Action Research Outline

Update 7/1/2018: Added formal research question and additional detail in Step 2 (time period, data sources).

As I look at my renewed focus on applying data analytics and human creativity to the problem of community college developmental education, it really is an Action Research problem. That is, my goal is to empower and encourage advisors to apply Action Research methodologies to their advising. Accomplishing this, however, will require some research of my own to “prime the pump.”

An essential place to start is to research how effective the changes we’ve tried in the past have been. Specifically, we made a change a few years back to our ELA prerequisite requirements to allow instructors to classify their courses as needing an ELA prerequisite, corequisite, or no requirements. Unfortunately though, the College hasn’t studied how effective it’s been. A study on this would lay the groundwork to further study changes and experiments against an existing set of success metrics.

My initial research question is, “Have the implemented recommendations of the SVCC ELA Task Force improved student success and time to completion at Sauk Valley Community College?”

Here’s a brief overview of how this study could be performed and how I plan to lay the groundwork for future Action Research in this area.

Step 1: Define Success Criteria

  • Will need to discuss with Institutional Research, Recruiting, and Student Services
  • Starting points might be
    • Retention rates
    • Pass rates for gateway courses (e.g. ENG 101, 103)
    • Program completion rates
  • Crucial to select appropriate success criteria so they can be used to compare all changes/trials going forward

Step 2: Compare Results

  • Use success criteria to compare before/after ELA change.
  • Time period for comparison would be Fall 2010 – Spring 2018 semesters (2013-14 was a transition year, so this allows for 4 years before and after complete implementation)
  • Data would be extracted from College’s student information system (SIS) and (if applicable) learning management system (LMS)
  • Control for other possible factors

Step 3: Review the Literature

  • Compare ELA change results with similar changes in published trials
  • Search for other potential trials that may work at SVCC

Step 4: Develop/Find Other Trials

  • Compare other trials (existing and future) against success criteria
  • Use data from successful and unsuccessful trials to select future trials
  • Repeat the process