Action research and its impact on teacher efficacy : a mixed methods case study.
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Cooper-Twamley, Susan M.
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Because of the documented positive impact of high teacher efficacy on student success, this research investigated the impact of participation in action research on teacher efficacy. The research design followed a mixed methods, multiple case study model. Participants in the study consisted of four high school math teachers and five fifth grade core content teachers from two different suburban districts. The high school math teachers conducted parallel inquiries during which each studied their own individual wondering with support from the other teachers on campus. The fifth grade teachers conducted a shared inquiry wherein they worked together to investigate an issue of common interest to all of them. The specific research questions were: 1) What effect does participation in the process of action research as a form of professional development have on the participating teacher?; and 2) How does participation in action research as a form of professional development encourage change in teaching practices as compared to other professional development offered by a district or school? This mixed methods study gathered data qualitatively through intermittent, individual journal responses and three classroom observations spread throughout a semester. Quantitatively, the data collected consisted of a pre- and post-efficacy survey, a pre- and post-practices survey, and a survey of other professional development completed during the span of this research project. Data analysis showed that participation in action research did impact teacher efficacy, especially in the area of instructional practices. A teacher's willingness to continue as a teacher-reasearcher was also positively impacted for five of the nine participants. Data on action research as a way to encourage change was limited, although qualitative responses regarding the time required to implement other forms of professional development indicate that there may be a higher potential with action research as implementation is part of the process.