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Action Research Project: Student

Handbook

HL 8/10/2007
Action Research Project: Student Handbook

Program Council
The Academic Program Councils for each college
oversee the design and development of all University of
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practitioner faculty members who have extensive
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within the academic program.

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Edited in accordance with University of Phoenix® editorial standards
and practices.

HL 8/10/2007
Action Research Project: Student Handbook

Table of Contents

The Action Research Project ..................................................................................................................... 1

Introduction....................................................................................................................................... 1

Action Research Defined ................................................................................................................. 1

Research Project Requirements ...................................................................................................... 1

Overview .......................................................................................................................................... 2

Sequence of Courses....................................................................................................................... 2

Research Project Requirements Detailed ........................................................................................ 2

Research Project Chapter Details.............................................................................................................. 6

Chapter I: Introduction...................................................................................................................... 6

Problem Statement................................................................................................................. 6

Purpose ................................................................................................................................. 6

Description of the Community ................................................................................................ 6

Description of Work Setting ................................................................................................... 6

Writer’s Role ........................................................................................................................... 6

Chapter II: Study of the Problem ...................................................................................................... 7

Problem Description ............................................................................................................... 7

Problem Documentation ......................................................................................................... 7

Literature Review.................................................................................................................... 7

Causative Analysis ................................................................................................................. 7

Chapter III: Outcomes and Analysis................................................................................................. 8

Goals ..................................................................................................................................... 8

Expected Outcomes ............................................................................................................... 8

Measurement of Outcomes .................................................................................................... 8

Analysis of Results ................................................................................................................. 8

Chapter IV: Solution Strategy........................................................................................................... 9

Problem Statement................................................................................................................. 9

Discussion .............................................................................................................................. 9
Action Research Project: Student Handbook

Selected Solutions/Calendar Plan .......................................................................................... 9

Chapter V: Results and Recommendations ................................................................................... 10

Results.................................................................................................................................. 10

Discussion ............................................................................................................................ 10

Recommendations................................................................................................................ 10

Other Parts of the Final Report ...................................................................................................... 11

Title Page and Table of Contents. ........................................................................................ 11

Abstract................................................................................................................................. 11

Appendices ........................................................................................................................... 11

Action Research Project: Student Handbook Appendices....................................................................... 13

Appendix A: Writing the Problem Statement.................................................................................. 13

Appendix B: Planning Matrix (Planning Matrix Example and Your Planning Matrix) ..................... 14

Appendix C: Sample Outline .......................................................................................................... 17

Appendix D: Sample Title Page ..................................................................................................... 24

Appendix E: Sample Table of Contents ......................................................................................... 25

Appendix F: Sample Abstract......................................................................................................... 27


Action Research Project: Student Handbook 1

The Action Research Project


Introduction
The action research project is an important component of your MAED program at the University of
Phoenix. By identifying a problem, designing a potential solution strategy that may result in positive
change, and collecting and analyzing data to determine if the potential solution strategy is a worthwhile
solution, you will take an active leadership role in the improvement of a situation in your work setting. This
handbook is intended to lead you through the research process in a step-by-step format to ensure your
understanding and ability to utilize the process to address an issue in a future work setting. You will not
be required to implement the research project.

Action Research Defined


Action research, as defined by McMillan and Schumacher (2006), “involves the use of research methods
by practitioners to study current problems or issues” (p. 15). To conduct action research, teachers and
administrators, individually or in teams, examine a common issue or an everyday concern to determine
best local practices. The action research project may be qualitative, quantitative, or a mixture of both
qualitative and quantitative. Action research studies use the concepts of formalized research but may
loosen the constraints. For instance, the groups studied in an action research study are usually smaller.
Teachers frequently study their own classes.
Action research can be viewed as a six-part process:
1. Select a focus. (What is the problem?)
2. Collect baseline data (pre-implementation data): What evidence do you need to collect to prove a
problem exists; what does the literature say about the problem?
3. Design and implement a potential solution strategy to resolve or alleviate the problem.
4. Collect post-implementation data.
5. Compare the baseline data (pre-implementation data) with the post-implementation data to determine
if improvement has been achieved.
6. Disseminate the findings to appropriate constituencies.
Creswell (2006) defines action research as “systematic procedures used by teachers (or other individuals
in an educational setting) to gather quantitative and qualitative data to address improvements in their
educational setting, their teaching, and the learning of their students” (p. 53). Additionally, some action
research projects “seek to address and solve local, practical problems, such as a discipline classroom
issue for a teacher” (p. 53).

Research Project Requirements


There are nine phases you must complete successfully to fulfill the requirements of the action research
th
project. All writing must be in 5 ed. APA format:
1. Write the problem statement (EDD/569).
2. Determine a potential solution strategy to implement in order to change the situation (EDD/569).
3. Complete a planning matrix and select a research approach (EDD/569).
4. Construct a sentence outline of the action research proposal (EDD/577).
5. Write the full action research proposal which includes documentation of the problem (e.g., literature
that supports the problem, the potential solution, and baseline/pre-implementation data) (EDD/577).
6. Upload your action research proposal to the e-portfolio (TaskStream) (EDD/577). This is required.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 2

7. Present your proposal to an interested group outside of the University of Phoenix (prior to EDD/580).
Refer to the University of Phoenix Material “Outside Presentation of an Action Research Project” on
the course rEsource pages for EDD/569, EDD/577, or EDD/580.
8. Collect post-implementation data: Compare pre-implementation data to post-implementation data to
see if a change occurs (post-implementation data may come from the Virtual School Portal data or
from your own generated mock data based upon what you would expect if the design was
implemented).
9. Write a final research report which includes the results and recommendations (EDD/580).
Note: You will not implement your action research project.

