An Integrated Research Course Sequence: Empowering Teacher Candidates to Become Researchers in their Classrooms

Spring, 2011

Source: Action in Teacher Education, 33(1):24-37, (Spring, 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this paper, the author examines an attempt to empower teacher candidates to become researchers in their own classrooms through an integrated research course sequence in the Masters of Arts in teaching program at Quinnipiac University.

The author first describes two teacher education programs that have shown some success in preparing new teachers to acquire the knowledge and skills to engage in action-based teacher research.

The author then reports on the three-semester research course sequence at Quinnipiac while highlighting what students learn and are expected to do in each semester.

The author conducted surveys to twenty graduates of the research course sequence who were already teaching in schools about their reactions to this sequence.
Based on the findings from the surveys, the author interviewed four graduates who reported that they had already conducted some action research in their classroom.

Assessing the Research Course Sequence

The author identified four recurring themes that shed light on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the research course sequence at Quinnipiac:
1. A Reflective Attitude
The author found out that many of the former students felt that the research course sequence empowered them to be able to find useful information on an issue they are facing in the classroom.
Furthermore, this sequence helped them become more reflective and critical in their approach as teachers.

2. Individual Meetings
The graduates indicated the importance of the one-on-one meetings that the teacher candidates had with their advisors while the students were designing their research projects.

3. Conversations with Peers
Several of the new teachers said that discussing a problem they faced with some of their peers has helped them in thinking about how to address this problem.

4. Authentic Problems
Finally, several of the teachers indicated that it would have been better to research an issue that comes out of their teaching experience rather than just a topic that they may be interested in but has no relationship to their work.

Conclusions and Implications

The author concludes with several implications about action research.
First, conducting action research as part of their teacher education program can prepare candidates to be more open to and comfortable with research once they become teachers in their own classrooms.

Second, the findings suggest that the former students mentioned how much they learned from doing a literature review.

Finally, the author argues that adopting a mind-set of a teacher researcher and reflective practitioner can help teachers and new teachers to think deeper and more systematically about their goals, lessons, and methods.

Updated: Dec. 11, 2012