viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009

Limitations and ethical issues

To carry out my action research project I found a number of different constraints in the research process at the school where I work. In order to solve these problems, I thought about the possible solutions that could be more effective for my students, the school, and I as a professional and as a teacher who was willing to do research in the classroom. I was also facing some ethical considerations to make this particular research project feasible, useful and reliable. My intention in this document is to mention the constraints I dealt with when I started carrying out the research project I decided to do. There were also some ethical considerations that I include.

Among the negative aspects I came across to carry out my action research project was the time I was able to spend planning, finding instruments to collect data, analyzing the data, and all the other processes necessary to make and implement my project. At that moment, I had many responsibilities at the school; I was a teacher, I was the head of the English department, and I was the Elementary coordinator, which means that I had to plan and teach classes, supervise teachers, talk to students’ parents, lead meetings, attend meetings with the school directors, organize activities in elementary school, write different kinds of reports, and many other duties. I was concerned about the time I actually had to dedicate to the research project.

Another concern I had when carrying out this project was narrowing the research topic so that it was not too general and not too specific, and most important, that it was possible to obtain results out of it that could help other teachers once it was completed. I found this constraint especially challenging due to the complexity of the subject I wanted to address in my action research project which was related to inquiry-based learning and how it could help students increase their autonomy awareness within the science class.

Another constraint I had was the fact that I was not assigned science classes, so I had to talk to the Academic Director of the school to ensure that I could teach science classes at least for the time of the project implementation so that I could make the necessary observations in the group in which I planned to make the intervention of the inquiry-based unit.

From an ethical point of view, I had to make sure that the results of my research were really going to be useful, not only to this group of fourth grade students, but also to the school itself, not to mention my teacher colleagues. My idea was not to carry out this project for the sake of fulfilling the Master’s program demands, but to challenge students to develop their capacities for collaboration, analysis, creativity, and communication as they learned to participate as members of the broader scholarly community, fostering a spirit of risk-taking, ambition, and adventure in their science classes.

Even though I thought that my project did respect and agreed with the school’s policies, I had to make sure it was so, because at the school where I work we make our best to orient our curriculum, our programs, and anything that has to do with the students’ education towards the educational principles that govern the whole school community. I had to inform the directors and the parents of this group of students about the purpose of this research project and I also rendered frequent reports to them on the process to accomplish the goals proposed.

Finally, I respected copyright laws citing any documents I used from databases, books, journals, web pages, or any other reference materials so that all the information in the project was valid. We were instructed on the importance of reporting any quotations or references appropriately, especially by using the APA guidelines, so I used it to facilitate other teachers interested in the research topic the access to reference materials used in the project.

I was aware that carrying out an action research project was not an easy task to embark on, but what I learnt about it made me feel that it was not something impossible to do as far as I did it taking into account the possible constraints, the ethical implications, and more important, the desire to help my students overcome a difficulty they had in their learning process in the classroom.

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