Professional Development Workshop

Monday, February 24th, 2020 ~ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm ~ Virginia City 3


This workshop is designed to assist teachers and school-based personnel (e.g., administrators and support staff) to conduct action research from an ethnographic perspective. Action research has the potential of moving teachers beyond what they know in terms of content, to considering how to use what they know to engage in transformative teaching. Through the critical aspect of self-reflection, action research raises awareness of what is occurring in the classroom, helping teachers adjust their instruction. Action research has also been used at a school-wide level in order to address particular issues that administrators and faculty want to study together to facilitate their school improvement plans.

Action research is a process of conducting research on site that generates a question related to improving practice, then it involves the teacher-research in initiating an action plan in order to collect and analyze data related to the question. The process involves self-reflection, and may generate more questions along the way that require additional data collection and analysis. What is unique to an ethnographic-based approach to action research is the use of an ethnographic perspective in order to orient the action research activities. The ethnographic base presumes that we view classroom or school participants acting as local cultures. This perspective also makes visible how educational participants construct norms, beliefs, and language in common as they interact in their educational spaces. We use ethnography in order to better understand the cultural aspects of our everyday interactions, while we engage in action research that seeks to solve local issues and problems of practice in classrooms, schools, and alternative educational spaces.

The workshop presenters will guide participants through several ethnographic processes and analytic techniques. Throughout the workshop we ask guiding questions in order to engage the participants in recognizing how our orienting theory directs the questions that we ask, the data we collect, and the way in which we approach analysis of data. We illustrate data collection methods that may be employed and are primarily qualitative or mixed methods in nature. We will discuss using a variety of data collection tools (e.g., session evaluations, artifacts, surveys, teacher / student work samples, videos) that could be used by various stakeholders such as teacher researchers, mentors, school district staff, university professors, graduate student researchers.

For purposes of data analysis, we demonstrate various techniques such as domain and taxonomic analysis, basic content and discourse analysis, and constructing event maps that provide ways of viewing data over time. In addition, participants will be engaged in formulating an action research project with their own ethnographic action research questions. For those in the session who have conducted action research projects prior to this workshop, we will discuss possible advanced analytics as well as illustrating how they can assist as action research mentors, working with novice action researchers.

About the Presenters

LeAnn G. Putney, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her ethnographic and action research projects have focused on how teachers and students construct responsible communities for academic success in K-12 schools. She has conducted action research with classroom teachers and administrators in numerous school settings, including current work with First Year Experience students and instructors who are conducting civic engagement action research projects. LeAnn has examined teacher and collective classroom efficacy from a Vygotskian perspective to illustrate how efficacy can be developed and enhanced. She also co-authored A Vision of Vygotsky, a book on Vygotskian theories related to pedagogical principles for teachers.

Suzanne H. Jones, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Literacy with the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University. Her research interests reflect her experience as an elementary teacher with inner-city students. Suzanne’s research interests include investigations on text structure and interventions including small group discussions, self-explanations, and argumentation. Her research interests also include examining the role of emotions on conceptual change, attitude change, and belief change in elementary science classrooms. Her recent involvement in efficacy has resulted in a co-authored publication in Journal of Teacher Education on collective classroom efficacy and a co-authored piece on student teaching efficacy in Critical Issues in Teacher Education.