Is independent study a worthwhile activity for students? Does it have a positive impact on student learning and performance? As you can see from the example above, action research methodology is useful in real life situations. It enables the researcher to find what works in his or her own situation and helps to determine ways to improve techniques. Example - Educational Setting Research Topic: The independent study project used in this research required the students to examine an ancient civilization that was a contemporary of ancient Egypt.
The civilizations included the Inca, Maya, Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Chinese, and Indus Valley people, and involved investigating the assigned civilization's religion, culture, agriculture, and major contributions. Student research on the other ancient civilizations was performed in the school library during class time under the supervision of both the English and History teachers.
The students were assessed on cooperative work, an oral presentation, art work, and a written report. Data for the action research project was collected on cooperative working skills, presentation performance, Egypt test results, and written report grades.
The method for collecting data on cooperative work and the presentations was observation and the completion of rubrics. Observation of cooperative work download rubric here was conducted in the library while students were conducting their research. Rubrics for presentation assessment download oral rubric were completed while observing a student's oral report. 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. Vincent the research project was highly successful, with several viable local developments instituted. Lucia showed mixed outcomes, and Dominica was the least successful, the process curtailed by the government soon after the search conference took place.
There is always a risk that this kind of research will empower stakeholders, and change existing power relations, the threat of which is too much for some decision-makers, but if given the opportunity, there are many things that a collaborative group of citizens can accomplish that might not be possible otherwise.
In the past ten years or so, there has been a marked increase in the number of organizations that are making use of information technology and computer mediated communications.
This has led to a number of convergences between information systems and action research. In some cases, it has been a matter of managers of corporate networks employing action research techniques to facilitate large-scale changes to their information systems. In others, it has been a question of community-based action research projects making use of computer communications to broaden participation. The emergence of the Internet has led to an explosion of asynchronous and aspatial group communication in the form of e-mail and computer conferences, and recently, v-mail and video conferencing.
While there have been numerous attempts to use this new technology in assisting group learning, both within organizations and among groups in the community [this author has been involved with a dozen or more projects of this kind in the nonprofit sector in Canada alone], there is a dearth of published studies on the use of action research methods in such projects Lau and Hayward , in a recent review of the literature, found that most research on group support systems to date has been in short-term, experimental situations using quantitative methods..
There are a few examples, though, of longitudinal studies in naturalistic settings using qualitative methods; of those that did use action research, none studied the use and effects of communication systems in groups and organizations. We can now to turn to the case studies, both of which are situated in an area in need of more research - that of the use of information technology as a potentially powerful adjunct to action research processes.
Lau and Hayward used an action research approach in a study of their own to explore the structuration of Internet-based collaborative work groups. Over a two-year period, the researchers participated as facilitators in three action research cycles of problem-solving among approximately 15 instructors and project staff, and 25 health professionals from various regions striving to make a transition to a more community-based health program.
The aim was to explore how Internet-based communications would influence their evolution into a virtual collaborative workgroup. The first phase was taken up with defining expectations, providing the technology and developing the customized workgroup system. Feedback from participants noted that shorter and more spaced training sessions, with instructions more focused on specific projects would have been more helpful. The next phase saw the full deployment of the system, and the main lesson learned was that the steepness of the learning curve was severely underestimated, with frustrations only minimally satisfied by a great deal of technical support provided by telephone.
The final cycle saw the stabilization of the system and the emergence of the virtual groups. The researchers found that those who used the system interactively were more likely to establish projects that were collaborative in nature, and that the lack of high quality information on community healthcare online was a drawback.
The participants reported learning a great deal from the initiative. The interpretations of the study suggest that role clarity, relationship building, information sharing, resource support, and experiential learning are important aspects in virtual group development. There was also a sense that more research was needed on how group support systems can help groups interact with their external environment, as well as on how to enhance the process of learning by group members.
Comstock and Fox have written about their experiences in integrating computer conferencing into a learning community for mid-career working adults attending a Graduate Management Program at Antioch University in Seattle.
