This is the outline plan for an Action Research project for #mscmmel. I have posted it so that any critical friends can comment. I need all the help I can get, believe me!
I work in a FE college in the UK, where I teach the Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) syllabus from Level 1 to 4. The learners I teach could be bracketed into three categories. Firstly, full-time groups mainly consisting of 16-19yr olds, some who are school leavers, some who have transferred from 6th form college, and some who have progressed within the college. In the same groups there are some adult returners. Secondly, there are part-time, mainly adult groups, some supported by employers on apprentice schemes, and some who are funding themselves in order to up-skill. The final group are 14-16yr olds who are being offered vocational subjects to complement the GSCE offer in school. To add to this diverse mix, “70% of all learners […] come from areas categorised as being disadvantaged” (Oldham College Strategic Plan, 2011-2014).
Action Research Context:
Models of Action Research suggest that it is a cyclical process. For example:
- decide on a general idea;
- decide ‘field of action’;
- fact-find; general plan of action (in achievable steps);
- first action step – monitor effects;
- evaluate data;
- revise plan
(Kemmis and McTaggart, 1998).
This cylical process can be followed in the research I have done so far:
(1) My initial idea was to develop a resource which could support teaching a skills-based computer unit to large groups with differentiated prior knowledge. (2) I developed a series of video tutorials for spread-sheets which followed Mayer’s Principles for the design of Multimedia Learning. (3) The resource was introduced to one group of learners. (4) Interestingly, the learners who seemed to welcome the intervention most were those from a particular socio-economic group: female adult returners. They enjoyed “learning at [their] own pace”and “being able to stop, pause, or re-play” the resource. (5) This would suggest support for Mayer’s principle of individual differences. In this initial cycle, my focus was on Mayer’s principles for instructional design, and I had not particularly considered the ‘individual difference principle’, so it was a surprising outcome. It had been in my mind that the resource would be as, or more, useful for the ‘Youtube generation’.
(6) Having completed the first ‘round’ of action research, my findings have encouraged me to revise the plan to focus on how and why multimedia can support different groups of learners. This will be useful for my own teaching practice, and also for the institutional and wider context, by making a ‘claim to knowledge’ (McNiff and Whitehead, 2010)
- Develop an instructional vodcast using Mayer’s design principles, as an intervention in order to…
- Evaluate the results in relation to learners’ individual differences in cognitive style
The purpose of the research is to determine if particular groups of learners engage more or less with multimedia resources. Thus, the analysis will be mainly qualitative, ie. students will be interviewed individually and in groups. Some quantitative methods may be used, for example how many times the resource was accessed, both in and outside college.
I will be linking my claim to knowledge by critically engaging with previous research. To do this I will conduct a literary review which will consider the following areas:
- The Oldham College Strategic Plan, 2011-2014
- The Intelligent College: A Think Tank Report
- Bernstein: knowledge transmission, invisible pedagogies
- Meyer and Land: ‘troublesome knowledge’
Learning Teaching Theory/Practice
- Mayer’s Design Principles, particularly the individual difference principle
- Adaptive/Blended/Flexible learning
- Cognitive learning styles
- Bird, T., 2011, ‘The Impact on Learning of iTunesU Open Educational Resources, Open University
Action Research Theory
- Friesen (2008) Emancipatory
- Nixon (1981) Own context
- Conole and Oliver (2007): Organisational, Socio-cultural
- Kemmis/McTaggart: social, reflective
- Testing against previous research (see above)
- Bennet, S., Oliver, M., (2011) , Talking back to theory: the missed opportunities in learning technology research, Research in Learning Technology, , Vol 19, No 3 pp179-189
- Being aware of my own values
- Critical awareness
I will be asking learners about their socio-economic backgrounds and prior learning experiences. This will be sensitive information. Therefore, it is important that participants are aware that confidentiality will be maintained. Permission will be requested before conducting interviews.
I will be writing the research for a wider audience, and in order that the research evidence be accepted, it is important that I take all steps possible to eliminate bias. I am the researcher, and I will also be developing the resource. In addition, I teach or have taught most accounting students in the college at the present time. It is important that I am mindful of the risk at each stage of the process. Where possible, I will take practical steps to minimise bias. For example, by using a group I am minimally involved with for the intervention and having an independent person conduct the oral interviews.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
- Would you find the results of this research useful?
- Are there any questions that you would like to see answered?
- Have you undertaken research in this area yourself?
- Have you read any academic articles/sources which might be relevant?
- Any other comments?
Your contributions are very welcome.