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Prioritize action research in our education

Published : Wednesday, 20 September, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 717
Alaul Alam

Prioritize action research in our education

Prioritize action research in our education

In recent times outcome-based education has been a common phenomenon in the arena of global education. Countries are emphasizing it to build up knowledge-based society. To comply with the global education trend over the last some years the Ministry of Education and University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) has been emphasizing outcome-based education at the tertiary context of Bangladesh. But the question is pertinent to raise; how far we can ensure outcome-based education unless learning outcomes remain unnoticed in the class?

There is no alternative to enhancing learning outcomes in ensuring outcome-based education. It is the innovation in the class that is considered the key to maximizing learning outcomes. However, it is evident that a teacher can easily bring innovations in his/her class through conducting action research. There is a wise saying that as a teacher the more you become innovative, the more you see learning outcomes of your students.

Traditional classroom pedagogy which we see as followed by many teachers since the ages hardly contributes to maximizing learning outcomes. The traditional lecture-based instructional approach is still introduced in the country's education which creates a gap between education and employability skills. The situation corresponds that teachers in most cases hardly pay any heed to find out updated classroom strategies to maximize learning outcomes of their students. Again, the teachers who have entered the teaching profession by chance with no passion to teaching hardly get involved in action research to make the classroom practices effective.

However, the fourth Industrial revolution is looming. Countries are focusing on building knowledge-based economy to unlock the potentials of the 4IR. They are emphasizing highly on the innovation of classroom teaching and learning. In the developed countries every teacher is a researcher irrespective of his/her teaching at any education level. Their all activities center round ensuring fruitful education for the nation and their frequent involvement in action research helps them to go through the innovative and age-demanding pedagogy which brings maximum education outcomes required for the sustainable growth of a country.

Certainly, to mitigate educational challenges action research plays a pivotal role. Action research is an empowering and transformative research approach that investigates and solves critical educational problems. Besides, it contributes to the development of teaching practices along with the overalldevelopment of the institution. It is considered a comprehensive guide that helps educators and professionals identify and address key concerns in academic settings.

Action research seems the most suited approach for a teacher who seeks to reflect on his/ her work to solve problems and come up with evidence-based improvements for his/her own practices and contexts. It is an approach that invites teachers to learn more about their classroom practice. It also enriches their pedagogical instructions. Consequently, they can focus on their needs in their own context which results in their knowledge and skill-based development.

Thus, action research is considered as one of the most suitable ways for the professional development of teachers. Studies have revealed that action research facilities the academics and educators in their professional development and bridges the gap between research and practice. Researchers have shown that as it involves systematic observations and data collection for making informed decisions and more target actions, it works as the powerful tool for teachers' professional development.

In the cyclical action research process, four basic stages are to reflect, plan, act, observe and finally reflect to continue through the cycle. In identifying a problem,a teacher finds a scope to pinpoint a specific, context-based concern which leads him/her to the involvement of initial data collection, consultation with relevant stakeholders, and extensive reflection.

When the concern is identified, it is the time for the educators to address the concern developing strategies and actions which may include further investigation, reviewing relevant literature, and exploring potential solutions. Now the time is to monitor the impact of the strategies used in the class on learners and educational setting and finally, evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions and use data to make informed decisions about future actions.

However, many teachers in our country hardly realize the importance of action research in accelerating classroom outcomes. Findings of a recent study have shown that teachers teaching schools and colleges hardly have the ability to clearly define what is action research and why do teachers need to conduct action research? A recent study has revealed a grim picture of the quality of Bangladesh's primary education.

The poor level of proficiency of different grade students corresponds to the inefficiency of the teachers teaching there for years. The question is how far our primary teachers are capable of assessing learners and finding out innovative strategies that are a must to enhance learning outcomes of their learners? Do they have any scope to get involved in action research to get the real scenario of their classroom practice and outcomes? It seems surprising when they claim they are teachers but not researchers. How can they be innovative when they have little interest to know what happens in their class?  

It is no denial that the suddenimposing of new curriculumon students at different education levels without extensive research brings challenges for the country's education.In many cases introducing new curriculum may not fit for achieving targeted learning outcomes resulting in bringing multifarious challenges that may disrupt the smooth flow of the country's education.

So, it is imperative to develop sustainable and pragmatic pedagogical practices that we, the teachers, may have through conducting action research. But action research hardly works to bring innovations in the classroom practice unless the findings of different studies are considered important to develop teaching methods.

As an English teacher of a university I think, it is tough to measure the learning outcomes of the existing communicative English curriculum. It raises a question from many quarters that how far our communicative approach has contributed to bringing the outcomes in English education though it was expected initially that this approach would be a miracle in English teaching and learning.

The grim picture of English teaching and learning in the country corresponds that introducing a new curriculum merely contributes to maximizing learning outcomes unless teachers prioritize action research to go through the depth of the challenges, students face in the classroom and consider the findings pivotal in the classroom practices. Finally, to produce efficient graduates it is a must to adopt innovative teaching in the class. But how far we can be able to provide innovations in teaching if the possibilities of action research in the education arena remain unaddressed?

The writer teaches at Prime University and  a research scholar at the IBS

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