resources icon.pngResources for the Activities for Tutorial 5: Plan for Action

A. Logic Models and Theories of Action

A valuable tool to diagram your theory of action is a logic model and it is good have it be a living document. 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). This planning process will help you think about what will be indicators that you can use to see if you logic model matched the experiences you had. Mapping out the theory of action is a great planning process.

1) The University of Wisconsin has designed an interactive and very effective tutorial for learning how to create a logic model. This is an excellent tool to help action researchers think about the problem they are addressing. They also post templates, examples and resources. In the section of the tutorial focused on evaluation of your logic model they suggest you check to see that your logic model is meaningful, plausible, doable, and testable. external image thinking_complete.gif


From the Logic Model Tutorial from the University of Wisconsin Extension program

2) You can also download the
W. K. Kellogg Foundation guide to developing a logic model .


3) Here is a link to a video description of logic model design by the THE EVALUATION CENTER They are assuming evaluative research. Action research might include an evaluation component but remember that action research is not the same as evaluation research. So some of the discussion will be more directed to evaluation than to action research but it might help generate some ideas of how to document change.

4) University of Arizona provides help in developing Logic Models Visit to see a video on why you might want to use a logic model. Their focus is on evaluation research but this also works for action research. This web-based Logic Model builder provides step-by-step processes to build models, identify common measures, and also to build surveys.

5) It is good to have a way for people to discuss their logic models and voice threads is a good technology for doing this. You can see how we used it at Pepperdine to have students both present and discuss their logic modes. At the time we created this, it was only for the class and the participants did not think that anyone else would listen to it, but they have agreed have their discussion posted here to help you see how this activity can help people think collectively about their plans to make changes.

In this "voice thread" you can advance through the slides with the small arrows on the bottom right. On each slide there is a audio file to play with comments from students to each other, as well as my comments as the professor. Moving the circular cursor over the timeline, you can see who is speaking and how long each person speaks. It demonstrates how you can have an asynchronous audio discussion around an object--in this case logic models-- online.

The sequence was:
1) Students created a logic model which was posted to a slide in voicethreads.
2) Students verbally "walked" us through their logic model.
3) Later, their learning circle mates and I offered comments and suggestions to the logic model using voice or text.

6) There are many graphic programs and templates for creating logic models including the graphics available in presentation software like powerpoint or prezi.

B. Forces that Support or Challenge your Project

1. Force Field Analysis was a tool that Kurt Lewin suggested in the 1940s to understand the way groups of people change. We continue to use force field Analysis in a range of setting to help make decisions about how to move forward on projects. Mind tools describes the process of using a force field analysis to inform business decisions. They have descriptions, a video and exercises including a worksheet to help you get started. .

2. The Overseas Development Institute, the UK's leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues also promotes the use of force field analysis as a management tool. Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 1.22.31 AM.png

3. MIT Human Resources has a Force Field tool with consists of three parts: the Instructions, the Worksheet and the Force Field Map. They suggest that you download and print all three parts before you begin by following the instructions in the first document.

4. Ingie Hovland suggests a group process for completing force field analysis that might be effective in your situation.

Here is an example of a force field analysis prepared by Michelle Green

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C. Developing an Ethical Plan

Ethical issues surround action research.

When preparing students for action research, it is important that they understand the research culture and the standards of practice for conducting social science research.

Since action research is often focused on learning how to improve your practice, you are the primary object of the research. However, if you are collecting data that steps out of the normal processes of work, you may need to consider getting formal approval. It is always a good idea to share what you are doing with the person or organization that supervises your work. They will help you decided what level of consent or permission you might need. This process is to protect you as much as it is to protect those you work with.

We host an ongoing debate on how action research projects are reviewed through Institutional Review Board (IRB).

In general, for any research it is important to consider the following:

  • Confidentiality : The use of real names of people and places should be protected by using fictional names of initials unless otherwise negotiated and agreed. Also it needs to be clear to all who will have access to the evidence you are collecting and what will be done it.
  • Openness: It is important to be as clear and honest as you can be in conducting your research. You don't need to tell others the exact relationship that you are investigating if you think it might direct them to act in a way to make make you successful. For example you can say you are exploring new strategies to engage students in math without being explicit about the particular strategies.
  • Informed and Engaged: Everyone involved in the research has an equal right to be informed. If an event or decision affects them, they need to know about it and be involved in the process. The social process is very important in action research and the goal is group transformation.
  • Voluntary: If you are asking others to provide information that his not routinely done, then you should be clear that they have the right to opt out of the process. But if it is a school activity, then you will not want to make participation voluntary.

Here are some tutorials that focus on all forms of research including medical research and a video to help you think about the issues:

1) National Cancer Institute - IRB Tutorial

--------- Here is the direct link to the sign-up page

2) University of Minnesota Informed Consent Tutorial:

--------- Select the social sciences model -- here is the direct link

3) Short Video on IRB board process and their role in evaluation research. It is important to have someone or some group help you make sure you are acting an ethical manner when you are engage in action research.


There is a debate among social science and action researchers as to when it is necessary to have a formal review of action research. You can find more information by following the link.

If one is working with minors, in a way that is not part of their job, then parental consent is necessary for any work that is not part of what would normally take place in their program. Here is a template that Matt Jones, a swim coach, used to create a letter to parents in a project that was recently published on the Center for Collaborative Action Research .

Templates for Consent Letters

Return to Tutorial 5 main page or to Tutorial 5 ActivitiesMove forward to T6: Cycle 1 Research Question

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