A Journey Through Technology

What are the characteristics of an engaging Action Research Report?

on November 20, 2015

Reading a research paper isn’t always an enjoyable activity. Often times, research papers are too formal and focus heavily on sharing as much data as possible, without any thought as to the readability of the paper. This week’s focus is to look at action research papers that are engaging to read, and what characteristics they all share. The two readings I focused on were “Teaching Science to High School Students Who Have Limited Formal Schooling” by Kathy Hermann, and “Assessment: A New Science Teacher’s Attempt to Use Assessment as a Form of Conversation” by Christopher O. Tracy. I also used one of the articles from my literature review, “Lecture-Free High School Biology Using and Audience Response System” by Larry J. Barnes.

To discuss what makes a paper engaging, it’s important to first know what “engaging” means. The Merriam-Webster (2015) definition of engaging is: very attractive or pleasing in a way that holds your attention. For me, if something engages me, I will enjoy reading it, but I will also understand what I’m reading significantly more than if I’m not engaged.

The first aspect that caught my attention for each of these papers were the titles. Each of the titles allows the reader to easily grasp the focus of each authors research. It is easy to tell from Tracy’s paper (2002) that his focus was on assessment, or that Barnes (2008) researched the effect of audience response systems on trying a lecture-free biology classroom. Many of the articles I used in my literature review had rather confusing titles, because once I started reading through the research, it was not at all what I expected. For example, “Conducting a Classroom Mini-Experiment Using an Audience Response System: Demonstrating the Isolation Effect” by Melinda J. Micheletto (2011), was not an easy title to decode. It was hard to tell just my reading the title if the research was about the “Isolation Effect”, or if it was focused on “Using an Audience Response System”. Once I took the time to read through the paper, I figured it out, but the title was definitely confusing to me.

Another characteristic that these three articles shared was the use of first person. I felt like I could relate to the author as they explained the research, and that connection made the papers easier to read. Other research papers feel cold and distance as I read through them, which prevents me from really getting into whatever it is that they are trying to present.

In the research paper by Tracy (2002), I was also engaged by his use of humor in his introduction section, as well as throughout the paper. “As I stepped back to look at my drawing, I began to laugh to. Stage two of my mitosis diagram looked very little like a cell reproducing and quite a lot like a human buttocks mooning our classroom as if the teaching gods were sending their weekly message to all new teachers that this teaching gig is not going to be easy.” (Tracy, 2002) This story made a connection with me because I had something similar happen to me while I was student teaching. Because I am able to relate to the author, it is easy for me to become engaged and thoroughly enjoy reading his paper.

Based on the readings for this week and a few other papers, my big three characteristics for an engaging action research report are  a straight-forward title, using first-person, and using humor to draw readers in. Reading these papers this week has changed my thoughts on how I should write my paper, and I will definitely think about making sure my writing is engaging as I start to write my research paper.

References:

Barnes, L. (2008). Lecture-Free High School Biology Using an Audience Response System. The American Biology Teacher, 70(9), 531-536.

Engaging. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engaging

Hermann, K. (2002). Teaching Science to High School Students Who Have Limited Formal Schooling. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://gse.gmu.edu/research/lmtip/arp/ex

Micheletto, M. (2011). Conducting A Classroom Mini-Experiment Using An Audience Response System: Demonstrating the Isolation Effect. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 8(8).

Tracy, C. (2002). Assessment: A New Science Teacher’s Attempt to Use Assessment as a Form of Conversation. Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://gse.gmu.edu/research/lmtip/arp/ex

Advertisements

4 responses to “What are the characteristics of an engaging Action Research Report?

  1. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- I think those are all good suggestions humor, straight forward titles, and using first person. I will think about these as well when I start writing my report.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tristan says:

    I also liked the humor that Tracy used in his research report. It kept me reading, because like you, I too could relate to the whole drawing thing. I’m a horrible drawer and had my junior highers rolling more than once last year with my drawings in science class. I liked the first person point of view in the papers because it wasn’t just facts and figures, it was a situation that I could see as being personal, and therefore it was more engaging than just reading data. I agree that the titles were much better than a lot of the articles out there on different topics. I know for me every week I type something related to what we are learning about in google and the ones that have titles that make no sense I skip over, when they could be very beneficial. Titles are a big part of the paper and this has got me thinking I need to come up with a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. clindquist17 says:

    You wrote, “The first aspect that caught my attention for each of these papers were the titles. Each of the titles allows the reader to easily grasp the focus of each authors research.” I didn’t even think about this, but you are right! Titles are important. People don’t usually read research papers for fun (at least I don’t think they do). When they look for research papers, they have a purpose in mind and many times, it’s the title that they read first. You made a really good point and gave me something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pwjohnsen says:

    While Tracy did use humor and has an attractive writing style, I was not engaged because he took so long to get to the point. In addition, I did not see any literature support or strong evidence from data to back up most of his statements. For those reasons, I did not find his report engaging. I do agree that humor and personalized writing can improve engagement, but I think the first priority should be directness, clarity, validity, and reliability. Only after these are accomplished, should “frills” be added.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: