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What is action research?

Action research is defined as any systematic inquiry conducted by teachers, administrators, counselors, or others with a vested interest in the teaching and learning process or environment for the purpose of gathering information about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how their students learn (Mills, 2003).

According to Ferrance (2000), “action research specifically refers to a disciplined inquiry done by a teacher with the intent that the research will inform and change his or her practices in the future. This research is carried out within the context of the teacher’s environment---that is, with the students and at the school in which the teacher works---on questions that deal with educational matters at hand”.

Selected action research projects

What does a thesis involve?

A thesis is scholarly research intended to advance knowledge within the academic discipline. Thesis research is conducted under the supervision of a thesis director and in consultation with a thesis committee composed of members of the graduate faculty.

Selected thesis titles

  • Bengtson, K. (2012). Direct inference instruction: The effects on fourth grade students' reading comprehension and motivation.
  • McCallister, I. (2010). Relationship between fluency and comprehension for middle school students.
  • Lambert, S. (2007). The effect of comic books on students’ reading attitudes.
  • Truesdale, T. A. (2005). Teachers’ perceptions and attitudes regarding curriculum mapping.
  • Fox, J.J. (2000). Teachers’ perceptions of the influence of standardized tests on curricular and instructional practices.
  • Quick, J.J. (2000). The effect of cross-age tutoring on reading attitude.

NOTE: These titles are available through Booth Library at Eastern Illinois University.

Action Research Projects

Marsolf, S. (Spring, 2009). The impact of small group interactive read-alouds on large group story time participation.

Three pre-K students participated in this study, which investigated whether inclusion in regular small group story times would correspond to increased or improved interactions with books during whole class stories. Prior to the study, baseline data were collected to document student skills in multiple developmental areas, their knowledge of print concepts and their levels of participation in a whole class read-aloud. The three students met with the teacher-researcher 2-3 times per week to listen to and participate in the reading of stories. Following twelve small group sessions, students were post-tested using the same instruments. All students demonstrated gains on each of the three assessments, following the six week study.

Shore, K.D. (Spring, 2009). Will a multi-sensory structured language approach improve a struggling reader’s reading, spelling and writing? A case study.

This action research case study was conducted to determine if the Orton-Gillingham based multi-sensory language approach, Sounds In Syllables by Sandra Dillon, would improve a third grade struggling reader’s ability to connect written English to spoken English through the simultaneous use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses. The National Reading Panel Report (2000) found that using systematic and explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, manipulating phonemes in spoken syllables and words, was the most successful in improving phonemic awareness, reading and spelling in children who had reading difficulties. This case study revealed that the intervention did improve the student’s reading and spelling abilities, but did not completely remediate the student’s difficulties in sound-symbol association, spelling patterns and vowel confusion.

Maske, S. (Fall, 2008). Effect of visual aids on the independent functioning of children with autism.

Visual supports for two young children aged 3 and 5 with autism were evaluated. The visual supports were used to assist the children in transitioning independently throughout their school environment. The effectiveness of implementing visual supports was assessed using a single subject reversal design (ABAB). The data revealed a slight decrease in the number of verbal, physical, and proximity prompts needed to transition both boys from place to place in their self-contained cross categorical special education classroom in the Midwest.

Stephens, D.L. (Fall 2008). Effect of explicit reading strategies on reading comprehension.

Middle school students, especially those reading several years below grade level, need specific strategies they can use to create meaning from their reading. This action research project asked if explicit reading strategy instruction on three skills would affect reading comprehension in seventh graders. Explicit lessons in understanding and applying word meanings, determining main ideas and summarizing, and making inferences and predictions were explained, modeled by the researcher, reinforced in small group work, and applied independently to the students’ reading. After three weeks of strategy instruction and a week of reinforcement and testing, this researcher determined that repeated explicit instruction of specific strategies benefited struggling readers. Further instruction and follow-up testing need to continue for the effects to become permanent.