Overview
Your University of Phoenix action research project contains the following components:
Chapter I – Introduction
Chapter II – Study of the Problem
Chapter III – Expected Outcomes and Analysis of Data
Chapter IV – Solution Strategy (In EDD577, you formally write Chapters I-IV. These chapters become
your proposal. In EDD580, you will add Chapter V to your proposal, all of which then becomes your final
report.)
Chapter V – Results and Recommendations
Additional parts – front matter (title page, table of contents, and abstract) and back matter (references
and appendices)
The total length of an action research project is generally about 25-30 pages, excluding the front matter
and the back matter pages.

Sequence of Courses
EDD/569 – Developing a problem and a planning matrix
EDD/577 – Chapters I-IV are written first in outline format using complete sentences and then as a fully
prepared text for EDD/580. These four chapters are your proposal. At the end of EDD/577, upload your
action research proposal to the e-portfolio (TaskStream). This is required.
EDD/580 – Chapter V is written, proposal is revised and finalized, and the final report (Chapters I-V) is
submitted. Chapter V requires that you present data from the Virtual School or from mock data based
upon your expectations (refer to the heading: Research Project Requirements Detailed for information on
how to access the Virtual School). Additionally, you will draw conclusions and recommend best practices
to your readers.

1
Research Project Requirements Detailed
2
1. Writing the problem statement
a. Clearly state the problem (refer to Appendix A).

1
Note: In writing a research proposal, researchers should be aware that not all studies produce predicted results. A study is worthy
if designed and carried out well. Not every proposed solution strategy produces a positive change. The purpose of conducting
research is to find out whether our expectations are true or false.
2
Prior to writing the problem statement, some thought should be given to whether you will:
a. Design a study that uses the Virtual School Portal data (mock data)
b. Generate your own mock data based upon what you would expect if the design was implemented
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 3

1) Identify a problem that enables you to directly impact your students, co-workers, or campus.
2) Identify the participants of your study.
3) Focus on the problem and not on the cause or the solution in the statement of the problem.
b. Determine the proposed timeframe for the project (typically 3 to 4 months from the start to the
final report).
c. Determine one to three problem statements about situations that you believe currently exist, and
bring these to class during EDD/569. Together, you and your research instructor should review at
least three problem statements and select and refine the most appropriate one for the research
project requirement.
d. Example problem statements that are appropriate:
1) The problem is that some students in third grade bilingual classrooms are not meeting
standards for district reading tests.
2) The problem is that many junior high school students with learning disabilities who are placed
in an inclusive math course do not show year-to-year progress.
3) The problem is that many special education students who are in mainstream general
education classrooms are having a difficult time adjusting socially and emotionally.
e. Example problem statements that are inappropriate:
1) What have researchers found out about dyslexia? (The example is not written in the “problem
is” format, is too broad, and is not action research.)
2) Who are the most notable experts in the field of drug and alcohol awareness? (The example
is not written in the “problem is” format, is too broad, and can be solved by a literature review
rather than an action research process.)
3) The problem is that teacher salaries need to be raised. (As the researcher, you have no
control over the outcome because the problem is due to the constraints of the school district.)
2. Determine a potential solution strategy in order to implement a change in the situation.
a. Your solution strategy is the “action” or implementation in your action research project.
b. Every problem statement will have a unique solution strategy.
c. Ask yourself: What needs to occur to make a positive change?
d. Examples:
1) Refer to problem statement in 1.c.1 above: A possible solution strategy might be to work on
vocabulary 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week.
2) Refer to problem statement in 1.c.2 above: A possible solution strategy might be to use math
manipulatives in every math class, 5 days a week.
3) Refer to problem statement in 1.c.3 above: A possible solution strategy might be to assign
classroom buddies for each special education student to assist him/her in becoming part of
the group.
3. Construct a research design (approach).
a. Most action research projects will use the quasi-experimental design:

Action Group Match O (Pre) X1 O (Post)


Control/Contrast Match O (Pre) X2 O (Post)
Group
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 4

1) The design has at least two groups for contrast: the Action Group and Control/Contrast
Group.
2) Match: Two groups that have similar characteristics (e.g., possibly your third grade class as
the Action Group and another third grade class as the Control/Contrast Group that will not
have an action implemented, or your current third grade class as the Action Group and your
last year’s third grade class as the Control/Contrast that did not have an action).
3) O (Pre): Baseline/pre-implementation measurements; this is what is collected before
implementation of your solution strategy on groups X1 and X2 (e.g., surveys, test grades,
formal interviews, etc.).
4) X1 is the implementation/solution strategy on the Action Group; X2 is a different
implementation or absence of any implementation performed on the Control/Contrast Group.
5) O (Post): Post-implementation measurements; this is what is collected after implementation
on both groups (e.g., surveys, test grades, formal interviews, etc.). In almost all cases, the
pre-measurement instruments/tools and post measurement instruments/tools will be the
same. Their comparison (after adjusting for differences in the pre-assessment) is what
indicates that your solution strategy is more, less, or equally effective.
b. Some studies may use an experimental design which is similar to a quasi-experimental design. In
an experimental design, participants are assigned to groups randomly so the researcher can feel
assured that the two groups are equated prior to the implementation of the solution strategy. In an
experimental design, the baseline/pre-implementation measurement is optional:

