Action research in more detail. I regard action research as a methodology which is intended to have both action outcomes and research outcomes. I recognise, too, that in some action research the research component mostly takes the form of understanding on the part of those involved. The action is primary. In distinction, there are some forms of action research where research is the main emphasis and the action is almost a fringe benefit. I regard all of these as action research. This definition is capable of encompassing a variety of research and intervention methods.
It is broad enough to include, as examples, the critical action research approach of Carr and Kemmis , the soft systems methodology of Checkland , and perhaps even the evaluation of Guba and Lincoln , to name just a few. The responsiveness of action research allows it to be used to develop hypotheses from the data, "on the run" as it were.
It can therefore also be used as a research tool for investigative or pilot research, and generally for diagnosis or evaluation. Most writers on the topic state or assume that action research is cyclic, or at least spiral in structure. To put this differently, certain more-or-less similar steps tend to recur, in more-or-less similar order, at different phases of an action research study.
At the same time so the action researcher hopes progress is made towards appropriate action and research outcomes. A commonly known cycle is that of the influential model of Kemmis and McTaggart mentioned earlier -- plan, act, observe, reflect; then, in the light of this, plan for the next cycle.
It is also generally held that action research is participative, though writers differ on how participative it is. My own preference is to use participative methods. On the other hand I don't see why action research must be limited to this. So, the extent of participation may vary. In some instances there may be a genuine partnership between researcher and others. The distinction between researcher and others may disappear. On other occasions the researcher may choose for whatever reason to maintain a separate role.
Participation may be limited to being involved as an informant. The participants, too, may choose something less than full partnership for themselves under some circumstances. Most action research is qualitative. Some is a mix of qualitative and quantitative. All else being equal, numbers do offer advantages. In field settings, though, one often has to make other sacrifices to be able to use them. Most importantly, sometimes numbers are not easily applied to some features of a study.
If these include features of particular interest or importance, the choice is between qualitative research or omitting important features. In addition, developing a suitable quantitative measure is often difficult and time-consuming. It may be more time-efficient to use qualitative data. As I mentioned before, it is also easier to be flexible and responsive to the situation if you are using qualitative methods.
In short, it is my view that action research more often than not exhibits certain features. It tends to be, in some sense of the terms, cyclic, participative, qualitative and reflective.
I see all of these features except the last as choices to be made by the researcher and the other participants. In my view, good action research and good research of any variety is research where, among other features, appropriate choices are made. Perhaps even critical reflection might be abandoned for sufficient reason. Whatever action research is, I suspect it is mostly or always emergent and responsive. In fact, I think that the choices made about its cyclic and qualitative nature are mostly to be justified in terms of the responsiveness which they allow.
This may be true of decisions about participation too. In many field settings it is not possible to use more traditional quasi-experimental research methods. If you do alter them in midstream you may have to abandon the data collected up to that point.
This is because you have probably altered the odds under the null hypothesis. But to achieve both action and research outcomes requires responsiveness -- to the situation, and the people, and the growing understanding on the part of those involved.
Using a cyclic process in most circumstances enhances responsiveness. It makes sense to design the later stages of an action research activity in such a way that you capitalise on the understanding developed in the early stages.
It is the cyclic nature of action research which allows responsiveness. It is often difficult to know just where a field intervention will end. Precise research questions at the beginning of a project may mislead researcher and clients. Imprecise questions and methods can be expected to yield imprecise answers initially. But if those imprecise answers can help to refine questions and methods, then each cycle can be a step in the direction of better action and research.
In other words, there are times when the initial use of fuzzy methods to answer fuzzy questions is the only appropriate choice. Action research provides enough flexibility to allow fuzzy beginnings while progressing towards appropriate endings. To my mind, a cyclic process is important.
It gives more chances to learn from experience provided that there is real reflection on the process and on the outcomes, intended and unintended. Qualitative information is less constraining of the process.
Participation is a somewhat different issue, more to do with action than research. Action outcomes can usually be achieved only with some commitment from those most affected. One of the most important ways of securing that commitment is through involving those affected. There may well be other reasons, too. The first step then is to examine the idea carefully in the light of the means available.
Frequently more fact-finding about the situation is required. If this first period of planning is successful, two items emerge: Usually this planning has also somewhat modified the original idea.
The approach, as presented, does take a fairly sequential form — and it is open to literal interpretation. It can also be argued that model itself places insufficient emphasis on analysis at key points. Action research did suffer a decline in favour during the s because of its association with radical political activism Stringer There were, and are, questions concerning its rigour, and the training of those undertaking it.
