Karen Elinich @ Pepperdine University

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Action Research Project Portfolio




Action Research Plan



The purpose of my action research is: to develop a new model for the national museum education community that shares an interest in the presentation and use of primary sources in K-12 classrooms; and to determine if primary source materials are made more useful when practicing teachers participate in their online presentation.


The National K-12 Science Education Standards call for students to learn about the nature of science, yet few teachers have developed their own personal understanding of the scientific practice. Primary source documents from the history of science offer evidence of what it means to be a scientist, yet few collections of primary sources are accessible to teachers. The Franklin Institute can help teachers resolve this conflict.

The Institute's unique collection of primary source documents from the history of science and technology is not accessible to teachers or the general public. By enabling online access to these artifacts for educational use, the Institute can help teachers develop their capacity to meet the challenges of the National Science Education Standards.

In and of itself, the online presentation of primary sources will help teachers meet the challenge of understanding the nature of science. Beyond that, however, lies an investigation of impact.


Are primary sources made more useful when practicing teachers participate directly in the development of the online presentation?

My research will consider the impact and effect of having teachers join the educational technology team as the Museum develops its online presentation of primary sources.


As an active member of the national museum education community of practice, I would identify myself as a full participant, perhaps even as an old-timer since I have been working with primary sources for K-12 education online since 1997. Therefore, I feel that my action research will help me to advance the community’s knowledge. As I reflect upon my role within the Community, I realize that I will also be using my research project to help the new-comers advance their own practice. In this case, the new-comers are my staff members, the adjunct teachers, and the national community of professionals who are new to this endeavor.

PLAN for Cycle One

For Cycle 1, my research question is:

After I learn more about how K-12 teachers currently use primary source documents in their science classroom practice, what new strategies can I propose for making better use of our documents?

I will begin to answer my question by investigating the range of existing online presentations of primary source documents from the history of science and technology. I will undertake a survey of science museum websites and determine the existing models. I will consult with museum educators to identify teachers who currently use primary sources in order to gather anecdotal evidence.

After completing my survey, I will propose at least two strategies (depending on the outcome of my investigation) for how we can better use our documents to support K-12 education. With these strategies in mind, I will assemble a team of practicing K-12 science educators who will work as adjunct members of my Educational Technology Programs team.  


During Cycle 1, my artifacts will include: a detailed survey of existing museum use of primary sources for education; reports of anecdotal evidence of how teachers currently use primary sources; and at least two new strategies for how to use primary sources with K-12 educators.


Cycle 1 should provide me with a wide range of new ideas which will enable me to generate new ideas for our own work with teachers. Therefore, I will measure success in Cycle 1 by whether or not I have effectively envisioned at least two new strategies for how to present primary sources online.


For Cycle Two I will investigate this research question:

If I provide a structured workshop experience with primary sources, how will teachers decide to use them for K-12 classroom learning?

I will use a designed curriculum for the workshop. The participating teachers will be guided through an exploration of ways to use primary sources in K-12 classroom learning.


For Cycle Three, I plan to bring together the teachers from both Cycle One and Cycle Two and have them work again with primary sources. I will compare and contrast their approaches. My focus will be a comparative analysis of the teachers who participated in the workshop versus those (Leigh, Gail, and Anne) who did not.