Action Group Random [O X1 O (Post)


(Pre)]
Assignment
Control/Contrast Random [O X2 O (Post)
Group (Pre)]
Assignment

c. Consult your EDD/569 or EDD/577 text or your instructor(s) for other possible designs.
4. Construct a sentence outline of the action research proposal (refer to Appendix C).
5. Write the full action research proposal (Chapters I-IV. Refer to pages 6-9 in this handbook). Include
the title page, table of contents, references, and all necessary appendices. Be sure to write in the
future tense for the proposal when referring to what you WILL do in the study.
6. You will need to establish a TaskStream account to gain access to the e-portfolio. (If you already
have an account, use your current account). Follow the steps found on the Action Research Proposal
- TaskStream link located on the course rEsource page. Use the key code provided in the
TaskStream Registration Guide to establish a TaskStream account if you do not have an account
already. Use the Action Research Proposal - TaskStream link for instructions on how to upload your
action research proposal and to email verification to your instructor.
Your action research proposal must be uploaded to TaskStream by the end of EDD/577. This is
required.
7. Present your proposal to an interested group outside of the University of Phoenix prior to EDD/580.
(refer to the University of Phoenix Material “Outside Presentation of an Action Research Project” on
the course rEsource pages in EDD/569, EDD/577, or EDD/580)
8. Collect post-implementation measurements and compare pre-implementation data to post-
implementation data for the two groups.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 5

a. Your pre- and post-implementation measurements will be simulated (mock data) for your project,
and the comparison between pre-implementation and post-implementation data for the two
groups must appear in your report).
b. Your mock data may come from the Virtual School Portal data accessed through the Virtual
School Portal link which is located on the course rEsource pages for EDD/569, EDD/577, and
EDD/580 under the “Course” heading on the left. To access the Virtual School Portal data, follow
these directions:
1) Access the Virtual School Portal link from the rEsource page.
2) Select the school (elementary, middle, high school, or community college) where you would
like to administer your survey/questionnaire.
3) Select the “Initial Research Results” (Pre-research) or “Action Research Results,” depending
whether the survey/questionnaire is administered before or after the implementation of your
action research project. (These headings are on the left side of the page for the k-12 virtual
schools and on the top of the page for the community college).
4) An Excel spreadsheet will open. You may be asked about macros. Select “Enable Macros” or
the spreadsheet will not work correctly.
5) Save the spreadsheet to your computer.
6) This tool is designed to simulate a Likert scale survey instrument. Type your questions/items
in the left hand column. Rename numbers 1-4 at the top of the columns with descriptors for
responses that relate to your survey questions/items (e.g., agree, disagree, neutral, don’t
know).
7) Save the spreadsheet to your computer.
8) Press F9 a couple of times to generate new data, and you will have your
survey/questionnaire results. Resave the data to your computer before performing any other
actions as the data will not be the same when you return to the Virtual School Portal data.
9. Write Chapter V (results and recommendations) and finalize the full action research report. The
finalized report should include the following pieces:
1) Title page
2) Table of Contents
3) Abstract (no more than 120 words)
4) Body of research project including tables and charts
5) References
6) Appendices
Remember to change the tense in your final report from future tense to past tense now that your
research study has been completed.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 6

Research Project Chapter Details


Chapter I: Introduction
1. Problem Statement (subheading): 1-3 sentences
When writing the problem statement, be sure to satisfy the following requirements:
a. The problem statement should begin with the following: “The problem is . . .”
b. The problem statement should be clear:
1) Identify a problem in which you can directly impact your students, co-workers, or campus.
2) Identify the participants that will be involved in your study.
3) Focus on the problem and not the cause or the solution in the statement of the problem.
c. Suggest or determine a realistic timeframe. (often 3 to 4 months)
2. Purpose (subheading): 1-2 paragraphs
This is a statement of what you, as the researcher, expect to accomplish. Basically, it is an overview
of the research design. It provides direction for the study. The section should begin, “The purpose of
this study is . . .”
3. Description of the Community (subheading): 1-3 pages
In this section, you should provide “the reader an understanding of your setting by describing
geographic references, the community size, the socio-economic situation, and any other relevant
information that places the work setting in context” (Sapp, 1994, p. 13). This section should include a
description of the entire school district as it applies to how the school district serves the community.
(Note: No real identifying information should be included in this section or any other sections/chapters of your ARP.
Refer to “Guidelines to Reduce Bias in Language” in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association, 5th ed.)

