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Method

We chose action research as the qualitative design for this investigation because we both

applied the strategies of reciprocal teaching to study our own students within our own ensemble

rehearsals. Mertler (2006) defines action research “as any systematic inquiry conducted by

teachers … with a vested interest in the teaching and learning process” (p. 2). Mills (2003) adds

that action research is the appropriate design when teachers wish to investigate how they teach

and how their students learn. It is usually done by teachers for themselves. Teachers conduct

research in their own classrooms, in this case, their own ensemble rehearsals, to better understand

their students and to serve the students’ learning needs more effectively.

Always with the purpose of initiating change, action research has a long history, often

associated with the work of Kurt Lewin (1946) who described action research as a collaborative

process—teachers with their students (Stringer, 2004, 2007). Bogden and Biklen (2006) speak of

action research as “the systematic collection of information that is designed to bring about social

change” (p. 223). Reason and Bradbury (2001) extend the definition by writing that action

research is “a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in

the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes.” This resonates well with the objectives of reciprocal

teaching.

The Setting

The senior high school in this study is a comprehensive urban high school situated in

what is called the heartland of the U.S. Midwest. It is almost exactly centered between the east

and west coasts. One of seven public high schools in its district, it serves 1,750 students who

come primarily from lower-middle-income families. The parents of most students do manual

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