Sunday, May 24, 2009

Second: Comparison of Articles

I am sure that all of you already gain some knowledge and explanation (in previous post) regarding the three articles that i will be analyzing and compare in this post. Yes, in this post, I will compare among the articles in term of why the researchers did the action research, the materials used, participants, data sources, data gathering and data analysis.

Why the researchers do action research?
Article 1 (by Cohen & Byrnes, 2007) and Article 2 (by Keaton, Palmer, Nicholas & Late, 2007) described about action researches which were done to improve current practice in the classroom whereas in Article 3 (by Bintz & Dillard, 2007) the action research was done to see the role of teachers as reflective practitioners. Due to the difference, we will see the different approach in the action researches.

Research Questions
Article 1:
Does direct instruction teaching in letter-sound associations, blending sounds and segmenting sounds in words, followed by playful extensions assists students in identifying letter-sounds, developing a sight vocabulary, and in increasing the number of correct spelling approximations in writing?

Article 2:
What is the best method of teaching vocabulary to third grade students?

Article 3:
- Who decides the curriculum?
- Who selects what themes and topics to be studied?
- Who decides how learning is conducted?
- Who decides what questions get asked and answered?
- How is learning evaluated and assessed?

The research question is the central focus of the investigation. As we can see here, Article 1 and Article 2 have only one research question whereby Article 3 has five research questions. Well, if we refresh back to the previous post of the overview of the articles, we might realize that Article 1 and Article 2 discussed about action research that only involved a short period of time (Article 1 - 4 weeks, Article 2 - 12 weeks) and action research described in Article 3 took a long period of time (3 years). The research questions of the article suit the time frame of the action research as more questions might need more time for data gathering sessions and data interpretation (Macintyre, 2000). The researchers must ask themselves how to answer the questions and what kind of evidence need to be collected to show the improvement that has occurred.

Article 1:
Conducted in a kindergarden classroom.

Article 2:
Conducted in a 3rd grade classroom.

Article 3:
Conducted in a 4th grade classroom.

As seen above, all the studies were conducted in the classroom and there is only slight different of the students' grade.

Article 1:
Kindergarden students which were made up of 13 regular education students and 2 Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students.

Article 2:
The participants were 16 third grade students, 6 girls and 10 boys which were equally distributed into 2 groups: story with instruction group and traditional group.

Article 3:
Two in-school teachers (a literacy coach and a 4th grade teacher) and a university professor (as a researcher)

Two studies were participated by the students and only the one study was using educators as the participants. By this, we would realize that the approach of the studies would be different as the participants were from different group of people: the students and the educators. The two studies that involved students were more on taking some actions to the students and examine the effects of the actions, whereby, for the study with educators as the main participants, the educators were reflecting their own teaching and day by day discussing and planning to make teaching better and suit students.

Article 1:
a) Materials
Peer Assisted Learning Strategies for First Grade Readers (PALS) were used together with the playful extensions: an alphabet manipulative game, dry erase marker boards, overhead alphabet tiles and blackboard blending games. Apart from that, Big Books, language experience charts and independent reading were used to enhance the direct instruction lessons.

b) Data collection
Students were assessed in skills of alphabet recognition, letter-sound associations, sight word recognition and specific stages of writing development. Writing samples were evaluated according to the Five Stages of Writing Development to determine the specific stages of writing for each students. This was done pre-test, before the implementation of the project and also for post-test, after implementation.

c) Data interpretation
The pre-test helped in dividing the students into 3 groups, high, average and low performing groups. After 12 weeks, the post-test was done.

d) Procedure
Teacher directed lesson were conducted for group A, B, and C three times a week for 15-20 minutes per lesson for 12 weeks. Five activities presented during the lessons; Letter-Sound Practice, Phonological Segmentation and Blending, More Letter-Sound Practice, Sounding Out and Reading Words Fast. Along with these activities, playful extensions followed each lessons. Post-test were carried after the end of the project.