4. Description of Work Setting (subheading): 1-3 pages


This section provides the reader with specific information about the actual school setting in which the
study will take place. Items of importance may include basic demographics, mission statements,
faculty structure, and any other factors unique to the school itself. If the action research project will
take place at a certain grade level or in certain classrooms, these should be described.
5. Writer’s Role (subheading): 1-2 pages
In this section, describe your primary role in the setting, educational qualifications, length of
employment, additional responsibilities, membership on campus teams or committees, and any other
relevant factors deemed important.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 7

Chapter II: Study of the Problem


1. Problem Description (subheading): 1-2 pages
Restate your original problem statement. It may be appropriate to provide greater detail in this section
by specifically describing the problem in your setting; for example, “. . . difficulties being encountered,
the population affected and the reasons why the problem has not been solved” (Sapp, 1994, p.15).
2. Problem Documentation (subheading): 2-4 pages
In this section, you must clearly prove that a problem actually exists. Too often, educators define
problems evidenced by little more than “gut feelings” or “intuition.” Research requires more concrete
proof. Documentation may include test scores, grades, needs assessments, surveys, structured
observations, and record/archive review (i.e., baseline/pre-implementation measures). You are
encouraged to present these findings using tables and figures (descriptive statistics) along with
narrative explanations.
3. Literature Review (subheading): 8-12 pages
A literature review should summarize all important research that is relevant to the problem,
demonstrating a current understanding of the topic. Articles from professional publications should
have been written within the last three to five years from the start of your University of Phoenix
program. In short, this section is a synthesis of the bibliographic research, which specifically relates to
the problem in your setting. Avoid discussing solutions in this section. Focus on the problem and the
purpose sections of the literature. Remember to include a reference citation for each source in your
reference page.
4. Causative Analysis (subheading): 2-4 pages
In the final section of the chapter, analyze the documentation collected from your setting, as well as
evidence gleaned from the literature, and brainstorm all possible causes of the problem. There may
be one or several causes. A complete description, including details specifically pinpointing the
cause(s), is appropriate. It should be emphasized that, although you may propose a solution strategy
which addresses only one or two of the causes, in this section all possible causes should be
considered. In Chapter III, you will select an area you feel you have the greatest probability of
influencing and formulate a solution strategy targeting one or two specific causes (Sapp, 1994).
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 8

Chapter III: Outcomes and Analysis3


1. Goals (i.e., expectations) (subheading): 1-2 paragraphs
This section should reflect the overall purpose of the study. In one to two paragraphs, describe what
the situation will look like after a successful intervention plan has been implemented. This section
should start out with a statement such as, “The goal of this study is . . .” It may be taken directly from
the planning matrix and should not refer to the solutions.
2. Expected Outcomes (i.e., measurable objectives) (subheading): 2-4 paragraphs
Present specific outcomes of changes expected at the end of the implementation phase stated in
observable, measurable terms (refer to the Planning Matrix in Appendix B). These outcomes should
relate specifically to the documentation you provided that shows the problem exists in your setting.
These outcomes should naturally come out of the goal statement. Number each expected outcome
and present them in list form.
3. Measurement of Outcomes (subheading): 1-2 pages
Describe the measurement tool(s) you will use for each expected outcome. Be specific about
particular instruments and methods you will use. If you include copies of tests, questionnaires, or
other instruments you did not create, be sure to include full bibliographic information. If you design
your own instruments, they must be approved by your research instructor(s), and a copy must be
included in the appendices.
4. Analysis of Results (subheading): 2-4 paragraphs
Describe your plan for analyzing results. Identify the particular statistical tests, (this may include
descriptive and/or inferential statistics), tables, charts, or graphs that you will use to present your
findings. Include an analysis for each of your outcomes. Refer to your QNT575 text, if needed.

3
The goals, the expected outcomes, the measurement of outcomes, and the analysis of results must all
match. They must also align with the problem statement.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 9

Chapter IV: Solution Strategy


1. Problem Statement (subheading): 1-3 sentences
Restate your original problem statement.
2. Discussion (subheading): 3-5 pages
In Chapter II, you reviewed the literature for problems similar to the one in your setting. This section is
also a review of the literature that is related specifically to your solution strategy. In this chapter, you
will include citations from the literature that supports the selection of your solution strategy. If the topic
is so new that there is no relevant literature to support your solution strategy, you must be able to
document your rationale for not using current literature.
3. Selected Solutions/Calendar Plan (subheading): 2-4 pages
This is a detailed description of the implementation plan for improving the problem in your current
setting. It should be very specific and detailed so that another researcher could read this section and
duplicate the method without questions. (Compare this section to a recipe or cookbook plan.) Provide
the reader with specific information and training guidelines on how you will accomplish this, with step-
by-step instructions to replicate the process. For example, avoid stating, “Teachers will receive
training on methods to modify assignments for diverse learners.” Instead, include copies of specific
material needed in an appendix. Remember, you cannot be too specific in this section.
Include a week-by-week, operational calendar plan that could be used for the implementation phase,
as well as specific directions on how each component could be implemented. Remember to tell the
reader when you will begin, who will be involved, at what points specific aspects of the solution will
occur, how long various components of the plan will be applied, and how often and when results will
be evaluated. Present the plan as Month One, Week One, Week Two, etc. An implementation plan
must be written for each week (for at least a 3-month plan) and must be included in your appendices.
[A Sample Action Research Proposal is provided to you as a reference on the course rEsource pages
for EDD/569 and EDD/577. It contains Chapters I to IV, excluding the abstract and appendices. This
is a sample of the proposal and not the completed Final Report. The content under each section
heading may not be the same required length as your project.]
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 10

Chapter V: Results and Recommendations (submitted in EDD/580)


The last phase of the action research project is writing the final Action Research Report. You will revise
your proposal into report form and include Chapter V: Results and Recommendations. For the purposes
of your University of Phoenix Action Research Project, you will number your pages in sequential
pagination starting with the title page as the first page number (see your APA manual).

