Action Research Process: The DepEd Brand

Ever seen a brand commercial? What makes them unforgettable?

Yes, it’s their taglines. What makes taglines very special? It is because they stand for what the company is offering to the customers and thus guides the company what products to develop. Most especially, it gives the product their identity.

Same can be said for the action research process. It follows the general rule that action research is institutional. The processes, the components, and the templates vary from one institution to another. So, what is really the DepEd Brand?

Chapter 1, section 7 of Republic Act 9155 also known as the Basic Education Act of 2001 mandates to include among the responsibilities of the Department of Education across all governance levels the undertaking of all educational research and studies that will serve as one of the bases for necessary reforms and policy development.

In cognizance of this law, the Department has released issuances providing the policies and guidelines in the conduct of action research. One of such is DepEd Order No. 65, 2. 2003 entitled Institutionalizing Research-Based Decision and Policy Making in the Department which stipulates the prioritization of the conduct of research and innovation undertakings in accordance with the DepEd Research Agenda and to ensure deliberate utilization of research studies in the policy-making process by providing a regular venue for awareness, appreciation, discussion, and dissemination of these studies.

To further strengthen the culture of research in the Department, DepEd has institutionalized the Basic Education Research Agenda (BERA) in 2015, which seeks to build on gains from existing research, generate new knowledge on less explored but priority fields of basic education, systematically focus the DepEd’s attention to relevant education issues, and maximize available resources for research within and outside the Department.

The BERA has four research themes (a) Teaching and Learning, (b) Child Protection, (c) Human Resource Development, and (d) Governance under which are three crosscutting themes of disaster risk reduction management, inclusive education, and gender and development. With the BERA in place, DepEd envisioned to promote the culture of research within the Department to attain quality, equitable, and effective educational practices. All other research efforts in the department are done so in accordance with the mandate and the Department’s vision, mission, and core values in the context of continuously improving itself to better serve its stakeholders.

A framework for the management of research initiatives at all levels of governance is then established through the release of the Research Management Guidelines (DepEd Order No. 16, s. 2017) which aims to provide guidance in managing research initiatives in the national, regional, schools division, and school levels and to improve support mechanism for research such as funding, partnerships, and capacity building. The guidelines provided a mechanism for the conduct of basic research and action research.

However, despite the existence of the said guidelines, confusions still arise in the field as to the format of the classroom-based action research. These feedbacks prompted the research and planning section of the central office to release a supplemental tool in the conduct of researches which seeks to provide clear-cut guidance for those who intend to conduct research and for research managers in evaluating research proposals and providing technical assistance to implementers in the field through Deped Memorandum 144, s. 2017 Supplemental Research Guides and Tools. The supplemental tool discussed five steps or components of action research as follows:

Identify the problem. In this step, teachers are encouraged to reflect on their experiences and identify the most critical problem that affects the students’ learning. Teachers need to identify the gap and what causes it so that they will be able to come up with the most strategic intervention that will target the gap.

Search the literature. Teachers in this step are prompted to refer to previous studies and literature to see if there have been efforts done to solve the problem. Teachers should be able to identify benchmark strategies, innovation, and interventions that they may apply in their own classrooms to solve the previously identified gap.

Develop a strategy, innovation, or intervention. In this component, teachers are encouraged to think of possible ways to solve the problem from the information that they have sieved through during the literature review and along with their previous experiences. In this stage, teachers should clearly articulate how they will solve the problem and what are the data that they should gather as evidences of the effects of their strategy, intervention, or innovation. Teachers should also remember that they do not have to implement all the strategy, innovation, or intervention, but they could only choose one which is suited to their purpose and the identified problem.

Identify the findings. Teachers in this component will now have to analyze the data and consider findings with practical significance. When dealing with quantitative data, simple statistical tools are enough, and when dealing with qualitative data, teachers need to identify recurring themes or patterns.

Make a decision. The final step is when teachers will use their findings to make decisions related to the learning of their students. The teacher will then have to decide whether to continue or discontinue the strategy, innovation, or intervention. They must reflect on the processes on what went well and what went wrong and whether the intervention has solved the problem or the gap. Doing this step well will commence the first step of the action research process thus making the process iterative.

Once the teachers are already done with these simple steps, they may then make an action research report following the format specified by DO 16, s. 2017 and share their findings to venues which will allow them to learn from each other’s best practices in the classroom.

These points are just what the Department of Education expects us to undertake. One does not need hifalutin strategies, innovations, and interventions because what is more important is that the said strategies are effective in solving the gap in the classroom. With the bulk of knowledge available to the teacher researchers in research databases, one could easily get awry. Thus, teacher-researchers should always go back to the issuances to guide them in the conduct of their classroom-based action research. Most importantly, they should always remember the essence of conducting action research – to improve the teaching learning process.

Gretchen V. Catane
Education Program Specialist II