Literacy-Based Action Research: Strategies for Improving Student Achievement

Document Type


Publication Date



Poster presentation at National Youth-at-Risk Conference


Three teachers completing their Reading Specialist M.Ed. degree developed an action research plan centered around literacy instruction throughout the course of the semester. Students analyzed the validity, reliability, and personal bias inherent in their action research study; developed a literature review on a research topic; implemented a plan for conducting action research; and applied evaluation criteria to their own project.

Presenters will explain insights that they have gained from the action research process that will influence their pedagogy and instructional practices moving forward. The first portion of the presentation highlights the findings of an action research study conducted with three 7th grade middle school student who were attending a summer school program. This study provides strategies to motivate struggling readers to increase their vocabulary development, facilitating their comprehension skills. The second action research study evaluated if inclusion of technology will allow students to master sufficient reading standards to allow them to be promoted to the next grade. The third section of the presentation centers on early intervention strategies to assist students in developing metacognitive habits that will enhance academic achievement. In addition, the study promotes student self-efficacy and self-esteem.

Brief Program Description

The presentation will highlight literacy-based action research projects by three Reading Specialist M.Ed. graduate students. The topics of enhancing struggling readers’ vocabulary development using technology; effects of technology during summer school on student promotion; as well as infusion of dialogue and metacognitive strategies to promote self-efficacy and early reading success were explored. Tools for attendees to implement the process of action research in their own classroom will be outlined.


The presentation will begin with a discussion of the nature of action research. Participants will identify goals and rationale for action research and discuss the potential impact of action research on their teaching practice. In addition, development of an action research plan (area of focus statement, variables, research questions, intervention/ innovation, timeline, data collection ideas) will be facilitated.

The presentation will proceed to three vignettes that showcase action research in practice by three Reading Specialist M.Ed. graduate students.

1. Many students throughout a school year receive disciplinary actions for inappropriate cellphone use during school hours. These students are sometimes discipline for disrupting the learning environment. It is time to turn the “disruptions” into “discoveries.” The interventions used in this study will be shared with any and all stakeholders involved in the education of our students.

2. As teachers and parents, we spend lots of time and money looking for ways for our students to master standards ones they missed the first time around. As the world becomes more and more technology prevalent in schools, home and in our lives, what is its role in promoting academic achievement and student success?

3. Metacognition is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. This study focused on the effect of implementing metacognitive reflection activities and conversation on student self-efficacy and reading achievement. In a short presentation, the interventions used in this study will be shared with educators in hopes of propelling the teaching of metacognitive strategies. Viewers will be asked to participate in a self-evaluation questionnaire and reflective journal opportunity before and following the session. They will also be involved in an ongoing discussion throughout the session just as the participants in the study were.


Action research is based on a process that involves the following process (Mills, 2014)-

1. Write an area-of- focus statement.

2. Define the variables.

3. Develop research questions.

4. Describe the intervention or innovation.

5. Describe the membership of the action research group.

6. Describe negotiations that need to be undertaken.

7. Develop a timeline.

8. Develop a statement of resources.

9. Develop data collection ideas.

The proposal is informed by research that showcases the following: (1)Students’ presentations showed evidence of students’ new knowledge and understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary terms at the end of a four-week period. (2) Technology such as Moby Max facilitates students' mastery of new reading standards towards promotion goals. (3)Student-teacher discussion during reflective activities shows evidence of students actively monitoring their understanding during the learning process. It has been proven in multiple formats that metacognition has a positive impact on student learning.


National Youth-at-Risk Conference


Savannah, Georgia