Following is a summary of Chapter V headings and subheadings:

(Note: This section will be written using data from the Virtual School Portal or from your own
generated mock data)

1. Results (subheading): 1-2 pages


The results portion of your research project describes what you predicted would happen if you had
implemented the project. Begin Chapter V with the problem statement and goal. Next, present your
“anticipated” results, using the Expected Outcomes/Measurable Objectives section of Chapter III.
Present your descriptive and/or inferential findings in tables, charts, or graphs as listed in the Analysis
section of Chapter III. State whether or not your outcomes/objectives were achieved. Remember,
outcomes/objectives were either met or not; avoid stating, “This outcome was almost or nearly met.”
Use the following format for each outcome/objective:
a. State the expected outcome/objective.
b. State whether or not it was met.
c. Discuss the results, briefly.
2. Discussion (subheading): 2-4 pages
After presenting the results of each expected outcome/objective, discuss your overall analysis of the
results in terms of your research. Address what changes you would make in this project now that you
have had time to reflect on it. You may reference the literature here, as appropriate. If outcomes were
not met, what might be some of the causes? If outcomes were met, what are the implications?
Discuss any unanticipated events that could have occurred and conclude with a summary.
3. Recommendations and Plans for Dissemination (subheading): 2-3 pages
What recommendations do you have for other researchers interested in replicating your study? What
recommendations do you have for use of your solutions in your setting? Number your
recommendations, providing a brief rationale for each. How did you or how would you share the
results of what you have learned from this research project? Describe your plan for disseminating the
results of your study.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 11

Other Parts of the Final Report


1. Title Page and Table of Contents: See Appendix D and Appendix E for samples of each.
2. Abstract: An abstract must be included in the final report (see Appendix F). It should be double-
spaced, not indented, and no longer than 120 words. It should address the problem, the participants,
the major goals, the solution strategy applied, and a brief summary of results.
3. Appendices: Forms, questionnaires, assessment instruments, and similar original documents should
be appended to the report rather than included as part of the text. Include a calendar of events. Every
appendix must be referred to in the body of the report. Title each appendix, assign it a letter, and
continue sequential pagination.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 12

References

American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American psychological


th
association (5 ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and
nd
qualitative research (2 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
th
McMillan, J. H., & Schumacher, S. (2006). Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry (6 ed.).
Boston: Pearson.
Sapp, M. (1994). Practicum guide for the problem-solving experience. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Nova
Southeastern University.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 13

Appendix A
Writing the Problem Statement

Stating the Problem

Problem: What is? What Should Be? How Can it Be Documented?


1. The problem is that many junior All junior high school students with • Grades on assignments
high school students with and without learning disabilities
learning disabilities who are should be showing year-to-year • Test scores
placed in inclusive education do progress when placed in the
not show year-to-year progress. general education classroom. • Report card grades

• High-stakes tests
2.

3.

4.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 14

Appendix B
Planning Matrix Example
Problem Goal (Expectation)
The problem is that many junior high school The majority of junior high school students who
students with learning disabilities who are placed in have learning disabilities, when involved in
inclusive education do not show year-to-year inclusive education, will show year-to-year progress
progress. on assignments, tests, report cards, and high-
stakes test.

Evidence Outcomes/Objectives
Baseline Data from School
1. Thirty of the 62 students (48%) who have 1. No more than 10 of the 62 (16% or less) who
learning disabilities completed less than half of have learning disabilities and assigned to
their assigned homework in one or more of inclusion classes will complete less than half of
their inclusion classes in the last grading their assigned homework in any of their
period. inclusion classes.
2. Twenty of the 62 students (32%) who have 2. No more than 8 of the 62 students (13% or
learning disabilities did not show progress on less) who have learning disabilities and
classroom tests in one or more of their assigned to inclusion classes will not show
inclusion classes in the last grading period. progress on all their classroom tests.
3. Twenty of the 62 students (32%) who have 3. No more than 4 of the 62 students (6%) who
learning disabilities showed no improvement on have learning disabilities and assigned to
their last report card in one or more inclusion inclusion classes will lack improvement on their
classes. report cards in all their classes.
4. Eighteen of the 62 students (29%) who have 4. No more than 3 of the 62 students (5%) who
learning disabilities failed at least one section have learning disabilities and assigned to
of the high-stakes test administered this past inclusion classes will fail any of the sections of
fall. their high-stakes tests.
Literature Data
1. Two-thirds of all students who have learning
disabilities, who are not provided academic
support, generally fail one or more inclusion
classes (include reference citation information
here).
2. One-half of students who have learning
disabilities, who are not provided academic
support, generally fail state required high-
stakes tests (include reference citation
information here).
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 15

Causes Solutions
1. Students who have learning disabilities and 1. Students who have learning disabilities in
assigned to inclusion classrooms appear to inclusion classrooms will receive direct
lack organizational skills necessary for instruction related to improving organizational
academic success. skills.
2. Basic skill levels of students who have learning 2. Students who have who have learning
disabilities in inclusion classrooms are below disabilities and who are placed in inclusion
their grade level. classrooms will receive direct instruction
related to improving basic skills.
3. Classroom teachers who have inclusion
students do not have information necessary to 3. Classroom teachers who have inclusion
make effective curricular or evaluative students will be provided in-service training on
modifications. curricular modification techniques.
4. Classroom teachers who have inclusion 4. Classroom teachers who have inclusion
students do not want to participate in inclusive students will be provided in-service training on
education. curricular modification techniques.
5. Classroom teachers will be provided with
adequate support to facilitate properly the
inclusion process for students who have
learning disabilities.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 16

Your Planning Matrix


Problem Goal (Expectation)

Evidence Outcomes/Objectives

Causes Solutions
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 17

Appendix C
Sample Outline
Instructions for completing your outline: The following outline is a guideline to make sure you cover all points required in
the Action Research Project. Your outline should be written in full sentences and use APA format where applicable and
for reference citation information.

