It is often said that good teachers are good students. Action research, also known as collaborative inquiry, action learning, and emancipatory research, provides a valuable tool for teachers to become students of their own teaching practices. Action research helps teachers and schools engage in a continual process of quality improvement through inquiry and reflection.
Did it work? What are the results? These are the Siren song of educational evaluation. But, beware. We can easily find ourselves in dangerous territory when we dedicate all our evaluation resources toward monitoring outcomes and pay little or no attention to implementation.
Whether results are awesome, disappointing, or mixed, we can neither take credit nor resolve challenges unless we can describe what was actually put into place that may have caused those results. When schools see disappointing student outcomes, the collective instinct may be to jettison whatever new program or practice is being tested. Without having carefully defined and monitored implementation, we can’t tell if the idea was bad or we just did it poorly.