The views expressed on the CTE Educator website, blogs and posts are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Greater Johnstown School District, the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Directors, or Administration.
What is Action Research?
Action research is defined as any systematic inquiry conducted by teachers, administrators, counselors, or others with a vested interest in the teaching and learning process or environment. Gathering information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how their students learn with the goal of improving or understanding the the identified issue. Action research allows teachers to study their own classrooms—for example, their own instructional methods, their own students, and their own assessments—in order to better understand them and to be able to improve their quality or effectiveness, (Mertler, 2021). In other words, teachers examining their pedagogy, practices, and areas for improvement for the benefit of their classroom and school.
Action Research Topic and Why:
The fundamental action research question to be answered is how writing skills can be improved through the implementation and use of ePortfolios. This question is the driving force for the innovation plan: Implementing ePortfolios in CTE. While documenting and posting their work will help the student, it is through reflective blogging that we can expect to see writing skills improve, (Alsamadani, 2017). Today’s students are not responding to the sit & get, kill and drill, regurgitative factory model of instruction that predominates our classrooms, (Wagner, 2009). We need to try a new approach for student writing, utilizing new tools in a manner that the student is accustomed to. It is important to have the student take ownership of their learning through personalizing the experience, (Harapnuik, 2019). The ePortfolio does this through posting their work, projects, assignments, and blogs. The importance of reflective blogging and the resulting improvement in writing skills measured by reductions in grammar, spelling and punctuation errors as the year progresses, will be the critical component that the action plan will focus on, (Alsamadani, 2017). The preliminary work in developing the following action plan is an outline and annotated bibliography, (click here), The research culminates with an action plan literature review outlining the research that supports this premise.
Action Research Question:
How can ePortfolios improve writing skills in CTE classes?
A literature review was conducted to support the action research question. This review supports the premise that reflective blogging through the use of ePortfolios can have a positive effect on student writing skills. The literature established components that should be addressed including the need to improve student writing skills, content teacher and student reluctance to writing in content areas, and data to collect for a successful action research plan.
Research Design & Methods:
A mixed method data analysis will occur. We will be looking at quantitative data and qualitative data to track improvements in writing skills.
The first set of quantitative data tracked will be results from a student questionnaire concerning their outlook on writing, blogging, and technology, (Marsden and Piggot-Irvine, 2012). The second set of data collected will be the number of spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors for the first student assignment to give a baseline or starting point. The assignment will be a structured blog prompt that will help guide the students through the writing process initially, (Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, Volume 43, Number 2, 2006). We will be focusing on the second set of data as the year progresses, tracking errors and using formative assessments; mentoring, coaching, and feedback through comments and questions to guide improvement, (Wiliam, 2016). The qualitative data to be tracked is completeness. Following the blog prompt instructions, utilizing the rubric for guidance, improvement in sentence structure, and increasing vocabulary. While these are qualitative in nature on an individual basis, they will be analyzed quantitatively by grade level, reporting an improvement percentage by class, (Alsamadani, 2017). These two sets of data will yield data on the improvement of student writing, both grammar and quality.
First will be writing skills professional development for content teachers to help overcome any reluctance.
Second, introduce ePortfolios to students using my ePortfolio as an example.
Third, students will create an ePortfolio with an emphasis on digital citizenship, reflective blogging, and writing skills.
My quantitative measures fall into 3 categories:
Scaled surveys concerning writing frequency, types of writing students are doing, like/dislike writing, etc. Surveys will be submitted through Google Forms.
The scaled survey will have 1-2 open response questions.
Spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors in the student blogs will be tracked from the implementation of ePortfolios for CTE students. The reduction in errors will be tracked on a weekly basis.
Observations, feedback/comments, and coaching frequency will be tracked. As students improve, independence and self-direction will improve. This will be reported as a quantitative measurement of frequency by class.
As a small urban district, students will continue to seek validation for their work. I will attempt to separate these instances from required feedback.
The qualitative measures fall into 2 categories:
Following directions/completeness. Is the student following instructions for a structured prompt? Is the student providing a complete response to a structured prompt?
Quality of writing responses.
Is the student writing reflectively, expanding on learning and tying it to prior knowledge?
Has sentence structure improved?
How data be gathered:
Scaled surveys, structured writing prompts to begin with, rubrics, tracking spreadsheets, and apps available for grading, and tracking writing improvement in Google Docs. We will follow the Pennsylvania School Code regarding privacy and ethics for high school students.
Managing and handling the results and data:
Organize the Data
Describe the data collected
What does it mean?
Analyze the results:
Interpret the data
Relationships in the data
How does this relate to our basic research question and Action Plan?
What went well and what needs improvement?
Sharing the results:
We will begin by meeting with Administration, the ACT 48 Committee, (the ACT 48 committee decides the content of Professional Development). Finally, meetings with the core content teachers involved.
Get ready to do it again.
- Alsamadani H., (2017). The Effectiveness of Using Online Blogging for Students’ Individual and Group Writing. Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education. Retrieved from eric.ed.gov, 6/21/2021. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1165114.pdf
- Harapnuik, D. 2019, June 7. What is an ePortfolio? It’s About Learning. http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6063
- Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, Volume 43, Number 2. (2006). Journal Writing in Career and Technical Education: A Tool to Promote Critical Thinking Skills. https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JITE/v43n2/pdf/cooper.pdf Accessed from: CTE and Literacy: An Excellent Match. (2019, December 19). Lexia Learning. https://www.lexialearning.com/blog/cte-and-literacy-excellent-match
- Marsden N. and Piggot-Irvine E., (2012). Using blogging and laptop computers to improve writing skills on a vocational training course. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. Retrieved from UNITEC New Zealand, 6/21/2021. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/55e7/595147d037abc298e5d96c2b35e1401ef91c.pdf
- Mertler, C. 2020. Action Research. SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
- Wagner T., 2009. 7 Skills students need for their future, Asia Society. YouTube video, Retrieved 6/10/2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS2PqTTxFFc
- Wiliam, Professional Development, “Implementing Formative Assessments,” (2016).