Improving the Success Rate of Students with Learning Disabilities in Junior High Inclusive Settings

Chapter I: Introduction

Problem Statement
The problem is that many junior high school students with learning disabilities who are placed in inclusive
education do not show year-to-year progress.

Purpose
The purpose of this study is to determine whether a specific solution strategy improves the year-to-year
progress of junior high students with learning disabilities when participating in inclusive educational
classrooms.

Description of the Community


The community is located in the southwestern United States. It has the normal number of students with
learning disabilities when the national percentage is compared to the percentage in the community.
However, the community has an above-average concern for educating students with learning disabilities.
1. The community is experiencing a rapid transition from a historically agriculture-based community to a
suburban center.
a. The population has increased from approximately 5,000 residents in 1995 to 50,000 residents as
of January 2006 (include reference citation information here).
b. The community’s commitment to education is a contributing factor to its rapid growth (include
reference citation information here).
2. The school district has experienced growth proportionate to that of the community.
a. The school district is comprised of 12 elementary schools, 3 junior high schools, and 2 high
schools (include reference citation information here).
b. The student population is approximately 15,000 children (include reference citation information
here).
c. The certified staff is approximately 950 teachers and administrators (include reference citation
information here).
3. The school district’s goals are focused on academic excellence for all students.
d. The district’s mission statement is as follows: (include mission here with proper citation).
a. The district believes that “all students can learn” (include reference citation information here).
b. The school district emphasizes life-long learning skills (include reference citation information
here).
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 18

c. The school district encourages community involvement in education (include reference citation
information here).

Description of Work Setting


1. The research project will take place at one of the three junior high schools located in this suburban
community.
a. The student population in the chosen junior high is approximately 900 students (include reference
citation information here).
b. The cultural composition of the school is approximately 80% Anglo, 18% Hispanic, and 2%
African American (include reference citation information here).
c. Thirty-five percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches (include reference citation
information here).
d. There are 65 special education students on this campus, 62 who have learning disabilities, 2 as
emotionally handicapped, and 1 as mildly mentally retarded (include reference citation
information here).
2. The school has been practicing inclusive education for one year.
a. All special education students receive more than 70% of their education in a general education
classroom setting (include reference citation information here).
b. All teachers are required to participate in inclusive education.
c. Inclusive education has strong administrative support at the district and the building level.
3. All students and teachers involved in inclusive education on this junior high school campus will be
participants in the research project.
a. Sixty-two students with learning disabilities and their parents will be included in the research
project.
b. Twenty regular education content area teachers will be included in the research project.
c. Three special education teachers and three paraprofessionals will be involved in this research
project.

Writer’s Role
1. The writer holds a B.S. in secondary education and an endorsement in special education.
2. The writer has been teaching for 6 years and with the present junior high school for 3 years.
3. The writer’s role at the school is the special education department chair and program coordinator for
inclusive education at the junior high school level.
a. The writer is responsible for coordinating individual educational plans for all special education
students on campus.
b. The writer is responsible for scheduling students, teachers, and paraprofessionals associated
with inclusive education classes on campus.
c. The writer consults with regular education teachers and with special educators experiencing
problems in inclusive settings.
d. The writer administers all academic achievement testing for special education referrals and for re-
evaluations.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 19

Chapter II: Study of the Problem


Problem Description
The problem is that many junior high school students with learning disabilities who are placed in inclusive
education do not show year-to-year progress.
1. Students do not complete homework assignments.
2. Students function below grade level on tests.
3. Students earn low report card grades.
4. Students are underperforming on high-stakes tests.

Problem Documentation
1. Thirty of the 62 students (48%) with learning disabilities completed less than half of their assigned
homework in one or more of their inclusion classes in the last grading period.
2. Twenty of the 62 students (32%) with learning disabilities did not show progress on classroom tests in
one or more of their inclusion classes in the last grading period.
3. Twenty of the 62 students (32%) with learning disabilities showed no improvement on their last report
card in one or more inclusion classes.
4. Eighteen of the 62 students (29%) with learning disabilities failed at least one section of the high-
stakes test administered this past fall.

