ERES 800 covered Educational Research Methods. I took the course alongside EC&I 831 during the Winter 2016 term. Admittedly, out of all the courses required as part of the ETAD program, I was least excited about this one. I think my lack of excitement came directly from my previous experiences with research, and it being so tedious, time-consuming, and (from my point of view) non-practical. I think my experience and viewpoint is common among educators.
Through the length of this course, we engaged in discussion boards, developmental activities, group presentations (as a part of the discussion boards), and a culminating research proposal. I especially appreciated that our developmental activities were directly applied to our research proposal and that I was able combine them to make up a huge chunk of the final research proposal.
For my group project, I was placed within a great group. We divided and conquered our presentation and I was quite proud of the product we produced and shared with the class about Evaluation and Action Research (see below). We utilized the collaborative power of Google Slides and were able to combine all of our research effectively. I really enjoyed diving deeper into action research, since this was the first time I had formally investigated with it.
For the needs and wants of classroom teachers, I found that action research finally gave credibility to the work that so many teachers already do in efforts to improve their own students’ learning and school environments. The missing element is often the reporting piece, but I do believe that more teachers would share if there were less intimidating ways to share than journals. What I really connected with was the need to reflect. Reflection allows for researchers to best evaluate and synthesize their experiences, something that is extremely familiar for teachers already (Gall et al, 2007). However, ethics must always remain a significant consideration in the process and researchers will likely find additional ethical considerations while trying to balance the role of teacher and researcher, while still serving students needs and professional requirements (Gall et al, 2007).
My choice for my research project was largely motivated by stress levels at the time. I decided to investigate the Mindfulness trend and how it could potentially reduce or impact student stress levels in a middle years classroom environment. I had no plans of doing a thesis or formal, full research during my masters (I personally couldn’t imagine juggling that with a full time teaching gig), so I welcomed the opportunity to only focus on the proposal piece of research for the culminating task. Through this, I realized how complex and intricate going about research can be. I learned a lot about my topic just from the literature review, which I could apply into my classroom teaching and personal life. Prior to this course, I gave very little though to the validity of results and ethics in educational research, but quickly realized how important these were to consider if your research were to add value to the body of knowledge in the world.
I still don’t really see myself pursuing formal research any time soon, but I certainly have a much greater appreciation for the process of research and an increased respect for those who dedicate so much time and effort to it. My biggest takeaway from ERES 800 is the knowledge of the process which has given me the tools to critically look at research, allowing me to identify the strengths and limitations and, ultimately, how it can apply it to the work I do with students and teachers every day.
Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2007). Educational Research: An Introduction (8th ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson.