Past research topics for Master’s in Education degree candidates include the effects of foreign language study on verbal SAT scores, the effect of mentoring on the academic achievement of African-American males and reading motivations in fourth graders. The goal of action research, though, is to improve teaching and learning outcomes; the topic, therefore, should be meaningful to the teacher conducting the research.
Every teacher action research project begins with reflection on the needs of the teacher, learners and the classroom. The topic usually arises from a teacher’s challenges in the classroom. These challenges can range from choosing appropriate teaching strategies and classroom management techniques to assessment issues.
The next step in planning a teacher action research project is to determine an underlying philosophy for achieving a desired effect in the classroom. The teacher achieves this by pinpointing existing research that validates her philosophy. However, if the action project centers on a topic not yet fully researched, the teacher must include the rationale and expected findings to bolster the hypothesis. The teacher then creates a list of research questions to direct the classroom investigation, launches the research, and collects and analyzes the data. The last steps in action research are to share the findings with other teachers and, finally, to implement the changes suggested by the research.