Literature Review
The practice of including special needs students in general education classroom settings has had limited
success to date.
1. Special education students in inclusive settings experience failure for a variety of reasons. Some of
the reasons include poor organizational skills, lack of basic skills, lack of training for classroom
teachers, and non-relevant curriculum (include reference citation information here).
2. Inclusive education programs at the secondary level are difficult to implement successfully. The
difficulty pertains to a single subject academic staff, teenage student social behaviors, which tends to
emphasize a need to conform (include reference citation information here).
3. Researchers have used various methods to document the success of special needs students in
inclusive settings.
a. One study counted time spent by general education classroom teachers working with special
needs students and correlated these minutes spent with student progress on classroom tests and
found a significant positive correlation (include reference citation information here).
b. Surveys have been used among staff members to assess perceived success of students involved
in inclusion (include reference citation information here).
c. Daily report cards have been used to assess students’ success in special education settings
(include reference citation information here).
4. According to the literature, poor teacher attitudes, lack of student organizational skills, lack of basic
skills, and the absence of curricular or evaluative modifications were causes of students’
failure/success in inclusive classrooms.
a. Students were found to be more successful in classrooms where teachers had positive attitudes
toward inclusive education (include reference citation information here).
b. Students’ poor organizational skills and lack of basic skills contributed to their lack of academic
success (include reference citation information here).
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 20

c. Curricular modifications and alternative grading strategies contributed to student success in


inclusive settings (include reference citation information here).

Causative Analysis
There are a number of causes leading to the problem of junior high students with learning disabilities in
inclusion classrooms not showing year-to-year progress.
1. Students with learning disabilities do not complete homework always accurately.
a. Students with learning disabilities appear to lack organizational skills and lack basic skills
necessary for academic success.
b. Students with learning disabilities appear to lack study skills necessary for basic academic
success.
c. Basic skill levels of students with learning disabilities are below average.
2. Students with learning disabilities do not always achieve passing grades on tests.
a. Students with learning disabilities appear to lack appropriate study skills necessary for successful
test taking.
b. Students with learning disabilities have not developed sufficient test-taking strategies.
c. Students with learning disabilities may not have reading levels commensurate with tests
presented by general education classroom teachers.
d. Students with learning disabilities often experience test anxiety.
3. Classroom teachers do not modify the curriculum and/or teaching methods to meet the individual
needs of students with learning disabilities.
a. Classroom teachers do not have the information necessary to make curricular modifications.
b. Classroom teachers do not want to participate in inclusive education.
c. Classroom teachers are not aware of accommodations prescribed by students’ Individual
Educational Plans (IEPs).
d. Classroom teachers are not aware of the legal rights of students with learning disabilities.

Chapter III: Outcomes and Analysis


Goals (Expectations)
The majority of junior high school students with learning disabilities, when involved in inclusive education,
will show progress on assignments, tests, report cards, and high-stakes test.

Expected Outcomes (i.e., Measurable Objectives)


Several specific outcomes will be achieved by students with learning disabilities involved in inclusive
education.
1. No more than 10 of the 62 students (16% or less) who have learning disabilities and assigned to
inclusion classes will complete less than half of their assigned homework in any of their inclusion
classes.
2. No more than 8 of the 62 students (13% or less) who have learning disabilities and assigned to
inclusion classes will not show progress on all their classroom tests.
3. No more than 4 of the 62 students (6%) who have learning disabilities and assigned to inclusion
classes will lack improvement on their report cards in all their classes.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 21

4. No more than 3 of the 62 students (5%) who have learning disabilities and assigned to inclusion
classes will fail any of the sections of their high-stakes tests.

Measurement of Outcomes
(This will become a paragraph in your proposal, describing how the measure is to be done.)
1. This is the number of students who complete pre- and post-classroom assignments.
2. This is the number of students receiving A, B, C, D, or F on classroom tests at the pre-and post-
collection times.
3. This is the number of students receiving A, B, C, D, or F on their report card at the pre- and post-
collection times.
4. This is number of students who passed and failed at least one section of a high-stakes test at the pre-
and post-collection times.

Analysis of Results
1. The percentage of students completing classroom assignments, various grades on classroom tests,
various grades on report cards, and passing or not passing all sections of high-stakes tests will be
computed. These data (both the number and the percentage) will be displayed in tables for each of
the four objectives.
2. Charts and graphs will display data visually comparing pre- and post-implementation data for each of
the four objectives.
3. Four z-tests (one for each of the objectives) will be used to compare pre- and post-implementation
percentage data to see whether there is an increase at the .05 level of significance.

Chapter IV: Solution Strategy


Problem Statement
The problem is that many junior high school students with learning disabilities who are placed in inclusive
education do not show year-to-year progress.

Discussion
1. A number of solutions have been gleaned from the literature.
a. Students with learning disabilities benefit from instruction in study skills and organizational
techniques.
1) Students improve rate of homework completion when using a daily assignment calendar or
report card (include reference citation information here).
2) Students receive better grades when daily monitoring sheets are used (include reference
citation information here).
b. Classroom teachers will make modifications to their curriculum if given training in effective
techniques.
1) When teachers received assistance in mastering skills relevant to inclusive education, they
became committed to the change (include reference citation information here).
2) Inclusion classes were viewed as more successful when classroom teachers experienced
regular contact with special educators (include reference citation information here).
3) Teachers will modify evaluative techniques when instructed on effective methods for doing so
(include reference citation information here).
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 22

c. Student success rates are higher in classrooms of teachers who have positive attitudes about
inclusion.
1) Teachers have improved attitudes towards inclusion when provided with additional support
(include reference citation information here).
2) Teachers have more positive attitudes toward inclusion when class sizes were reduced
(include reference citation information here).
3) Student success rates in inclusive settings are greater in schools where there is strong
administrative support (include reference citation information here).
4) Student success rates are higher in school districts that provide adequate financial support
for the inclusion model (include reference citation information here).
2. Special education students in inclusive settings experience success when teacher attitudes are
positive, administrative support is strong, and instruction in study skills is provided to students.
a. Teachers can be trained in effective methods of working with special needs students in the
general education classroom setting.
b. Information regarding IEP mandates for individual children can be provided to classroom
teachers.
c. Students can receive training in effective study and organizational techniques.
d. Regular support from special education staff can be implemented. (Additional funds for increased
support or smaller class sizes are not available.)
e. Strong administrative support can be utilized to encourage teacher training in effective techniques
for working with special needs students.

