This action research project is a self-examination of my first-year teaching experience. This project begins by explicitly stating my teaching philosophy. That philosophy helps establish my goals as a teacher. Next, I examine many peer reviewed articles about teaching to help me better understand the state of knowledge and practice in the specific areas of teaching I wish to focus on improving in my first year of teaching. I then go on to state the specific questions I will be studying in this research project.

Those questions were 1) How do I use essential questions to prompt inquiry? 2) How do I engage students through classroom discourse? And 3) How effectively do I teach problem-solving? I used data collected from my own reflections, lesson plans and observations by my cooperating teacher and university supervisor to analyze my teaching in relation to the three principal research questions. After examining the data collected, I look for patterns and explain what my data reveals about each question.

I conclude that essential questions require careful planning to be effectively incorporated, that engaging students in discourse requires understanding of their background knowledge and that teaching problem-solving requires much more than modeling to be valuable. While these conclusions may be rather specific to myself, I do attempt to elucidate more general implications of my research that may apply to other teachers’ situations more generally.

Exit Requirement

Action Research

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)

Committee Chair

Kenneth Carano

Committee Member

Michael Jennings


secondary education, student engagment



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Educational Methods

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