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Unlocking the Untapped Potential: Teacher-Led Action Research in India

Written by Umesh Bedkute, Research Associate


National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in India emphasizes the integration of action research as a crucial component. The policy urged teachers to engage in reflective practices, adapt teaching methods, and contribute to the continuous improvement of the education system. This blog aims to explore the critical role that teacher action research can play in improving India's education system.



Action research is a reflective process where educators systematically study and adjust their teaching methods, aiming to improve learning outcomes and address specific challenges in the classroom. Drawing from its historical evolution, core principles, and potential to tackle the contemporary challenges of the Indian education system, I illuminate how this approach can usher in a new era of educational excellence and social progress.


Teacher action research finds its origins in the United States in the 1940s, At its inception, Kurt Lewin laid the foundational stones of this movement. In the United Kingdom, Johns Hopkins harnessed its potential for curriculum development in the early 1970s. Lawrence Stenhouse, in 1975, championed action research, He emphasized teachers as researchers, advocating for an approach where educators actively engage in reflection and experimentation to enhance teaching and learning practices. Today, it stands as a dynamic and evolving practice, empowering educators to take charge of their pedagogical journeys.





Teacher action research involves a cyclical and transformative process, characterized by four fundamental steps: planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. This iterative cycle is the crucible in which educators forge new paths for themselves and their students. It empowers them to identify areas needing improvement, devise strategies for change, implement these strategies with diligence, and critically assess their impact. Action research, as Corey defines it, is not just research undertaken by teachers and administrators but a voyage toward self-improvement.

 

Indian education is marked by numerous challenges like large classes, limited resources, and overburdened teachers. Educators find themselves increasingly accountable for their students' progress. However, the pathways to critical reflection on their teaching practices remain dimly lit. Traditional teacher training programs have failed to adequately equip educators to meet the multifaceted demands of today's classrooms.





By engaging in action research projects during teacher training, teachers can acquire the essential research skills vital for their roles as classroom leaders. A science teacher at Disha India School, Haryana effectively tackled tech integration challenges by experimenting with digital tools, ensuring a seamless blend of traditional and modern teaching methods. In a Sunbird school near Manipur, an elementary teacher engaged in reflective practices in action research to address the diverse needs of students with varying learning abilities, resulting in more inclusive teaching practices. Additionally, a history teacher in Barmer, successfully made the subject culturally relevant by incorporating local historical events into the curriculum, fostering a deeper connection and pride among students.

 

Moreover, action research contributes to professional growth. An English teacher in Raichur, Karnataka continually refined vocabulary-building activities through action research, adapting them to the linguistic diversity in the classroom and empowering herself to bridge language barriers effectively. These examples showcase how action research not only addresses specific challenges but also promotes continuous improvement, ultimately benefiting both educators and students in the Indian educational landscape.



As India seeks to modernize its education system, action research emerges as an indispensable tool to empower teachers, promote social justice, and ensure that the country's educational practices align with global standards. By embracing this dynamic approach, teachers can become researchers of their pedagogical paths, illuminating the way toward enhanced teaching and learning experiences.


References

  1. Avison, D. E., Lau, F., Myers, M. D., & Nielsen, P. A. (1999). Action research. Communications of the ACM, 42(1), 94-97.

  2. Mertler, C. A. (2009). Action research: Teachers as researchers in the classroom. Sage.

  3. Dyer, C., Choksi, A., Awasty, V., Iyer, U., Moyade, R., Nigam, N., & Purohit, N. (2002). Democratizing teacher education research in India. Comparative Education, 38(3), 337-351.

  4. Kumar, A. (2021). New education policy (NEP) 2020: A roadmap for India 2.0. University of South Florida M3 Center Publishing, 3(2021), 36.

  5. Disha India Education Foundation. (n.d.). Sahaas Vidyalaya. Disha India Education Foundation. https://www.dishaindiaeducation.org/sahaas-vidyalaya.html

  6. Sunbird Trust. (n.d.). One Day, All Children. Sunbird Trust. https://sunbirdtrust.com/one-day-all-children/ 

  7. Azim Premji Foundation, (APF) (2019) Azim Premji Foundation, (APF) (2019), Learning Curve, No, 4. Learning Curve (4). ISSN 2582-1644


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