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Action research

Three Purposes for Action Research

❶Action researchers will need to decide what to write and to whom to write.

The Action Research Process

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In this way, the individual teachers conducting action research are making continuous progress in developing their strengths as reflective practitioners.

Increasingly, schools are focusing on strengthening themselves and their programs through the development of common focuses and a strong sense of esprit de corps.

Often an entire faculty will share a commitment to student development, yet the group finds itself unable to adopt a single common focus for action research.

This should not be viewed as indicative of a problem. Schools whose faculties cannot agree on a single research focus can still use action research as a tool to help transform themselves into a learning organization. They accomplish this in the same manner as do the physicians at the medical center. It is common practice in a quality medical center for physicians to engage in independent, even idiosyncratic, research agendas.

However, it is also common for medical researchers to share the findings obtained from their research with colleagues even those engaged in other specialties.

If ever there were a time and a strategy that were right for each other, the time is now and the strategy is action research! This is true for a host of reasons, with none more important than the need to accomplish the following: Enhance the motivation and efficacy of a weary faculty.

Meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Teaching in North America has evolved in a manner that makes it more like blue-collar work than a professional undertaking. Although blue-collar workers are expected to do their jobs with vigilance and vigor, it is also assumed that their tasks will be routine, straightforward, and, therefore, easily handled by an isolated worker with only the occasional support of a supervisor.

Professional work, on the other hand, is expected to be complex and nonroutine, and will generally require collaboration among practitioners to produce satisfactory results. With the exploding knowledge base on teaching and learning and the heightened demands on teachers to help all children achieve mastery of meaningful objectives, the inadequacy of the blue-collar model for teaching is becoming much clearer.

When the teachers in a school begin conducting action research, their workplace begins to take on more of the flavor of the workplaces of other professionals. The wisdom that informs practice starts coming from those doing the work, not from supervisors who oftentimes are less in touch with and less sensitive to the issues of teaching and learning than the teachers doing the work.

Furthermore, when teachers begin engaging their colleagues in discussions of classroom issues, the multiple perspectives that emerge and thus frame the dialogue tend to produce wiser professional decisions. The work of teaching has always been difficult. But now it isn't just the demands of the classroom that are wearing teachers down. Students increasingly bring more problems into the classroom; parental and societal expectations keep increasing; and financial cutbacks make it clear that today's teachers are being asked to do more with less.

Worse still, the respect that society had traditionally placed upon public school teachers is eroding, as teacher bashing and attacks on the very value of a public education are becoming a regular part of the political landscape.

Consequently, teacher burnout has become the plague of the modern schoolhouse. However, without credible evidence that the work of teaching is making a difference, it is hard to imagine the best and brightest sticking with such a difficult and poorly compensated line of work.

Fortunately, evidence has shown that teachers who elect to integrate the use of data into their work start exhibiting the compulsive behavior of fitness enthusiasts who regularly weigh themselves, check their heart rate, and graph data on their improving physical development. For both teachers and athletes, the continuous presence of compelling data that their hard work is paying off becomes, in itself, a vitally energizing force. In a homogeneous society in which all students come to school looking alike, it might be wise to seek the one right answer to questions of pedagogy.

It is now imperative that classroom teachers have strong content background in each of the subjects they teach, be familiar with the range of student differences in their classrooms, and be capable of diagnosing and prescribing appropriate instructional modifications based upon a knowledge of each child's uniqueness. Crafting solutions to these dynamic and ever changing classroom issues can be an exciting undertaking, especially when one acknowledges that newer and better answers are evolving all the time.

Nevertheless, great personal satisfaction comes from playing a role in creating successful solutions to continually changing puzzles. Conversely, if teachers are expected to robotically implement outdated approaches, especially when countless new challenges are arriving at their door, the frustration can become unbearable. In most jurisdictions standards-driven accountability systems have become the norm.

Although they differ somewhat from state to state and province to province, fundamentally these standards-based systems have certain things in common. Specifically, most education departments and ministries have declared that they expect the standards to be rigorous and meaningful, and that they expect all students to meet the standards at the mastery level. The stakes in the standards movement are high.

Students face consequences regarding promotion and graduation. Teachers and schools face ridicule and loss of funding if they fail to meet community expectations. Of course, none of that would be problematic if we as a society knew with certainty how to achieve universal student success. However, the reality is that no large system anywhere in the world has ever been successful in getting every student to master a set of meaningful objectives. If we accept the truth of that statement, then we need to acknowledge the fact that achieving the goal of universal student mastery will not be easy.

