The action research model is based on a fundamental cycle: observation, reflection, taking action, and repeat.
So what does that cycle look like at CLU?
CLU’s Action Research Model
Because CLU emphasizes mindfulness, dialogue, collaboration, and change as part of its academic core, our cycles emphasize the role of mindfulness as part of the observation and reflection and process.
The cycles also emphasize action through broadening circles of influence – the self, the participant group (or “stakeholders”), and the problem itself. These broadening circles are embodied in practices of mindfulness, dialogue, and collaboration, which lead to measurable change.
For example, through mindfulness practices that improve self-awareness, a student may observe and reflect that mentoring is a significant concern for her. And through these same mindfulness practices that help her be more present in her external environment, she may observe that her organization’s mentoring program fails to promote lasting mentoring relationships.
Next, the student begins a dialogue with others in the organization to better understand how they see mentoring. She listens to hear what they like about the current program, and what they don’t like. In a dialogue with the human resources department, she hears their frustrations with failed mentoring programs. She also hears their ideas for other mentoring structures.
The student also engages in a dialogue with what has been written in both academic and professional resources, looking for sustainable models and best practices. While reading, the student constantly observes what has already been done or suggestions for what might be done. She reflects on how the literature informs what she might do in her own situation, and she takes action by organizing the information and sharing it with others.
As part of the dialogue and collaboration process, the student forms a group who shares her concern for mentoring.
She collaborates with this group to determine:
- a mutual goal they share for a mentoring program in the organization,
- the methods for carrying out that goal,
- and how they will measure their degree of success.
After multiple conversations, the group decides to collaborate with the human resource department’s suggestion to try a series of mentoring events. This series would introduce potential mentors and mentees looking for a “good fit” that will encourage a sustainable professional relationship.
Leading to Change
Finally, the stakeholder group starts its first attempt at changing the organization’s mentoring program. The group, as part of this attempt, hosts three different events. Then, the group uses a survey both before the events begin and a few weeks after to determine its effectiveness. They also assess their effectiveness in meeting their goal in these surveys. Afterwards, they mutually discuss the results to determine what, if any, change they have inspired. Lastly, they discuss next steps.
So what were the results of this process? Potentially, there are three levels of change output.
Three Levels of Change
First, the individual practitioner changes because she has learned and applied theory and skill in self-awareness, facilitating dialogue, forming and maintaining a collaborative group, and studying measurable change in her organization.
Second, the collaborative stakeholders also experience change because their own efficacy in addressing a shared concern has increased. They have mutually shared their concerns and practiced dialogue and collaboration skills to work together to better understand and make measurable change happen on a problem in their organization.
Finally, the problem addressed may change based on the practitioner and stakeholder group’s initiative. Even if their initial attempt to change isn’t successful, the group learns lessons that they can apply in future attempts to address the problem.
Curious to see what CLU’s action research model looks like?