The following four-step process will help you plan a small action research project to explore your questions about the presentational mode of communication, implement action plans for helping students develop effective strategies for completing presentational tasks, and collect information to assess your instructional innovations. Before you begin this section, you can go to About Action Research for an introduction to the process of designing and conducting action research projects. If you are taking this workshop for credit, you will need to complete one action research project from any one of the eight workshop sessions as an assignment.
If you would like to focus on presentational communication for your action research project, use the following questions and examples to help frame your thinking and shape your project.
- What issue concerning instruction and presentational communication do you want to describe, document, and investigate? For example, you could examine the role of feedback in improving your students' presentational skills, or you could explore the role of audience in the design of your presentational tasks. This will be the focus of your action research project.
- Why is presentational communication important to you as a teacher? How have you approached the design of presentational tasks in the past? How do you want to change that approach and why? What has been your experience with providing ongoing feedback to your students? Are you satisfied with the students' performance and/or your instructional strategies? Why or why not?
- What is your research question concerning the presentational mode of communication? The research question will help you investigate your area of focus and understand it better. For example:
- How can I introduce an authentic audience into my presentational communication tasks?
- How would using real-world tasks affect the quality of students' written or spoken presentations?
- How can I change the way I provide feedback? How would this change affect the quantity and quality of student-written presentations?
- What is the action plan for carrying out your project? Depending on your action research question, the following are some questions you might ask yourself to help you develop an action plan:
- What feedback strategies do I want to experiment with in my classroom?
- What types of presentational communication tasks will I use and how will I involve an audience in these tasks?
- How much time do I need to monitor and document the effects of my action plan?
- How will I measure students' reaction to my new feedback approach or newly designed presentational communication tasks?
- How can I create an information gap between my student presenters and the target audience? How can I enable my students to fill this gap?
- What information will you need to collect to answer your research question and assess your project? For example, you could keep a record of your assessments of students' presentational communication over time, analyze student writing samples for quality and/or quantity of production, distribute student questionnaires and self-assessments of presentational communication tasks, or compare work samples before and after the implementation of your action plan. You should have at least two sources of information.
- How much time will you allot for your action research? That is, when and for how long do you plan to collect information before you're ready to begin analyzing it? Develop a timeline for implementing your action plan.
- After collecting your information, how will you analyze it? That is, how will you organize and review the information you have collected to understand it better and help you answer your research question? For example, will you use assessment rubrics for documenting growth over time? Summaries of interview data? Comparisons of self-assessments? A key for specific language or textual features (e.g., verb formation, main ideas and supporting details, spelling, topic development and coherence, and effectiveness in addressing an audience)?
- How will you display the information so that it can be shared with others? For example, you can use charts, graphs, and/or tables. The goal is to organize your data in a way that presents a clear description of what you investigated.
Note: The final step of the action research project is to reevaluate your teaching practice based on your research data. Because it takes time to complete an action research project, it may not be possible to do this step during the workshop. However, if you are taking this workshop for credit, you will need to complete one action research project during or after the course of the workshop to submit as an assignment.
If you are taking the workshop for graduate credit, submit your completed action research project on any one of the eight session topics.
- Based on what you learned through your data analysis, how will you rethink your presentational communication tasks? What changes will you make to your lessons the next time you address presentational communication and prepare to provide students with task formats and feedback? If you had to research presentational communication again, what changes would you make to your action research plan?
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