March 2014
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Narentuya Ao, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Developing children’s reading literacy is advocated internationally. However, there is not much instructional guidance in EFL reading literacy instruction for elementary EFL teachers to follow. Chinese university researchers have recently attempted to resolve this problem by undertaking school-university collaborative action research, where elementary EFL teachers actively reflect on their reading instruction and carry out plans and solutions accordingly to deal with problems they identify through scrutiny in teaching, with systematic and scientific research procedures, assisted by university researchers tutoring their research. It turns out to be fruitful, with school teachers developing a set of scientific methods in reading instruction, which greatly promotes students’ reading literacy development in turn. This article introduces how the collaborative action research is conducted.


School teachers are recommended by local educational sectors and engage in the research voluntarily. They are usually expert teachers or potential expert teachers from different regions of a city who are willing to change and enthusiastic about education. They come with questions about reading instruction and conduct classroom research in their own reading classes. The university researchers usually come from a research group including professors and graduate students whose research interests involve EFL reading instruction and teacher education. They work as research tutors, providing school teachers research support. Officers in local educational sectors work as coordinators. A common collaborative action research group consists of 30–40 school teachers, 10–15 university researchers, and several officers in local educational sectors.


The research usually lasts for four semesters (2 years). In the first semester, university researchers help school teachers learn about action research and the related methodology with lectures, group discussion, and one-to-one mentoring. School teachers then reflect on their reading instruction and identify problem or questions, conduct preliminary diagnoses, collect data, and do action planning. In this process, university researchers give lectures and tutoring on reading literacy assessment methods, data collection methods, and provide help in action planning. In the second semester, school teachers implement their actions, reflect on them with systematic data collection and do necessary revising to the actions. In the third semester, school teachers proceed with their revised actions with frequent reflections and continued data collection. In these two semesters, university researchers give lectures on ways of developing EFL reading literacy, including story book instruction, sustained silent reading, and reading circle, and give feedback on school teachers’ actions. In the last semester, school teachers analyze the data collected and write action research reports, with university researchers providing detailed suggestions.

Resources for Further Reading

Qiang, W., & Hong, Z. (Eds.). (2012). Exploration in school-university collaborative action research: Research in action and developing research. Shanghai, China: Shanghai Education Press.

Narentuya Ao is a PhD student at the Center for Foreign Language Education and Teacher Education, Beijing Normal University. She is also a student researcher at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include ESL/EFL literacy education, action research, and teacher education.

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