In the last post, we began a discussion on action research. This post will conclude our look at action research. In this post, we will look at the following concepts
- Steps in action research
- Pros and Cons of action research
Steps in Action Research
How to approach action research is highly variable. Often action research will include research questions, the gathering of data, data analysis, and the development of an action plan
Identify the Research Question(s)
Action research is about answering questions. These questions can be used in many ways for example.
- To ask about information needed to make decisions
- To ask questions about how well something is doing
- To ask questions about what people think or feel
The types of questions are endless. For further information on asking questions in research please click here.
All standard forms of methodology are appropriate for action research. Survey, correlational, experimental, and more can all be used. With action research, the approach is often simplified because it is not the rigor but results that are important.
However, there are several forms of data collection that are extremely popular in action research. Observation, interviewing, and document analysis are some of the most common forms of data collection in action research.
The goal is always to try and triangulate whatever information is being collected. The type of collection method depends on what the research question is.
Data analysis includes the same methods as other forms of research. The difference being that action research is much less complex in the approaches taken to analyze data. The primary goal is to create an accurate picture of whatever is under investigation.
Development of Action Plan
This final step depends on the original purpose of the study. If the purpose of the action research was to gather data to make a decision. The actual decisions that are made will be represented in an action plan. The action plan is a document that specifies the changes that will take place based on the findings of the study.
If the purpose of the action research was to assess how well something is working or to see which method is best or some other question, a plan may not be the final result. For example, if a teacher wants to see if lecture or discussion is better for the academic progress of students the results would indicate which is most appropriate. The teacher may not need to develop a plan for this but just be sure to include more or less lecture/discussion in their teaching.
Pros and Cons of Action Research
Action Research can be done by any teacher. The simplicity of action research allows anyone to do it. Results do not need to meet the rigors of publication. The results of teacher led action research is improved classroom teaching
Action research improves educational practices. With data, schools can make plans to improve performance. Otherwise, schools are left to guess what to do. Problems are identified systematically at the school and even classroom level.
There is always a lack of validity with action research. The results only apply to the local context and generalization is often difficult. The sample size is often small with the population and sample being the same.
Action research is for strengthening classroom practice. The goal is not necessarily to write and publish but rather to empower local decision making and assist stakeholders directly.
Having said this, action research is an accepted form of research worthy of publication if it is conducted in a systematic fashion. The results may not generalize but they still can provide insights for other practitioners in the field.