Action research, as defined the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, is “a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.”
This method has been increasingly more favored in education as it empowers the researcher and its readers. It is also a more actionable research method, allowing for the researchers to become more effective in their core expertise. It transforms the student from an academic space to a practicing space. With this model, the student becomes an able practitioner in the space they are passionate about.
But did you know how this model got its start? And what is the difference between traditional methods and this actionable method?
Here are 5 things you should know about action research.
- It got its start during World War II, based on the work of Kurt Lewin – a researcher who previously left Nazi Germany.
- The US disfavored the method during the 50s and 60s, as it was associated with “radical” movements of the era.
- While traditional social sciences emphasize and “objective” point of view, this actionable research method encourages researchers to be open about their personal values and their experiences, including self-evaluations of the researcher as a practitioner.
- This method is not a monologue document from the point of view of the researcher, but rather the record of a dialogue between the researcher and other stakeholders, as they try to understand and make change happen together. The focus is on learning with a group of stakeholders rather than learning about them.
- It does not make “generalizable” claims, but rather it emphasizes what happened in a particular context. Readers may draw their own conclusions on how they might apply the findings of an action research report.
Want to learn more about what action research is and how to carry it out? Then you should take a look at these resources:
- All You Need to Know About Action Research
- Action Research
- Introduction to Action Research: Social Research for Social Change
- For a deep dive into its literature, see The Sage Handbook for Action Research.