Article 2:
a) Materials
Six books were selected and these books had not been read to the children during the academic year. Six tier two vocabulary words were taken from each books and taught to both groups of students .

b) Data sources
Audio-tape of pre-tests and post-tests as well as students conversations during lessons. Writing samples were also being used.

c) Data analysis
- From the audio-tape, the mean scores for both groups were calculated for accurate usage of the 6 weekly targeted vocabulary words and the number of words used in a sentence to describe the 6 weekly targeted words.
- Writing samples were scored for correct word usage in a sentence each Friday and rated numerically, with a value 0f 6 (used all the weekly words accurately) and 0 (did not use any of the word meaning correctly). Means scores were calculated.
- Graphs were used to report the means scores.

d) Procedures:
- The instructional approaches between the two groups differed.
- The story with instruction group was read a book throughout the week, given time for discussion and three days of direct word learning strategies each week. The students were taught targeted words in context by having discussions about the words that were encountered in the story.
- The traditional group did not participate in the read aloud and was given daily worksheets to complete four days each week. The vocabulary instruction only involved direct, explicit instruction of the worksheet task as the they worked with packets and teachers taught and assigned tasks.
- Pre-test was orally administered to both groups each Monday and post-test on Friday after the intervention. This went on for four weeks.

Article 3:
a) Data Sources
Recording of ongoing classroom observations, ongoing reflective conversations and journal consisted of notes recorded and shared during the debriefing sessions about the teachers collaborative teaching based on classroom observations and reflective conversations.

b) Data Collection
Recorded classroom observations, reflective conversations, debriefing sessions journal. These data were collected for three years which in these three years, both of the teachers planned, implemented and assessed a variety of classroom projects as well as conducting debriefing sessions to reflect and plan.

c) Data Analysis
Grounded in principles of naturalistics and using methodology of grounded theory to analyze the data. The teachers used two questions to guide the data analysis: a) what are we learning about ourselves as teachers? and b) what are we learning about curriculum and curriculum development by implementing an integrated literacy and social studies curriculum? One of the teacher wrote the result of the analysis for each year in narrative form.

d) Procedure
- For 3 years, the teachers had planned, implemented and assessed a variety of classroom projects in their teaching. The teachers collected a variety of informal assessment data including classroom observations, teacher notes, anecdotal records and short vignettes based on their informal observations of and interactions with students. They evaluated, discussed and reflected on these data to see what worked and what did not in order to reevaluate past lessons and plan future ones.
- To answer the research questions, the researchers analyze and discuss the data collected by the teachers using the principles of naturalistic inquiry and grounded theory. The researchers discussed five areas: curriculum control, curriculum source, curriculum choice, curriculum content and curriculum evaluation. Each of this area was based on the research questions.

Discussion regarding the methodology:
In Article 1 and Article 2, both of the action researches used administration of intervention to improve the current problems detected by the researchers. Before giving intervention, the researchers administered pre-test to the participants and then after some time, the researchers administered post-test to compare the result and to see any improvement. Apart from the results of the tests, other data were also analyzed. Action research is cyclical in nature (Taylor, Wilkie & Baser, 2006), however, as we realized, the researchers only did the interventions for one cycle. It is not stated in both the articles that the interventions were modified and administer again in the second cycle. The reason for this, might be due to the results of the intervention which showed positive changes.
Different from action research that was done in Article 3, the teachers were continously reflecting, planning, taking action, observing and evaluating the effects of the actions done in their class for three years in order to see the changes of their practice and beliefs about curriculum and curriculum development. Everytime they undergo debriefing, they record their reflections in a journal. This is a correct practice as teachers able to make connections as they write about their project, keeping balance of retrospection (looking back) and introspection (looking within oneself) in order to participate in the learning exprience (Taylor, Wilkie & Baser, 2006). As less point might be left out, journal can be used as data as it contains the information that might help in an investigation, such as in this action research.
In term of data analysis, Article 1 and Article 2 were quantitative studies as both used simple statistics to analyze the data and present the data. But, in Article 3, the action research was a qualitative study. For the first part when the teachers analyzed and wrote their observations of the student achievement, no formal evaluation instruments were used. All were based on their own informal achievement and interactions with students. Then when this findings were discussed by the researchers, they were guided by the naturalistic inquiry and grounded theory. In the end of the study, the researchers produced a hypothesis; teachers as reflective practitioners continually try to understand what they currently believe about learning, articulate to themselves and others why they believe what they do and use teaching as a powerful tool to enhance student learning and promote their growth.

Macintrye, C. 2000. The Art of Action Research in the Classroom. London: David Fulton Publishers.
Taylor, C., Wilkie, M. & Baser, J. 2006. Doing Action Research. A Guide for School Support Staff. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.