resources icon.pngT2: Understanding Action Research

Please explore the resources to build your knowledge about action research

1) The Center for Collaborative Action Research, CCAR

This image was designed by a group of Pepperdine students working remotely

At the Center for Collaborative Action Research, Riel (2013) describes action research is a form of cyclic learning that capitalizes on day-to-day work experiences as opportunities to improve practice. Action researchers gain deeper understanding of the social, political, and physical forces that shape actions in complex social settings. It is a way of learning more from practice by questioning, listening, watching, acting, analyzing, and reflecting. Action research can be done in a formal way with results which can be shared across contexts or it can be conducted informally as a way of learning from and improving one's practice. When conducted formally, action research can provide new understandings of relationships that can become the basis of further study. When carried out informally, action research can become a habit of mind, a process of progressive problem solving that leads to a form of adaptive expertise (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993, Bransford, Brown, & Cockling, 1999)

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing ourselves. An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. Chicago: Open Court.
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. National Academy Press.

2) Action Research for Professional Development -

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Excellent Help for novice Action Researchers

Jean McNiff describes what action research is in this concise booklet

You may still be able to download her edited book from the annual conference on Value and Virtue. It examines value-driven action research from multiple perspectives.


3) The Center for Technology in Education

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The Center for Technology in Education (CTE), at John Hopkins University posted an online guide archived here, although they appear to have taken it off of their current site.

4) Overview of Action Research

An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research

Rory O’Brien, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

5) A chapter on Action Research for Health Care Providers

The first chapter from this book is available online and gives a great overview of action as it is practiced in the healthcare.

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Action research is problem-based but this does not mean that the problem is always fixing something that is broken or negative. "Problem seeing" or "problem finding" is a talent that action researchers develop. While some problems are clearly visible in settings, many others are only seen by paying attention to activities and asking how they can be continually improved. While some people take the stance that things are working well enough, action researchers search for the places that lead to improvement. But for some, problem finding or problem solving feels like too strong a focus on what is wrong and sets a negative tone with a group of people. So a form of action research has evolved that is called appreciative inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry begins the inquiry with success and encourages the development of a deeper understanding of that succes. The process is then to move toward an imagined future that improves on the current practice by asking questions that heighten positive potential to strengthen the capacity of a group.
While this is often is a process of problem finding, they choose to avoid the use of the term "problem" and instead talk about ways of improving the system. To learn more about appreciative Inquiry (AI) visit the Appreciative Inquiry Portal.

7) Another concept that you might find helpful as you contemplate your action research project is cultural humility. Vivian Chavez published a video in four parts explaining the concept of cultural humility. The three principles of cultural humility hold for action research as well.
  • Lifelong learning and critical self-reflection
  • Recognizing and change power in balances
  • Institutional accountability

Cultural Humility: People, Principles and Practices

"More than a concept, Cultural Humility is a communal reflection to analyze the root causes of suffering and create a broader, more inclusive view of the world. Originally developed by Doctors Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia (1998) to address health disparities and institutional inequities in medicine, Cultural Humility is now used in public health, social work, education, and non-profit management. It is a daily practice for people to deal with hierarchical relationships, changing organizational policy and building relationships based on trust. The film tells stories of successes and challenges, and the road in between, when it comes to develop partnerships between community members, practitioners and academics. It encourages us to realize their own power, privilege and prejudices, and be willing to accept that acquired education and credentials alone are insufficient to address social inequality. "

M. Tervalon, J. Murray-Garcia (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: a critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education, Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, Vol. 9, No. 2. (May 1998), pp. 117-125.

7) Action Research in your Workplace

This handbook has a number of excellent resources. It is arranged arouond case studies and some great activities at the end of the document.It is not dated as far as I can see but I think that was published around 2001.
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View in pdf (1286k)

see on the web:

8) Other Communities, Organizations, and Journals

Joseph Shosh - Moravian Action Research Projects

Jack Whitehead - Action Research Network and Projects and the Educational Journal of Living Theories (EJOLT)

American Educational Research Association - Special Interest Group in Action Research

University of Notre Dame - Catholic Collaborative Action Resource Network

Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA)

Collaborative Action Research Network- (CARN)

Center for Collaborative Action Research (CCAR)

Action Research Journal — Sage Publications

Educational Action Research — Taylor and Francis__

Inquiry in Education Journal

List of action research Journals
List of links: Action Research links

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