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Change Begins with You: What Action Research Is and How to Fund It. Caroline Herbert, Chairperson NCSLMA Research Committee October 30, 2008. What is Action Research?.

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Change begins with you what action research is and how to fund it

Change Begins with You: What Action Research Is and How to Fund It

Caroline Herbert, Chairperson NCSLMA Research Committee

October 30, 2008

What is action research

What is Action Research?

  • According to IMPACT: “Action research involves the in-depth study of one’s own classroom or school over an established period of time.”

  • From Action Research: A Guide for Library Media Specialists: “Action research is the vehicle the library media specialist uses to analyze a situation and determine what needs to be done to address the issue.”

Traditional vs action research

Traditional vs. Action Research

Traditional vs action research1

Traditional vs. Action Research

Benefits of action research

Benefits of Action Research

  • Reflective practice leads to the further development and improvement of our programs.

  • It confirms that our programs promote student achievement.

  • It is a personal solution to problems in the school; problem solving at the local level.

Disadvantages of action research

Disadvantages of Action Research

  • Data collection does take time.

  • Reliability and validity could be concerns.

  • No university backing.

So how do i choose a topic

So, How Do I Choose a Topic?

  • What’s your “itch”?

  • Does the topic revolve around student achievement?

  • Is the topic within your professional scope?

  • Does it just deal with the library program or the school as a whole?

  • Reflective writing can be helpful.

From itch to research question

From “Itch” to Research Question

  • Develop a problem statement.

  • Brainstorm all of the possible questions.

  • Choose the question that most matches what you want to achieve.

Sample research questions

Sample Research Questions

  • How does a flexible schedule affect student achievement?

  • How does allowing students to place materials on hold affect library use?

  • What happens if the circulation period is changed from two weeks to four weeks?

  • How does Sustained Silent Reading impact students’ love of reading?

  • What instruction is needed to increase the use of online databases?

How will i collect the data

How Will I Collect the Data?

  • Collecting data from more than one source increases the reliability and validity of the study.

  • Possible sources of data: questionnaires, interviews, observations, and archival data.

  • Develop data collection methods to focus on your research question.



  • Quick and easy way to gather large amounts of data

  • Include different types of questions (what do you know, what do you think, how do you feel)

  • Questions can be open-ended or closed-response

  • Avoid leading questions



  • You are able to ask clarifying or elaborative questions.

  • You are able to collect information from those who would not or could not fill out a questionnaire.

  • Can be time-consuming.

  • Can unintentionally cause bias in answers due to lack of anonymity.



  • You can actively or passively observe.

  • You can use a checklist.

  • You can see what is actually happening not just what is being reported.

  • Data can be videotaped for later study.

Archival data

Archival Data

  • Examples are data in cumulative folders, student test data, circulation statistics, etc.

  • Less subjective than other types of data.

  • Be careful to uphold the confidentiality of such records.

Determining outcomes

Determining Outcomes

  • Take the analyzed data and plan your next steps.

  • How will this research be used to improve programs?

  • Can this research be generalized to other libraries or settings?

  • What recommendations can be made based on the findings?

Tooting your own horn

Tooting Your Own Horn

  • Share your results!

  • Present the results to your staff.

  • Share your findings at a district-wide meeting.

  • Share your findings at a professional conference.

  • Publish your findings in a professional journal.

Ok i think i m ready now what

OK, I Think I’m Ready! Now What?

  • The NCSLMA Action Research Grant

    • A brief history

    • Goal of the program

  • The Action Research Grant is up to a $1,000 grant to fund the Action Research project of one NCSLMA member per school year.

Action research grant timeline

Action Research Grant Timeline

  • Jan. 2009– Request for Proposals is broadcast to the NCSLMA membership

  • Apr. 2009 – Proposals due to the Research Committee chairperson

  • May 2009 – Research Committee reviews and scores the proposals

  • June 2009 – Winner is announced!

  • Aug. 2009-May 2010 – Project is implemented, research conducted

  • August 2010 – Submit article to NCSLMA newsletter

  • November 2010 – Present findings at NCSLMA conference

Useful resources

Useful Resources

  • Farmer, L.S.J. (2003). How to Conduct Action Research: A Guide for Library Media Specialists. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

  • Howard, J.K. & Eckhardt, S.A. (2005). Action Research: A Guide for Library Media Specialists. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing.

  • Sykes, J.A. (2000). Action research: A Practical Guide for Transforming Your School Library. Greenwood Village, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Useful websites

Useful Websites

  • Action Research


  • Classroom Action Research Overview


  • David V. Loertscher’s Website


  • Seven Stages in My First Action Research Project




  • Ask now!

  • Contact me later:

    Caroline Herbert, Media Coordinator

    Oak Grove Elementary School

    3810 Wake Forest Rd.

    Durham, NC 27703

    (919) 560-3960, ext. 60235

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