Teacher research, also called action research, is a professional activity that teachers engage in to find answers to their questions about how children learn. Teacher research supports teacher learning and action to improve student outcomes. Teacher researchers use a process that begins with questions that teachers have about what they know, observe, and experience in their work with students. What practices work best with learners and how do I know? The resulting "answers" or approaches to teaching that promote learning are supported by a structured and reflective "teacher look" at their own students in their own classrooms and schools. In the research process, teachers develop a question for investigation, collect data, analyze and reflect on their data(findings), and take action.
Teacher/Action research projects:
• begin with questions about teaching and learning. Teachers' questions can stem from specific concerns, problems, or "knowings" that teachers have, want to build support for, or explore. Teachers can learn from their questions about themselves, their practices, or assumptions. Other questions might focus on students, their families and communities including their interests, responses, or perceptions. School policies or programs are other areas that could be the focus of teacher research,
• collect data about the research topic. Researchers decide what information they consider relevant to their question and how they will collect and organize it. Data could be in the form of observation notes, surveys, interviews, journals, test scores, grades, student work, and/or videos,
• analyze data. Data can be interpreted through a variety of methods that could include summaries of interviews, tallies of responses, rubrics used to evaluate, pre- and post-test scores, pre- and post-interviews, and/or counting of varied types of responses or reactions. The possibilities are considerable and depend on the nature of the research question; and
• take action. As a result of analyzing and interpreting data, teachers' findings can be used to make decisions for action that can include continuation of current approaches or changes in instructional practices. Taking action can also mean researching new questions that grow out of the learning gained from the research process.
Teacher research is cyclic and represents an authentic way of assessing instruction. Teachers become instructional leaders by researching their own questions about how students learn.