Sunday, June 14, 2020

Action Research

Action research can be done by focusing on pedagogy, assessment, curriculum, classroom environment, leadership practices, learners' behaviour, etc. (Identify an area of focus to improve, explore or develop; plan an action; implement, observe and collect data; and reflect on the results and the process. 

"In practice, action research begins with an Imperfectly understood felt concern and a desire to take action - a general idea that some kind of improvement or change is desirable." McTaggart (1994, p.316)

Action Research is a fancy way of saying let’s study what’s happening at our school and decide how to make it a better place. Emily Calhoun (1994) AR stems from a family of research methodologies which aim to pursue action and research outcomes simultaneously (Susman and Evered, 1978; Holter and Schwartz-Barcott, 1993; Reason and Bradbury, 2001; Coughlan and Coghlan, 2002; Coghlan and Brannick, 2010). As Jean McNiff (2013) notes, “I do not see action research as about problem- identification or problem-solving, but as about realizing human potential” (p. 35). The authors whose action research efforts appear in this section of the Handbook encounter a multitude of challenges, tensions, and issues but never cease to keep trying to realize the immense human potential unleashed through their individual and collective actions. (from: bOOK) Elliott’s claim that: “The fundamental aim of action research is to improve practice rather than to produce knowledge”

Action researchers “see the development of theory or understanding as a by-product of the improvement of real situations, rather than application as a by-product of advances in ‘pure’ theory.” (Carr and Kemmis, 1986, p. 28, cited also in Wikiversity Action Learning article). This is a means to generate ideas (theory) that are relevant locally – to the people who are involved in the research, and to the environment in which it has taken place. (Wikiversity,

The view of action research as contributing to the professional development of those directly involved is sometimes contrasted with the picture of educational research having the potential for contributing to the 'production of knowledge'. Carr and Kemmis (1986) view the latter as an inappropriate aim for action research which should be centrally concerned with `the development of practitioners' own practices' (p 202). Johnston and Proudford (1994) suggest this may produce a significant tension within a project, and imply that it may not be possible to meet both aims. Within this radiography curriculum development project it is argued that both these purposes for research were met to some degree, although the nature of the contribution to knowledge was necessarily tentative, given the group's task of developing, trialling and evaluating new assessment procedures within a timeframe of approximately one year.

Picture 1: Ary, D., Jacobs. L. C., & Sorensen, C. (2010). Introduction to Research in Education (8th ed). California: Wadsworth.

Picture 2: Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (1988). The action research planner (3rd ed.). Victoria, Australia: Deakin University Press.

Picture 3: Hendricks, C. (2017). Improving schools through action research: A reflective practice approach (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Picture 4: McKernan, J. (1996, p.31). Curriculum action research: A handbook of methods and resources for the reflective practitioner. London: Kogan Page.

Robin McTaggart (1994) Participatory Action Research: issues in theory and practice, Educational Action Research, 2:3, 313-337, DOI: 10.1080/0965079940020302

McNiff, J. (2013). Action research: Principles and practices (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Carr, W., & Kemmis, S. (1986). Becoming critical: Education, knowledge and action research. Falmer Press.