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Research Community Needs Voices of Classroom Teachers
Dr. Arif Altun Touts Potential Role of Action Research

Dr. Arif AltunRecent exchanges on the TESL-L listserv and in the ESL MiniConference newsletter, regarding theory vs. experience as sources of teaching practice, motivated Dr. Arif Altun, of Nigde University, Turkey, to contribute the following article.

Should teachers be involved in applied research process? Or, are they mere practitioners to apply the professional research findings in their classrooms? These questions can be extended to many other similar questions. Such questions are frequently being explored extensively in pre-service and in-service programs through their research methods and Second Language Acquisition courses in their programs.

However, I think the real issue we need to reconsider would be how the practitioners could convert their experience into knowledge to help build better learning environments. The position in which classroom teachers are is an excellent opportunity to provide a better insight into what is going on in the real learning community. Their contribution, using the right tools, on the other hand, would just make it happen. For that purpose, action research as a research tool would reposition classroom teachers (practitioners) in the research community to make their voices heard in a scholarly manner.

Action research is a powerful research tool to solve the everyday problems directly relevant to actual situations in the field where all the parties are heavily engaged in developing a better context for learning. The steps in action research, on the other hand, differ from other types of research (See Nunan, 2002, for more information). These steps can be listed as follows:

1. Define the problem
2. Reflect on the problem
3. Decide on data collection tools (instruments)
4. Reflect on the data collection tools and collect data accordingly
5. Reflect on the findings
6. Take action accordingly
7. Reflect on the results of the taken action
8. Repeat the cycle from starting at any point depending on the results of the action

As can be inferred from these steps, action research is a cyclic process. As new solutions are proposed and actions are taken, practitioners go further to observe the results of their decisions. There is no end to this exploration process on the way to developing new solutions and strategies to eliminate the confronted problems. Practitioners systematic approaches to these problems would definitely shed a light upon the knowledge construction process and provide insights to their peers on the way to promoting better and mutually shared learning environments.

Nunan, D. Action Research In Language Education. Available online at: [http://www.les.aston.ac.uk/lsu/research/tdtr92/tdtrdn.html] (Retrieved on May 30, 2002)

By Arif Altun, Ed.D.
altunar@nigde.edu.tr
Faculty of Education, Nigde University
Nigde, Turkey

2002 ESL MiniConference Online