That said, most people will agree it is a most noble endeavor in which to invest energy and a worthy goal for any faculty to pursue. I think of action research is a process of deep inquiry into one's practices in service of moving towards an envisioned future, aligned with values. Action research, can be seen as a systematic, reflective study of one's actions, and the effects of these actions, in a workplace or organizational context.

As such, it involves deep inquiry into one's professional practice. However it is also a collaborative process as it is done WITH people in a social context and understanding the change means probing multiple understanding of complex social systems. And finally as research it implies a commitment to data sharing. We use collaborative action research to highlight the different ways in which action research is a social process.

Action researchers examine their interactions and relationships in social setting seeking opportunities for improvement. As designers and stakeholders, they work with their colleagues to propose new courses of action that help their community improve work practices. As researchers, they seek evidence from multiple sources to help them analyze reactions to the action taken. They recognize their own view as subjective, and seek to develop their understanding of the events from multiple perspectives.

The action researcher uses data collected from interactions with others to characterize the forces in ways that can be shared with other practitioners.

This leads to a reflective phase in which the action researchers formulates new plans for action during the next cycle. Over time, action researchers develop a deep understanding of the ways in which a variety of social and environmental forces interact to create complex patterns. This diagram illustrates the process of action research through time. The subject s of action research are the actions taken, the resulting change, and the transformation thinking, acting and feeling by the persons enacting the change.

While the design of action research may originate with an individual, the process of change is always social. Over time, the action researcher often extends the arena of change to a widening group of stakeholders. The goal is a deeper understanding of the factors of change which result in positive personal and professional change. This form of research then is an iterative, cyclical process of reflecting on practice, taking an action, reflecting, and taking further action.

Therefore, the research takes shape while it is being performed. Greater understanding from each cycle points the way to improved practice Riel and Rowell, Action researchers differ in the weight that they put on different factors or dimensions of action research for more discussion and examples, see Rowell, Riel and Polush, Each action researcher evolves his or her approach to doing action research as the conditions and support structures are unique.

To understand how action research varies, I describe two points, A, and B, along six dimensions. When someone engages in action research, they or others make choices that place them at some point along the continuum for each dimension. Some will argue that side A, or B, or a perfect balance between them, is ideal, or even necessary, to call the process action research.

Most will have very convincing arguments for why all action research should be done in the way they advocate. The dialogue is healthy and helps us each understand the value of the positions we take. By understanding the boundaries we develop a deeper understanding of the process. If you click on the bar graphic, you can make your own choices and compare them with others.

Theory from Practice - Using practices to generate theories beginning with values, needs and knowledge of human interaction B. Theory into Practice - Using social science findings to inform patterns of change. Inside Expertise - Action researchers are empowered to locate problems of practice and develop methods to improve them B. Outside Expertise - Action researchers form partnerships with outside experts to guide the process. Individual Process - Action researchers select their own questions to investigate B.

Group Process - A group of action researchers select a common question or set of questions to investigate. Problem-Based Approach - Action Researchers locate problems and engage in progressive problem solving in cycles B. Inquiry-Based Approach - Action Researchers explore effective practices to better understand and perfect them through multiple cycles.

Identity Transformation - The primary outcome of action research is change to the way the action researcher thinks, acts and feels B. Social Change -The primary outcomes of action research is the shift in the social context where people collectively change how they act, think and feel.

Shared Practices - Action Researchers share what they have learned informally at their site B. Shared Knowledge- Action Researchers share their findings in more formal context s. Authors and professors as well as practitioners often have very strong views about what are the essential and non essential characteristics of action research.

Movement to one or the other side of each continuum represents shifts in the action research approach. I like to think of action research as a disposition of mind as well as a research approach.

It is a commitment to cycles of collective inquiry with shared reflections on the outcomes leading to new ideas. Action research forms a path towards a professional "adaptive" expertise.

Hatona and Ingaki set out a contrast between efficiency expertise and adaptive expertise. I have added innovative expertise and created this chart.

The yellow path can also be applied to the activist who is singled minded without researching the outcomes and consequences of action, The blue panel might be the path of researchers who do not apply their theories to change contexts.

The green combines inquiry and activism to engage in action research. When you balance these two very different learning approaches you follow the green path of action research leading to adaptive expertise and the acquisition of a deeper understanding of yourself and others. Action research involves a systematic process of examining the evidence.

