Action research is a topic that is spoken of a great deal in education and even other fields. However, this term is often used without people knowing exactly what action research is. Therefore, in this post, we will look at the following about action research.
- What action research is.
- Types of action research
- Levels of participation in action research
Defining Action Research
Action research is research performed for the purpose of solving local problems or obtaining local information to make local decisions. This is important. According to this definition, action research does at least two things
- Solves a local problem through research
- Provides local data through research to make a local decision
In addition, two unique characteristics of action research is a local of generalizability or external validity, and lack of use of rigorous research approaches.
Action researchers are only concern with dealing with local problems in the local context. Therefore it is often difficult to try to apply the local approaches broadly. For example, the sample and the population in action research are often the same. This rarely happens in larger research projects. This means that excellent action research needs to be replicated in several contexts before it is generalizable.
Action research follows any of the most common research methodologies but not at the same level of mastery. Action researchers are normally practitioners in their respective field and not necessarily thoroughly trained scholar-researchers. The purpose of this research is to solve a local problem and not develop dense theories defendable theories.
Action Research Types
There are at least two types of action research. They are practical action research and participatory action research.
Practical action research involves dealing with a local problem by providing solutions to improve short-term performance and or provide information for making decisions. One result of this type of action research is an action plan which is plan that is developed based on research for the purpose of change
Participatory action research is the same as practical action research in that it deals with local problems and provides solutions or data. The main difference between these two forms of action research is philosophical. Participatory action research focuses on empowering individuals and bringing social change through research.
Participatory action research is about the participation of as many stakeholders as possible in the research process. This is one reason why participatory action research is referred to as collaborative research
Levels of Participation
Some believe that there are nine levels of participation in action research. Rarely, does one individual participate in all nine levels in a particular project. The table below provides the nine levels, with a description of what happens at that level, as well as who commonly participates at that level. Please keep in mind that this is not the steps of an action research project but a map of how people participate.
|9||Initiates a study||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|8||Helps with developing research problems||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|7||Designing the project||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|6||Interpretation of results||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|5||Review results||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|4||Data collection||Administrators, teachers, parents|
|3||Receive findings||Administrators, teachers, parents, students|
|2||Know purpose of study||Administrators, teachers, parents, students|
|1||Provide information for the study||Administrators, teachers, parents, students|
From the table, it shows that adults can participate at all levels in action research. Students normally do not participate beyond level 3 with exceptions being as they grow older such as high school and university students.
Action research is about change. Looking at a local issue and developing local solutions and or information for developing a local plan of action is the focus of action research. For this reason, action research skills are an important tool for people in the field.