Action research is either research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a “community of practice” to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. There are two types of action research: participatory action research and practical action research. Denscombe (2010, p. 6) writes that an action research strategy’s purpose is to solve a particular problem and to produce guidelines for best practice.
Action research involves actively participating in a change situation, often via an existing organization, whilst simultaneously conducting research. Action research can also be undertaken by larger organizations or institutions, assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim of improving their strategies, practices and knowledge of the environments within which they practice. As designers and stakeholders, researchers work with others to propose a new course of action to help their community improve its work practices. Action research is a practical approach to professional inquiry in any social situation. The examples in this component relate to education and are therefore of particular relevance to teachers or lecturers engaged in their daily contact with children or students. But professional practice need not be teaching: it may be management or administration in a school or college, or it may be in an unrelated area, such as medicine or the social services. The context for professional inquiry might change, but the principles and processes involved in action research are the same, regardless of the nature of the practice.
Indeed, action research did not arise in education (see Lewin 1948), but was applied to the development of teaching as its potential was identified. Of particular influence was the work of Lawrence Stenhouse, who famously advocated that ‘curriculum research and development ought to belong to the teacher’ (Stenhouse, 1975 p. 142). He was most adamant that ‘it is not enough that teachers’ work should be studied: they need to study it themselves’ (p.143).
As its name suggests, action research concerns actors – those people carrying out their professional actions from day to day – and its purpose is to understand and to improve those actions. It is about trying to understand professional action from the inside; as a result, it is research that is carried out by practitioners on their own practice, not (as in other forms of research), done by someone on somebody else’s practice. Action research in education is grounded in the working lives of teachers, as they experience them.
Carr and Kemmis (1986) describe action research as being about:
• the improvement of practice;
• the improvement of the understanding of practice;
• the improvement of the situation in which the practice takes place.
The notion of improvement can be problematic when viewed from the outside. One person’s improvement can be another person’s deterioration. It depends on the beliefs and values underpinning the individual’s perspective. Paradoxically, however, this uncertainty is perhaps the one truth of professional practice.
Action Research is to motivate students to be engaged successful learners through a classroom environment where they are participants and leaders.
There are two types of action research participatory action research and practical action research.
Action research produces generalizations about practice, but such generalizations are only part of a wider search for understanding. They are not directly applicable beyond the contingencies of my practice. Hamilton (1981) encapsulated this when he reflected that ‘to generalize is to render a public account of the past, present or future in a form that can be ‘tested’ through further action and inquiry’.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES.
Advantages of action research
The research process can force teachers to examine their personal beliefs regarding the nature of science and resolve conflict among them (beliefs) and curriculum perceived (Briscoe and Wells, 2002: 427).
Action research process can promote teachers’ growth as a empowered professional (Briscoe and Wells, 2002: 429). It challenge teachers’ understanding of what students know and how they learn. It gains teachers’ confidence in their teaching ability (Briscoe and Wells, 2002: 429).
Reading as a literature review of action research process can provide teachers knowledge base even they don’t conduct the research yet (Briscoe and Wells, 2002: 430).
Teachers engaging in research as a viable activity for solving problems of teaching and learning generated in the own classroom (Briscoe and Wells, 2002: 431).
Disadvantages of action research
Action research is not well known in the field of research.
It is harder to do than conventional research. You take on responsibilities for change as well as for research. In addition, as with other field research, it involves you in more work to set it up, and you don’t get any credit for that.
It doesn’t accord with the expectations of some examiners. Deliberately and for good reason it ignores some requirements which have become part of the ideology of some conventional research. In that sense, it is counter-cultural. Because of this, some examiners find it hard to judge it on its merits. They do not recognise that it has a different tradition, and is based on a methodological perspective and principles different to their own. (At a deeper level some of the differences disappear. Some examiners, however, judge research in terms of more superficial and specific principles.)
Action research is a form of research carried out by people on their own work and/or lives, sometimes with the help of an external facilitator. It aims to create a better understanding of the situation or problem being studied, and to change it for the better in the process. It is grounded in the fundamental assumption that the best way to understand a situation it to participate in it.
Action research is different from other forms of academic research in that it is not trying to create objective findings which can be generalised, but rather it aims to be of use to practitioners by solving problems, answering questions, developing new practices and developing new understanding. It aims to be participative and collaborative: it seeks to involve people in making sense of their own situations – so it is often described as research ‘with’ people, rather than ‘on’ them.
There are many names for varieties of action research such as action inquiry, action learning, co-operative inquiry, appreciative inquiry, participative inquiry and so on. Each has its own characteristics, but they share a commitment to certain values: to respect the involvement of everyone in the research process, to try in particular to honour the voices of people who often don’t get heard, to value the practical outcomes of the work and to attempt to make the situation being studied better, as judged by the participants.
2. Wendell L French; Cecil Bell (1973). Organization development: behavioral science interventions for organization improvement. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-13-641662-3. OCLC 314258.
3. Kurt Lewin (1958). Group Decision and Social Change. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 201.
4. Richard Arvid Johnson (1976). Management, systems, and society : an introduction. Pacific Palisades, Calif.: Goodyear Pub. Co. pp. 222–224. ISBN 978-0-87620-540-2. OCLC 2299496.