number of skills without going through the medium of writing, which can be a significant barrier for many learners. Confidence, sequencing, vocabulary retrieval, integration of experiences and learning, assessing ideas for relevance and generating descriptive colour are all examples of story-telling skills.
  • Engagement in on-task discussion: This can be an indicator of classroom strategies which are engaging and stimulating a learner, thus reducing unwanted classroom behaviour.
  • Longer term measures: National Strategy levels and formal or examined assessments are measurements that show impact over time. They are therefore particularly useful when assessing the impact of a strategy that has become embedded in practice.

Longer term formal measures:

Although Action Research can be undertaken by the individual, all inquiry is strengthened by dialogue amongst colleagues. Joining other team members in their exploration of effective strategies for supporting the Dyslexic-SpLD learner is perhaps the most powerful way of embedding excellent practice within each unique environment.

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