todo icon.pngActivities for Planning Your Action Research

A. Rich Description of your Workplace or Site of Your Action Research

You may have generated a number of questions but for the most part they are likely to be about problems that are in a similar setting. If you are considering different settings you may need to work at a description of each of them. This will be the first draft of part of your e-portfolio.

This is your time to really develop your description skills. What do you see, not what do you think. Tell us what you see taking place in your workspaces. Avoid words like "I think" or "this person feels..." Tell us what you see taking place working towards an insiders objective view of the setting. Thinking about these dimensions might help you.

Thick Description
Describe the context of the problem or challenge you have selected.

  • Where is your action research taking place? Describe the physical setting. There is the immediate setting, say a classroom or a office, and there is the larger context of the school or type of business. You don’t have to provide the names of the place, just the characteristics.
  • Who will be involved (community roles- leaders) –both the people you will be working with directly and those that might be involved indirectly. What are the norms and expectations patterns of interaction at this time. Describe the basic demographics of the community you will be working with and how do you fit in. What are the roles and responsibilities of the people you will be working with.
  • What are the resources and assets you have available and what have you done up to this point. Is this going to be a new effort or a refinement of something you have been working. What is likely to happen if nothing is done?
  • What is the history of the problem… new, ongoing, urgency? Are there regulations or rules that set boundaries that the reader should understand. Are there economic or political issues that need to be mentioned.

Template for Rich Description of Setting.

B. Develop a Review of the Research Literature

Give your readers an overview of what you have learned from reading the works of others.

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The task is to analyze and synthesize across a number of studies the relevant information to think about the challenge you have undertaken. By starting with a review of what others have done, you place your research in the context of the work that has preceded you. We see more and understand better when we take advantage of the wisdom of those who have researched before us. Sometime new researchers are disappointed when they find a study that is similar to what they plan to do. They feel that it diminishes the originality of their plan. But, in fact, experienced researchers realize that they have a partner to work with, even if it is only from a distance. Will your findings be the same or different? Your setting is likely to be different in many ways you will be able to see if these differences are important or not. If you confirm the study results, you make them stronger. If you find differences, you can speculate about what was the difference that mattered. This is how, over time, we can build knowledge as a community of researchers. So welcome to the research community and enjoy what you learn as you work through your understanding of the problem from the perspectives of past research. See resources for guidance in developing a literature review.
You can end by describing your living theories. See the Educational Journal of Living Theories ( and think about what theories of learning and theories of change you are evolving in your work. Consider including your logic model (see activities for the next tutorial).

Template for writing your literature review

C. Write your Relections on Learning in your Blog

At regular intervals you should be recording your ideas, plans and reflections in your blog. I will be adding a blog template from time to time but you should be writing in your blog continuously throughout the project.

Template for Blog on learning through writing

Continue to T4 Resources or return to Tutorial 4
Move forward to T5: Plan For Action

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