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Transcript of Action Research
Step 1: Asking Questions
Step 2: Background Research
Once you've settled on a research topic, you'll need to examine relevant literature, and begin thinking about data collection.
Ask yourself what you've already observed, and what you still want to know about your research topic.
Knowing and understanding your participants is helpful when deciding what type of data you'll need to get, and how to do so.
Step 3: Constructing a Hypothesis
The third phase of action research is to design
an action plan for solving the problem. The plan includes activities for evaluating the success of improvement efforts.
Examples of Action Research Cases
Step 4: Test Your Hypothesis
Step 5: Drawing Conclusions
In this phase of the process, the researcher uses the evaluation activities in the action plan from step 3 to reflect on and evaluate the AR project.
During this time, data on the results are collected and analyzed. Based on evaluation findings, the action play may be changed, expanded, continued, or canceled.
Step 6: Report Your Results
The researcher has to determine who will receive information on his or her study, as well as what format to deliver it in. Sharing results is an important step to AR so that more positive changes can be implemented!
By Amanda Cadran and Julia Weaver
Objectives of this lesson plan
After participating in this lesson, you will be able to:
A. Describe a brief history of action research (AR)
B. Understand AR as a qualitative research method
C. Describe the characteristics of AR
D. Describe the goals of AR
E. Describe the process behind developing research questions
F. Describe several data gathering methods
G. Understand how to implement research results into practice
Your School = Your Laboratory
Action research as a research method is, according to van Manen (1990), a process by which "teachers bring about change in their own pedagogical practice" (p. 153).
In other words, it helps turn teachers into scholars by taking the environment they know best, and turning it into their own
laboratory. Unlike other forms of research, the practitioner IS the researcher!
There are even professional organizations devoted toward taking action research and turning it into educational policy, such as the Action Research Leadership Institute (formerly the Teacher Network Leadership Institute), which gives a voice to teacher-researchers (Rust and Meyers, 2007).
The first step to creating your own research laboratory is to ask questions. Here are some questions that can help you come up with a preliminary research plan:
1. What about your own teaching practice are you curious about understanding better?
2. Why do you want to know more about this?
3. Is is possible to get colleagues, students, parents, and other stakeholders involved?
Even though the process may be cyclical, rather than linear, the basic premise of the scientific method can be applied to help us understand how action research takes your classroom/office/workplace, and turns it into a place for research and new ideas.
Glickman, C. D., Gordon, S. P., & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (2012). The basic
guide to supervision and instructional leadership. Pearson.
What Makes Action Research Unique?
Image courtesy of Morehead Planetarium
The Scientific Method
Detached open-ended narrative
Participant open-ended observation
Tailored observation systems
History of Action Research
Benefits of Action Research
Let's take a look at some examples of action research that use qualitative methods:
We will use these case studies for our own thinking in a minute!
Types of Action Research
Developed in 1940s and '50s by Kurt Lewin & colleagues
Introduced as problem-solving cycle to improve organizations
"The term action research captured the notion of disciplined inquiry (research) in the context of focused efforts to improve the quality of an organization and its performance (action)." (Calhoun, 1993)
Individual teacher research
Collaborative action research
Schoolwide action research
Questions to be asked in the evaluation:
• What is the purpose of the evaluation?
• Who will evaluate?
• What questions need to be answered?
• What and how will data be gathered?
• How will the data be analyzed?
• How will the evaluation be reported?
This step of the Action Research process is where the researcher implements his or her plan. The researcher should also make observations of progress during this time. Types of observations could include:
The idea of action research as a way to enact social change goes back to the 1940s. Since that time, researchers have used the term to explain research methods aimed at emancipation of various groups.
The success of action research in terms of enacting these changes is debatable, however (Kinsler, 2010).
Question: What could be standing in the way of AR as a vehicle for change?
Calhoun, E. F. (1993). Action Research: Three Approaches. Educational Leadership, 51(2), 62-65.
Kinsler, K. (2010). The utility of educational action research for emancipatory change. Action Research, 8(2), 171-189.
Rust, F., & Meyers, E. (2006). The bright side: Teacher research in the context of educational reform and policy‐making. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 12(1), 69-86.
Van Manen, M. (1990). Beyond assumptions: Shifting the limits of action research. Theory into practice, 29(3), 152-157.
Van Sluys, K. (2010). Trying on and trying out: Participatory action research as a tool for literacy and identity work in middle grades classrooms. American journal of community psychology, 46(1-2), 139-151.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Remember that like other types of qualitative research, you can combine methodologies to achieve your
Example: Researcher Katie Van Sluys created a collaborative, ethnographic, participatory action research project for her work with diverse learners (2010).
Let's Learn More!
This is the second half of the video you watched prior to class today.
How to Get Started
One method to help you begin thinking of your action plan is called a logic model. It will
"help you think through what you need as inputs, what you will do (your action), and what you expect to happen (the outcomes)"
(Center for Collaborative Action Research, 2013).
There are different types of logical models: Theory-, outcome-, or activities-based. Let's take a closer look at what logic models may look like.
A Simple Logic Model
From the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Logic Model Development Guide
And Something a Little More Involved
An Outcomes-Driven Logic Model
From a project conducted through Amanda's school in 2012-2013