The education 432 course at Claremont Graduate University developed my skills in action research by reading key literature as well as conducting an action research project. Throughout the course, we analyzed, discussed, and reflected on mathematics teaching by examining classroom videos of our own, as well as our classmates. The main course assignment was to engage in our own classroom action research project and to present our research, reflections, artifacts, and conclusion at the end of the course.
For my action research project, I decided to research the use of open-ended questions to provoke conceptual development in students. I selected this topic because according to educational experts, teachers seldom write down their questions while planning instead they generate them extemporaneously during the lesson. This can lead to vague questions that do not engage students in high-quality thinking. I felt that this topic would help me grow as a professional since I noticed that many of the questions I asked during a lesson, for the most part, asked students to generate single number, figure, or mathematical object as a response. My professional goal for the research project was to develop and to incorporate questions in my teaching practices that are directed toward evaluating students’ thinking. Furthermore, the questions must provide learners an opportunity to communicate their reasoning process. In addition, the questions I created allowed for the teacher to gather detail data on how students think and what they actually learn from instructions.
In conclusion, the action research course increased my personal educational knowledge for it provided me with a tool to improve and refine my teaching practices. Moreover, it empowered me to contribute my educational institution in a more powerful way. The action research I conducted involved several teachers at my school; and at the end of the project I conducted an action research presentation to the mathematics department. The presentation had a positive effect on my colleagues, it prompted further research of my topic within the department, and new ideas of action research projects were discussed.