The results of this type of research are practical, relevant, and can inform theory. Action research is different than other forms of research as there is less concern for universality of findings, and more value is placed on the relevance of the findings to the researcher and the local collaborators.

Critical reflection is at the heart of action research and when this reflection is based on careful examination of evidence from multiple perspectives, it can provide an effective strategy for improving the organization's ways of working and the whole organizational climate. It can be the process through which an organization learns. We conceptualize action research as having three outcomes—on the personal, organizational and scholarly levels. Action research is often located in schools and done by teachers, but it can also be carried out in museums, medical organizations, corporations, churches and clubs—any setting where people are engaged in collective, goal directed activity.

Equally important, not all teacher research is action research. Teachers can do ethnographic, evaluative or experimental research that is NOT action research. At the organizational level, action research is about understanding the system of interactions that define a social context. Kurt Lewin proposed action research as a method of understanding social systems or organizational learning. He claimed that the best way to test understanding was to try to effect change.

Action research goes beyond self-study because actions, outcomes, goals and assumptions are located in complex social systems. The action researcher begins with a theory of action focused on the intentional introduction of change into a social system with assumptions about the outcomes. This theory testing requires a careful attention to data, and skill in interpretation and analysis. Activity theory, social network theory, system theories, and tools of evaluation such as surveys, interviews and focus groups can help the action researcher acquire a deep understanding of change in social contexts within organizations.

At the scholarly level, the action researcher produces validated findings and assumes a responsibility to share these findings with those in their setting and with the larger research community. Many people acquire expertise in their workplace, but researchers value the process of building knowledge through ongoing dialogue about the nature of their findings. Engaging in this dialogue, through writing or presenting at conferences, is part of the process of action research.

Action Research and Learning Circles. Barry explained that living educational theory LET "[It is] a critical and transformational approach to action research. It confronts the researcher to challenge the status quo of their educational practice and to answer the question, 'How can I improve that I'm doing? The mission of the LET action researcher is to overcome workplace norms and self-behavior which contradict the researcher's values and beliefs.

The vision of the LET researcher is to make an original contribution to knowledge through generating an educational theory proven to improve the learning of people within a social learning space. The standard of judgment for theory validity is evidence of workplace reform, transformational growth of the researcher, and improved learning by the people researcher claimed to have influenced French and Cecil Bell define organization development OD at one point as "organization improvement through action research".

Concerned with social change and, more particularly, with effective, permanent social change, Lewin believed that the motivation to change was strongly related to action: If people are active in decisions affecting them, they are more likely to adopt new ways.

Lewin's description of the process of change involves three steps: Figure 1 summarizes the steps and processes involved in planned change through action research. Action research is depicted as a cyclical process of change. Major adjustments and reevaluations would return the OD project to the first or planning stage for basic changes in the program. The action-research model shown in Figure 1 closely follows Lewin's repetitive cycle of planning, action, and measuring results.

It also illustrates other aspects of Lewin's general model of change. As indicated in the diagram, the planning stage is a period of unfreezing, or problem awareness.

There is inevitable overlap between the stages, since the boundaries are not clear-cut and cannot be in a continuous process. The results stage is a period of refreezing, in which new behaviors are tried out on the job and, if successful and reinforcing, become a part of the system's repertoire of problem-solving behavior. Action research is problem centered, client centered, and action oriented.

It involves the client system in a diagnostic, active-learning, problem-finding and problem-solving process. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the academic journal titled Action Research, see Action Research journal. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.


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Video: Action Research in Education: Methods & Examples Action research is often used in the field of education. The following lesson provides two examples of action research in the field of education, methods of conducting action research and a quiz to assess your understanding of the topic.

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Accordingly, action research is accepted as a method to test hypotheses in a real world environment. Interpretive action research, also known as ‘contemporary action research’ perceives business reality as socially constructed and focuses on specifications of local and .

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Educational action research can be engaged in by a single teacher, by a group of colleagues who share an interest in a common problem, or by the entire faculty of a school. Whatever the scenario, action research always involves the same seven-step process. Action research is known by many other names, including participatory research, collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research, action learning, and contextural action research, but all are variations on a .

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• Action research is a method used for improving practice. It involves action, evaluation, It involves action, evaluation, and critical reflection and – based on the evidence gathered – changes in practice. Beginner's guide to action research, a brief overview of action research as an emergent, responsive, action-oriented, participative and critically reflective research methodology.