Description of Selected Solutions/Calendar Plan


1. Several approaches to improving the success rate of special education students in inclusive settings
can be realistically implemented.
a. Students with learning disabilities will be instructed in techniques to improve organizational and
study skills, including the use of daily assignment calendars and material organization.
b. Special education staff will provide training to teachers in inclusive settings.
1) Training will be given on effective curriculum modifications and evaluative options.
2) Teachers will receive information condensed from each student’s IEP to aid in modification
planning.
c. Classroom teachers will receive additional support in classrooms serving special needs students.
2. The following steps will be taken.
a. Students with learning disabilities will receive instruction in improving organizational skills.
1) Students will be instructed in various methods of note-taking.
2) Students will use a daily calendar to keep track of assignments.
3) Students will receive instruction and monitoring of notebook organization.
b. Classroom teachers will receive instructions on effective modification techniques for students with
learning disabilities and will begin implementing these suggestions.
1) Classroom teachers will receive information condensed from students’ IEPs mandating
various modifications in curriculum and evaluation methods.
2) Classroom teachers will adjust assignments to coincide realistically with student ability levels.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 23

3) Classroom teachers will receive training on various curricular modifications beneficial to


students with learning disabilities.
c. Classroom teachers will receive additional support in inclusive settings.
1) Teachers will be provided with assistance to complete additional clerical requirements
associated with inclusive education.
2) Special education teachers and/or paraprofessionals will observe the regular classroom with
each inclusion teacher at least two times weekly.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 24

Appendix D

Sample Title Page4


Improving the Success 1

Running head: IMPROVING THE SUCCESS RATE

Improving the Success Rate of Students with

Learning Disabilities in Junior High Inclusive Settings

Sam Student

University of Phoenix

4
Note: The Sample Title Page, Sample Table of Contents, and Sample Abstract are shown with page
borders; this is to distinguish these pages from the rest of this handbook. Do NOT include the page
borders in your own research project. For the purposes of your University of Phoenix Action
Research Project, you will number your pages in sequential pagination starting with the title
page as the first page number.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 25

Appendix E
Sample Table of Contents5

Improving the Success 2

Table of Contents

Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………....3

Chapter I: Introduction...........................................................................................................4

Problem Statement………………………………………………………………………..4

Purpose…………………………………………………………………………………….5

Description of Community………………………………………………………………..6

Description of Work Setting………………………………………………………………6

Writer's Role…………………………………………………………………………….....6

Chapter II: Study of the Problem…………………………………………………………………..7

Problem Description……………………………………………………………………….7

Problem Documentation…………………………………………………………………..9

Literature Review………………………………………………………………………….10

Causative Analysis……………………………………………………………………..….20

Chapter III: Outcomes and Evaluation…………………………………………………………... 23

Goals and Expectations…………………………………………………………………..23

Expected Outcomes……………………………………………………………………....23

Measurement of Outcomes……………………………………………………………....23

Analysis of Results………………………………………………………………………...25

Chapter IV: Solution Strategy……………………………………………………………………...27

5
Note: The Sample Title Page, Sample Table of Contents, and Sample Abstract are shown with page
borders; this is to distinguish these pages from the rest of this handbook. Do NOT include the page
borders in your own research project.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 26

Improving the Success 3

Problem Statement………………………………………………………………………..27

Discussion………………………………………………………………………………….27

Description of Selected Solutions………………………………………………………..30

Calendar Plan……………………………………………………………………………...33

Chapter V: Results………………………………………………………………………………….38

Results……………………………………………………………………………………...38

Discussion………………………………………………………………………………….40

Recommendations and Plans for Dissemination……………………………………...45

References…………………………………………………………………………………………..48

Appendix A: Informed Consent Letter…………………………………………………………….51

Appendix B: Pre-Project Teacher Survey………………………………………………………...53

Appendix C: Post-Project Teacher Survey……………………………………………………….55


6
Appendix D: Action Research Project Presentation Verification Form ……………………….59

6
You may have more appendices as fits your research project.
Action Research Project: Student Handbook 27

Appendix F
Sample Abstract7
Improving the Success 4
Abstract
This action research project was designed to improve the success rate of students in inclusive settings at

the junior high school level who have learning disabilities. Prior to implementing the solution strategy,

students received failing grades on report cards, did not complete homework, and achieved below

average test scores. Students with learning disabilities received direct instruction related to improving

organization skills and basic skills, teachers were trained on the components and the mandates of

Individual Educational Plans, and in-services were conducted on effective strategies for assisting

students with learning disabilities in inclusive settings. Analysis of the data indicated that the combination

of strategies implemented contributed to an improved academic success rate for students with learning

disabilities in inclusive settings.

7
Note: The Sample Title Page, Sample Table of Contents, and Sample Abstract are shown with page
borders; this is to distinguish these pages from the rest of this handbook. Do NOT include the page
borders in your own research project.