However, as Bogdan and Biklen Once we have satisfied ourselves that the collection of information is systematic, and that any interpretations made have a proper regard for satisfying truth claims, then much of the critique aimed at action research disappears. Lewin and Grabbe there was a tension between providing a rational basis for change through research, and the recognition that individuals are constrained in their ability to change by their cultural and social perceptions, and the systems of which they are a part.
Subsequently, action research has gained a significant foothold both within the realm of community-based, and participatory action research; and as a form of practice oriented to the improvement of educative encounters e. Carr and Kemmis A fundamental premise of community-based action research is that it commences with an interest in the problems of a group, a community, or an organization.
Its purpose is to assist people in extending their understanding of their situation and thus resolving problems that confront them…. Community-based action research is always enacted through an explicit set of social values. In modern, democratic social contexts, it is seen as a process of inquiry that has the following characteristics:. Look -building a picture and gathering information. When evaluating we define and describe the problem to be investigated and the context in which it is set.
We also describe what all the participants educators, group members, managers etc. Think — interpreting and explaining.
When evaluating we analyse and interpret the situation. We reflect on what participants have been doing. We look at areas of success and any deficiencies, issues or problems. Act — resolving issues and problems. In evaluation we judge the worth, effectiveness, appropriateness, and outcomes of those activities. We act to formulate solutions to any problems. The use of action research to deepen and develop classroom practice has grown into a strong tradition of practice one of the first examples being the work of Stephen Corey in For some there is an insistence that action research must be collaborative and entail groupwork.
Action research is a form of collective self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own social or educational practices, as well as their understanding of those practices and the situations in which the practices are carried out… The approach is only action research when it is collaborative, though it is important to realise that action research of the group is achieved through the critically examined action of individual group members.
Kemmis and McTaggart Just why it must be collective is open to some question and debate Webb , but there is an important point here concerning the commitments and orientations of those involved in action research. It is a mistake, according to McTaggart It is his argument that Lewin has been misunderstood or, rather, misused. When set in historical context, while Lewin does talk about action research as a method, he is stressing a contrast between this form of interpretative practice and more traditional empirical-analytic research.
The notion of a spiral may be a useful teaching device — but it is all too easily to slip into using it as the template for practice McTaggart This select, annotated, bibliography has been designed to give a flavour of the possibilities of action research and includes some useful guides to practice.
Partnership for Social Justice in Education, London: Presents a collection of stories from action research projects in schools and a university. The book begins with theme chapters discussing action research, social justice and partnerships in research. The case study chapters cover topics such as: Education, knowledge and action research , Lewes: Chapters on teachers, researchers and curriculum; the natural scientific view of educational theory and practice; the interpretative view of educational theory and practice; theory and practice — redefining the problem; a critical approach to theory and practice; towards a critical educational science; action research as critical education science; educational research, educational reform and the role of the profession.
Book draws on a wide range of sources to develop an understanding of action research. A story about action research , London: Examines three action research studies undertaken by a teacher and how they related to work in school — how she did the research, the problems she experienced, her feelings, the impact on her feelings and ideas, and some of the outcomes.
Collection of five pieces from the Classroom Action Research Network. An Action Research Approach , London: Argues that educational knowledge is created by individual teachers as they attempt to express their own values in their professional lives. Sets out familiar action research model: Includes advice on how working in this way can aid the professional development of action researcher and practitioner.
Guide to action research that outlines the action research process, provides a project planner, and presents examples to show how action research can yield improvements in six different settings, including a hospital, a university and a literacy education program.
With Roslin Brennan Kemmis, I presented a keynote address, “Making and writing the history of the future together: Exploratory action in participatory action research” at the Congreso Internacional de Educación (Congreso V Nacional y III Internacional), Córdoba, Argentine Republic, October 9 – 11,
Action Research Spiral. Kemmis and McTaggart () do acknowledge that individual stages specified in Action Research Spiral model may overlap, and initial plan developed for the research may become obselete in short duration of time due to a range of factors.
Figure Carr and Kemmis’s Action Research Model () The diagram shows the four steps in action; the movement from one critical phase to another, and the way in which progress may be made through the system.5/5(11). Subsequently, action research has gained a significant foothold both within the realm of community-based, and participatory action research; and as a form of practice oriented to the improvement of educative encounters (e.g. Carr and Kemmis ).
Action research – which is also known as Participatory Action Research (PAR), community-based study, co-operative enquiry, action science and action learning – is an approach commonly used for improving conditions. 2– 10 PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH Communicative Action and the Public Sphere Stephen Kemmis and Robin McTaggart P articipatory action research has an .