Action research is a qualitative research method that involves taking action and conducting research simultaneously to solve problems. It’s often used in social systems like schools and other organizations.
The cyclical action research process has four basic stages: Reflect, Plan, Act, Observe.
Action research is participative and collaborative, and involves individuals with a common purpose. The results of action research are practical, relevant, and can inform theory.
An example of action research in education is a teacher-researcher studying how their teaching has changed to facilitate better discussions in the classroom.
Definition of Action Research
Action research is a process of systematically collecting and analyzing data about a specific practice or situation, with the goal of improving the practice or situation. It is a cyclical process that involves planning, acting, observing, and reflecting.– Kurt Lewin
3 Levels of Action Research
Action Research can be categorized into three levels:
- Individual: This is where a teacher conducts research in their classroom. They may be trying to improve their teaching methods or address a specific issue in their classroom.
- Collaborative: This involves a group of teachers or a team conducting research. They may be trying to improve a teaching strategy that they all use or address a common issue they all face.
- Institutional: This is where the research is conducted by an institution or organization. They may be trying to improve a system-wide practice or address a larger issue that affects the entire organization.
3 Types of Action Research
Action Research is a method of inquiry that is often used in education or organizational settings to improve a practice or solve an issue. It is a reflective, iterative, and participatory process where the individuals involved in the research are also the ones affected by the outcomes of the research.
Action Research can be categorized into three models:
- Operational (or technical): This model is often visualized as a spiral, following a series of steps such as planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. It is focused on how the research is conducted and is designed to address and solve specific issues.
- Collaboration: This model involves teacher groups or teams conducting research. It is more community-based, focused on building a network of similar individuals and compiling learnings from iterated feedback cycles.
- Critical reflection: This model involves different patterns of saying, doing, and relating. It serves to contextualize systemic processes that are already ongoing, working retroactively to analyze existing systems by questioning why certain practices were put into place and developed the way they did.
Each of these models and levels is designed to address different types of issues and improve different practices. They offer various ways to approach the research and provide different benefits and challenges. The choice of level and model would depend on the specific issue or practice that needs to be addressed and the context in which the research is being conducted.
How to write an Action Research
These are the steps on how to write an action research:
- Select a problem or issue
- Review the literature
- Develop a research plan
- Collect data
- Analyze the data
- Reflect on the findings
- Develop an action plan
- Write up your research
Select a problem or issue: Identify a specific problem or issue that you want to investigate and address through your action research. This could be a challenge or opportunity in your educational setting or any other context where you want to bring about change.
Review the literature: Conduct a thorough review of existing literature related to your problem or issue. This will help you understand the current knowledge and research gaps in the area, as well as inform your research plan and action plan.
Develop a research plan: Outline the steps and methods you will use to collect data and analyze it. This includes determining the research questions or objectives, selecting appropriate data collection methods (such as surveys, interviews, observations, or document analysis), and planning the timeline and resources needed for your research.
Collect data: Implement your research plan by collecting relevant data. This may involve conducting interviews, administering surveys, observing classroom activities, or analyzing documents or artifacts. Ensure that your data collection methods align with your research questions and objectives.
Analyze the data: Once you have collected your data, analyze it using appropriate qualitative or quantitative methods. This could involve coding and categorizing qualitative data, conducting statistical analyses, or identifying patterns and themes in your data. The analysis should be guided by your research questions and objectives.
Reflect on the findings: Reflect on the results of your data analysis and consider their implications for addressing the problem or issue you identified. This reflection should involve critically examining the data, identifying key findings, and considering how they align with or challenge existing theories or practices.
Develop an action plan: Based on your reflection and analysis, develop an action plan that outlines specific steps and strategies for addressing the problem or issue. This plan should be informed by the evidence and insights gained from your research and should be practical and feasible to implement.
Write up your research: Finally, write a comprehensive report or paper that documents your action research process, findings, and action plan. Your research paper should have an introductory part which gives essential information about the issue in question as well as context.
A section where you explain how you conducted your study, results part for presenting your results and an implication and limitation section explaining implications and constrains to consider when implementing interventions based Ensure that you required format and referencing guidelines applicable in your discipline or institution
Benefits of Action Research
- Real-time problem solving
- Immediate implementation of solutions
- Fostering continuous learning and improvement
- Promoting collaborative decision-making
- Enhancing organizational effectiveness, employee participation, and leadership development
- Informing theory
- Empowering participants
- Enabling change
- Creating opportunities for organizational learning
- Yielding rich data from multiple sources
- Individuals with a common purpose
- Practical, relevant, and can inform theory