Action Research in Education

Mary Beth Hines, Adam Henze, Christina Ivanova, Leslie Rowland, Lottie Waggoner and Maria Lisak

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online February 2016 | | DOI:
Action Research in Education

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  • Education
  • Organization and Management of Education
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Educational action research involves participants conducting inquiry into their own practices in order to improve teaching and learning, practices and programs. This means that the researcher is a participant in the activity being investigated, be it in schools or community centers—wherever teaching and learning occur. In Guiding School Improvement with Action Research (Sagor 2000, cited under Collaborative Inquiry and School-Wide Teams for Administrators and School Leaders), Richard Sagor describes action research as “a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action . . .[in order to] assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions” (p. 3). The term “educational action research” encompasses a variety of approaches with different goals (see Historical Overviews of Educational Action Research). While there is no consensus on a taxonomy that best describes its variations (modes, goals, epistemologies, politics, processes), most analyses identify the following types: (1) “Teacher research” signifies P-16 teacher-conducted inquiry designed to explore research questions related to educational improvement. It is often used interchangeably with “practitioner research/participant inquiry,” although this is a broader term that also refers to projects initiated by others in the educational experience (e.g., administrators, staff, community members). (2) “Participatory action research” (PAR) emphasizes equal, collaborative participation among university and/or school personnel and/or others with vested interests in education, working toward the shared goal of producing educational change. (3) “Youth participatory action research” (YPAR) includes young people as research partners and agents of change. (4) “Critical action research” refers to investigations of underlying power relations present in one’s situated educational practices. All educational action research is designed to impact local policy and practice. Critiques of action research object to this focus on the micro level, claiming that it does not impact education beyond the immediate audience. However, this viewpoint obscures the fact that qualitative action research case studies and cross-case analyses are generalizable to theory, thus carrying the potential to create widespread change. Another critique centers on the limited effectiveness of connecting action research with social justice. However, others argue that social justice is inextricably woven into action research because the inquiry stems from grassroots movements that emphasize social change (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 2009, cited under Books) and privileges the educator’s “insider” knowledge alongside the outside researcher’s formal academic training. The following criteria were for selecting the texts cited in this bibliography: (1) texts that were peer-reviewed, (2) texts explicitly described as action research (or a synonymous term) by the writer or other scholars, (3) texts cited more frequently than other texts on the same issue, (4) texts originally written in English. These criteria eliminated the possibility of using dissertations, conference papers, blogs, or pedagogical narratives that were not described as action research (or a comparable term), or reports written in other languages.

Article.  9447 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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