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Digging Deeper Into Action Research

Digging Deeper Into Action Research
A Teacher Inquirer's Field Guide

Foreword by Marilyn Cochran-Smith

February 2013 | 120 pages | Corwin

Take your great idea to the next level with action research

How—and when—can we find time to conduct meaningful action research? Great ideas and thought-provoking questions can only blossom through methodical inquiry. Nancy Fichtman Dana steps in as your action-research coach and leads you on a journey through wonderings to real change in your classroom.

From framing your question to presenting your research, this guide will encourage, challenge, and ultimately lead you through the action research process. Teachers, students, and action-research coaches alike will learn how to:

• Reframe initial wonderings into pointed inquiries
• Creatively analyze both qualitative and quantitative data
• Draw action-research topics out of ordinary discussions with colleagues
• Share findings with others to help them improve as well

With real-life vignettes, self-guided worksheets, and an included DVD, Digging Deeper into Action Research is your go-to guide each time you embark on a new journey toward professional growth.

"This field guide will undoubtedly make a valuable contribution to the larger project of practitioners engaged in the work of reflecting on, studying, and interrogating their own practice in order ultimately to improve the social life of classrooms and the learning opportunities and life chances of children."
—Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education
Boston College

"This is THE book to read for any educator who ever found themselves asking, 'What just happened?!?' If you like finding your own solutions to your teaching problems, this is the key to your freedom and to satisfaction in your teaching career!"
—Mary K. Culver, Associate Clinical Professor
Northern Arizona University

List of Figures
Foreword by Marilyn Cochran-Smith
Introduction to the Inspire to Inquire DVD
About the Author
How to Use the Inquiry Books
1. Why Do Teacher Research Anyway?
Teacher Research Defined

How to Define Your Research

Why It's Important: The 5 Es

2. Developing and Fine-Tuning Your Wondering
Wondering Defined

How to Define Your Wondering

The Wondering Litmus Test

3. Developing and Fine-Tuning Your Research Plan
Research Plan Defined

How to Define Your Research Plan

The Inquiry Plan Litmus Test

4. Analyzing Your Data
Data Analysis Defined

How to Avoid Data Analysis Paralysis

The Data Analysis Litmus Test

5. Presenting Your Research
Presentation Defined

How to Define Your Presentation

The Presentation Litmus Test

6. On Your Way: Teacher Research as a Way of Being in the World
Inquiry Stance Defined

How to Define Your Stance

Living the Life of an Inquirer


"This is THE book to read for any educator who ever found themselves asking, 'What just happened?!?' If you like the idea of having the power to find your own solutions to your teaching problems, this is the key to your freedom, and satisfaction in your teaching career!"

Mary K. Culver, Associate Clinical Professor
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

"This book supports teacher researchers in 'living the life of an inquirer' by providing specific advice for designing, conducting, and sharing the results of inquiries that are focused on student learning, as well as empowering practitioners to add their voices and knowledge to an educational field that is ready to push back against the misinformed, rigid, anti-teacher rhetoric that is currently all the rage in the U.S."

Gail V. Ritchie, Instructional Coach
Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

"This book is an essential companion resource and provides the right supports for teachers as they investigate the world of teacher inquiry and action research. It also is capable of standing on its own for a teacher who is just beginning their journey into the world of action research. It is easy to read, provides a clear learning and teaching target and makes a compelling argument for teachers to investigate inquiry and data analysis in the classroom."

Jana Scott Lindsay, Educational Consultant-Curriculum and Instruction
Saskatoon Public Schools, Saskatchewan, Canada

"Nancy Dana has done it again! In clear, accessible, and empowering ways, Dana uses Digging Deeper Into Action Research: A Teacher Inquirer’s Field Guide to build on her substantial body of work in the field of practitioner research. Speaking to experienced teacher researchers, those new to the concept of teacher research, graduate students, undergraduates, school-based instructional coaches, and a host of others, Dana reiterates the essential components from her other books while allowing the reader a plethora of reflective, yet practical, exercises to deepen the work of practitioner inquiry.
I cannot wait to share this book with my university and school-based colleagues, to use it with my students, and to re-engage with the process of teacher research myself!"

Ryan Flessner, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
College of Education, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN

"Dana's experience in inquiry, skills in research, focus on collaboration, and professional and respectful approach give it the power and authenticity needed to be effective. This professional and respectful approach accomplishes her goal for teacher inquirers to: "engage, enable, expand, express, and embrace." The text engages learners of inquiry, the scaffolded approach enables inquirers to build their skills, the questions expand thinking, the examples, charts, and outlines provide guidance in practicing inquiry, and the depth of the text and references embrace the complexity of both teaching and inquiry. As educators we look for ways not only to inform, but also to inspire. This teacher inquirers' field guide accomplishes both."

Julie Rainer Dangel, Professor of Early Childhood Education
Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

"Digging Deeper Into Action Research will serve as a guide for teachers and inquiry coaches in our district as we strive to produce powerful, results-driven inquiry-oriented professional learning communities as a professional growth process within our evaluation system."

Chris Borgen, Superintendent; Jennie Beltramini, Teacher Association President
Anacortes School District

"This text is an invaluable resource, equally appropriated for those engaged in inquiry and for those coaching others in the inquiry process. In the book and in the accompanying video features, readers will learn from the example of real teachers engaged in and learning from the research process. This is the resource we have been waiting for!"

Cynthia Carver, Assistant Professor, Co-Coordinator, MEd in Educational Leadership
Educational Leadership Department, Oakland University, Rochester, MI

"Dana has created a smart go-to field guide that offers busy practitioners an inspiring, yet practical, approach to thoughtful pursuit of questions that drive effective teaching and learning.  She has crafted a powerful argument for why teachers must understanding inquiry as stance and then she shows teachers how to develop this stance as a foundation for their own self-directed, systematic, job-embedded professional learning. Digging Deeper into Action Research offers deeply grounded and inspiring support for teacher to learn from and with each other in the context of their everyday contributions to student learning."

Lauren Childs, Consultant for School Quality and Teacher Leadership
Oakland Schools, Waterford, MI

"Digging Deeper into Action Research can be used as both a trusted guide, and as a provocateur. Educators need both as they develop an inquiry stance and embrace the complexity of teaching, with all of the inherent tensions and dilemmas. Truly transformational learning—the kind that results in improved learning for students—requires that the learner be transformed him or herself. Engaging in the process of quality action research as described by Nancy Dana will lead to such transformation."

Gene Thompson-Grove, Education Consultant and Facilitator, Coach
The School Reform Initiative (SRI), Denver, CO

Good tools, just not the right fit for the course.

Mrs Andrea Wange
School of Education: Curriculum and Instruction, University Of South Dakota
March 22, 2015
Key features
  • Simple and succinct review of each component of the action research process.
  • Exercises and vignettes to guide teachers conducting classroom research.
  • The "5 Es" (engage, enable, expand, express, and embrace) - A mnemonic device to inspire teachers to engage in their own research and energize them throughout each step of the process, particularly in these trying education times.
  • Tips for fine-tuning a "wondering" (or research question), developing a research plan, analyzing data, and presenting research to colleagues.

Select a Purchasing Option

Paperback w/CD
ISBN: 9781452241951