The following four-step process will help you plan a small action research project to explore your questions about the interpretive mode of communication, implement action plans for improving the interpretive abilities of your students, 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 interpretive 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 interpretive communication do you want to describe, document, and investigate? For example, you could examine the use of multiple texts in a lesson focusing on interpretation, or you could explore your students' interpretive skills. This will be the focus of your action research project.
- Why is interpretation important to you as a teacher? How have you approached the use of texts in the past? How do you want to change that approach and why? What has been your experience with using various texts with 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 interpretive mode of communication? The research question will help you investigate your area of focus and understand it better. For example:
- What strategies do my students use to interpret texts?
- How do my students react to using multiple texts during a unit of study?
- What does an interpretive discussion look like in my classes? What are the participation patterns, and how are interpretations co-constructed between teacher and students and among the students themselves?
- 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:
- How will I incorporate multiple texts into my lessons? What steps do I need to take to make this change to my teaching?
- How will I help my students to move beyond comprehension to interpretation? What instructional strategies will I use?
- How will I conduct an interpretive discussion? How do I prepare for this type of discussion?
- How will I assist my students in using the target language during an interpretive discussion and ensure that they do not fall back on English?
- What information will you need to collect to answer your research question and assess your project? For example, you could record your observations by taking field notes, keep a teaching journal, distribute student questionnaires and self-assessments, or gather student work samples. 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 percentages based on responses to a questionnaire? Themes from a journal? Summaries of interview data?
- 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 teaching practice? What changes will you make to your lessons the next time you address interpretation and use texts in your classes? If you had to research interpretive communication again, what changes would you make to your action research plan?
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