From to , the researchers and their students made use of a dial-up computer conferencing system called Caucus to augment learning outside of monthly classroom weekends.
Their findings relate to establishing boundaries to interaction, creating a caring community, and building collaborative learning. Boundary setting was a matter of both defined membership, i. The architecture of the online environment was equated to that of a house, in which locked rooms allowed for privacy, but hampered interaction. They suggest some software design changes that would provide more cues and flexibility to improve access and usage. Relationships in a caring community were fostered by caring talk, personal conversations and story telling.
Over time, expressions of personal concern for other participants increased, exemplifying a more tightly-knit group. These processes provided the support and induced the trust needed to sustain the more in-depth collaborative learning taking place. Students were expected to use the system for collaborative learning using three forms of conversation - dialogue, discussion and critical reflection. Dialogues were enjoined as a result of attempts to relate classroom lessons to personal situations at work, with a better understanding provided by multiple opinions.
Discussions, distinguished by the goal of making a group decision or taking an action, required a fair degree of moderation, insofar as participants found it difficult to reach closure. The process of reflecting critically on ideas was also difficult - participants rarely took the time to analyze postings, preferring a more immediate, and more superficial, conversational style.
The authors conclude with four recommendations: The characteristics of the new information technologies, especially that of computer conferencing, which allows group communications to take place outside of the bounds of time and space, have the potential to be well suited to action research.
Projects that traditionally have been limited to local, real-time interactions, such as in the case of search conferences, now have the possibility of being conducted online, with the promise of larger-sized groups, more reflexivity, greater geographic reach, and for a longer period of sustained interaction. The current state of the software architecture, though, does not seem to be sufficient to induce the focused collaboration required. Perhaps this will remain the case until cyberspace becomes as elaborate in contextual cues as our current socio-physical environment.
Whatever the eventual outcome of online developments, it is certain that action research and information technologies will continue to converge, and we must be prepared to use action research techniques to better understand and utilize this convergence. This paper has presented an overview of action research as a methodological approach to solving social problems. The principles and procedures of this type of research, and epistemological underpinnings, were described, along with the evolution of the practice.
Details of a search conference and other tools were given, as was an indication of the roles and ethics involved in the research. The case studies gave concrete examples of projects, particularly in the relatively new area of social deployment of information technologies.
Further action research is needed to explore the potential for developing computer-mediated communications in a way that will enhance human interactions. A Sociotechnical Systems Perspective," ed. Sage Publications, Principles and Practice in Action-Research Philadelphia: The Falmer Press, Under Siege and Taking Charge!
Falmer Press, Future Search Process Design. Boog, Ben, et al. Tilbury University Press, Chisholm, Rupert, and Max Elden. Comstock, Don, and Sally Fox. Elden, Max, and Rupert Chisholm. Introduction to the Special Issue.
Captus University Publications, An accounting of the outcomes has not yet been published. Perspectives on Sustainable Futures. D Bell and R. An Application of Action Learning Principles. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The Development and Purpose of Participatory Research. A Casebook for Educational Reform. A Social Construction of Organizational Behaviour.
Lau, Francis, and Robert Hayward. Morgan, Gareth, and Raphael Ramirez. York University Action Learning Group. Wilkinson and William C. The Origins and Growth of Action Learning.
A Sociotechnical Systems Perspective.
Critical action research is a specific type of action research that adopts critical approach towards business processes and aims for improvements. The following features of action research need to be taken into account when considering its suitability for any given study: It is applied in order to improve specific practices.
Action research is known by many other names, including participatory research, collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research, action learning, and contextural action research, but all are variations on a .
• Remember that action research is a learning process. • Organize my work in series of spirals of action and reflection. • Undertake my research rigorously and systematically. • Show evidence that there has been an improvement in the quality of education in my context. • Make it a visible process. 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.
Philosophy, Methodology and Action Research WILFRED CARR The aim of this paper is to examine the role of methodology in action research. It begins by showing how, as a form of inquiry concerned with the development of practice, action research is nothing other than a modern 20th century. 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.