What Is Action Research?

“Action research is any systematic inquiry conducted by teacher researchers, principals, school counselors, or other stakeholders in the teaching/learning environment to gather information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how well their students learn. This information is gathered with the goals of gaining insight, developing reflective practice, effecting positive changes in the school environment (and on educational practice in general), and improving student outcomes and the lives of those involved.”

Geoffrey Mills, Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher (2nd Edition)

The IBSC promotes the collaboration of educators in member schools worldwide to design, implement, evaluate, and report on in-depth Action Research projects they have undertaken to improve their effectiveness in the classroom and beyond. Working remotely with a team of educators with similar interests, these researchers engage in discussion, offer informed reflection, and generate and evaluate innovative ideas about best practices in the education of boys.

Since the IBSC introduced its Action Research program in 2005, more than 220 teachers and administrators from all regions of the IBSC membership have contributed to these projects, which are conducted over a two-year period with the assistance of an IBSC Action Research coordinator. In many cases, their reports offer detailed information on how to replicate both research and results in your school environment.

More than 200 Action Research projects have been undertaken since the program was introduced by the IBSC in 2005. Results are shared at IBSC conferences and workshops, and they are made available online through the Member Center. Links to full reports are available to IBSC members only (members must login to access).

IBSC Action Research cohorts have investigated various thought-provoking topics including:

  • 2016-17: Collaboration and the Power of Learning Groups
  • 2015-16: Boys as Global Citizens
  • 2014-15: Boys as Makers
  • 2013-14: Character Education
  • 2012-13: Creativity Through Digital Technologies
  • 2011-12: Mining Key Pedagogical Approaches
  • 2010-11: Languages, Leadership, and Libraries
  • 2009-10: Boys and Writing
  • 2008-09: Boys and Masculinity
  • 2007-08: Positive Relationships / Positive Learning
  • 2006-07: Boys and Digital Literacy
  • 2005-06: Boys and Reading

Sample Reports

1. The Power of Stories We Tell (Global Citizenship)
When Stuart Pearson, Scots College (AU), found that a unit on Global Connections didn’t elicit the empathy for human rights he hoped for in his students, he asked students to research, design, and write globally themed books to engage more specifically with children’s rights. (Read more.)

2. Ecological Apartheid (Global Citizenship)
Michelle Heaton of The Fenn School (USA) turned a unit on Climate Change into an introduction to global citizenship when she paired science with service, both simulated and real. One of her goals was to help her Grade 6 students appreciate their own roles in protecting the environment. (Read more.)

3. Character: A Product of Our Habits (Character Education)
To assist boys who struggled with self-management skills—and possible “excessive parental intervention”—Josh Norman of the City of London School (UK) introduced a series of organization workshops for fifteen 12-13-year-olds over a five-week period. (Read more.)

4. Vertical Tutor Groups in the Primary Years (Character Education)
At Christ Church Grammar School (AU), Maria Hodges set up and evaluated a vertical tutor group, drawing students from the same House, five each from Years 4, 5, and 6. Her goal was “to develop core links of trust, friendliness, and, most importantly, in learning how to care for each other.” (Read more.)

5. Dads Read, Boys Win (Libraries)
Lower School librarians Brenda Snead and Lucinda Whitehurst, at St. Christopher’s School (USA), developed and tested DADS READ, a mentorship initiative that called for fathers to team up with sons, read books together, then compete. (Read more.)

6. Writing for the Authentic Audience (Writing)
Knowing that many of her Grade 9 students felt anxious about the writing process, Debbie Martin of Maritzburg College (SA) set out to test the value of using an authentic audience “to help boys become prolific, powerful, and confident writers.” By removing herself as the sole audience for their work, she introduced a new motivation and purpose. (Read more.)

Browse the Complete Action Research
Report Index (IBSC Members Only)