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THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF ACTION RESEARCH

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Title: THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF ACTION RESEARCH


1
THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
  • FACULTY OF EDUCATION
  • POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH CONFERENCE
  • PRECONFERENCE WORKSHOP
  • FRIDAY 3 JUNE 2005
  • GWYN EDWARDS

2
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • ...... the quality of fundamental research and
    the quality of action research are to be judged
    by different criteria. The value of the former is
    determined by the amount of dependable knowledge
    it adds to that already recorded and available to
    anyone who wants to familiarize himself sic
    with it. The value of action research, on the
    other hand, is determined primarily by the extent
    to which findings lead to improvement in the
    practices of people engaged in the research.
  •  
  • Corey (1953)

3
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • The fundamental aim of action research is to
    improve practice rather than to produce
    knowledge. The production and utilization of
    knowledge is subordinate to, and conditioned by,
    this fundamental aim.
  •  
  • Elliott (1991)

4
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • Action research aims at feeding the practical
    judgement of actors in problematic situations.
    The validity of the concepts, models and results
    it generates depends not so much on scientific
    tests of truth as on their utility in helping
    practitioners to act more effectively, skillfully
    and intelligently.
  • McKernan (1996)

5
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • Action research rejects the concept of a
    two-stage process in which research is carried
    out first by researchers and then in a separate
    second stage the knowledge generated from the
    research is applied by practitioners. Instead,
    the two processes of research and action are
    integrated.
  • Somekh (1995)

6
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • Practitioner research can only be designated
    action research if it is carried out by
    professionals who are engaged in researching,
    through structured self-reflection, aspects of
    their own practice (emphasis added).
  • Edwards and Talbot (1994)

7
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • Defining characteristics of action research
  • Practical
  • Change
  • Cyclical process
  • Participation
  • Descombe (2003)

8
WHAT IS ACTION RESEARCH?
  • Action research is
  •  situational contextual practice-based
  • collaborative participatory collegial
  • interventionist improvement-oriented
  • practitioner-led
  • scientific systematic rigorous
  • self-reflective reflexive
  • value-driven normative
  • emancipatory empowering critical
  • a single case
  • methodologically eclectic
  • dialogically validated

9
THE PURPOSES OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • Five interrelated purposes
  • Action research as a model of curriculum.
  • Action research as a strategy for curriculum
    development.
  • Action research as a model of professional
    accountability.
  • Action research as strategy for the professional
    development of practitioners.
  • Action research as an alternative paradigm of
    educational research.

10
REASON FOR DOING ACTION RESEARCH
  • An interest in knowing how students learn
  • An interest in curriculum innovation
  • A desire to change ones teaching
  • A search for connections and meanings
  • Fischer (2001)

11
THE STAGES OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • Define the inquiry
  • Describe the situation
  • Collect evaluative data and analyse it
  • Review the data and look for contractions
  • Tackle the contradiction by introducing change
  • Monitor the change
  • Analyse evaluative data about the change
  • Review the change and decide what to do next
  • Bassey (1998) slightly modified by Robson (2001)

12
THE ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE (Descombe 1999)
  • Instigate change Identify problem
  • or evaluate change
  • Translate
    findings Systematic and
  • into action plan
    rigorous enquiry

1 Professional Practice
2 Critical Reflection
5 Action
3 Research
4 Strategic Planning
13
THE MOMENTS OF ACTION RESEARCH (Kemmis 1982)
  • Plan
  • Action
  • Observation
  • Reflection
  • Revised Plan
  • Action
  • Observation
  • Reflection

14
THE ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE (Calhoun 1994)
1 Select Area
2 Collect Data
5 Take Action
3 Organize Data
4 Analyze and Interpret Data
15
THE STAGES OF ACTION RESEARCH
A Finding a starting point
B Clarifying the situation
C Developing action and strategies and
putting them into practice
D Analysis and theory generation
16
STARTING POINTS FOR ACTION RESEARCH
  • Dadds
  •   an interest
  •  a difficulty
  •   an 'unclear' situation
  • Hopkins
  •   a performance gap
  • McNiff, Lomax and Whitehead
  •   a contradiction

17
EXAMINING STARTING POINTS FOR ACTION RESEARCH
  • Altrichter, Posch and Somekh (1993) suggest that
    starting points can be examined in light of the
    following criteria
  • scope for action
  • relevance
  • manageability
  • compatibility

18
GENERATING QUESTIONS FOR ACTION RESEARCH
  • My students think that science means recalling
    facts rather than a process of enquiry. How can I
    stimulate enquiry in my students? Change the
    curriculum? Change my questioning? Settle on
    questioning strategies.
  • Kemmis and McTaggart (1982)

19
GENERATING QUESTIONS FOR ACTION RESEARCH
  • My question emerged out of what I understood to
    be problematic classroom dynamics that surfaced
    immediately at the beginning of the year. For one
    thing . eight boys dominated the classroom
    especially during all class discussions. A second
    interesting pattern emerged. Whenever I asked the
    class to voluntary form groups, line up, or make
    a circle, they did so in exactly the same fashion
    - sorting themselves neatly first by gender, then
    by ethnic and racial affiliation. My questions
    were How can I increase participation in all
    class discussions by those less willing or able
    to share? How can I help the students in my
    classroom feel comfortable working with diverse
    groupings of classmates and ultimately overcome,
    at least part of the time, their desire to always
    be with their friends?
  • Coccari (1998)

20
JUDGING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • Did the research provide you with any new
    insights into your practice?
  • Did these insights lead to any changes your
    practice?
  • Did these changes have any impact on pupil
    learning?
  • Did the research provide the basis for further
    questions /inquiry?

21
JUDGING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • Was the research
  • persuasive
  • believable
  • compelling
  • authentic
  • honest
  • rigorous
  • consistent
  • sincere
  • reflexive

22
THE VALIDITY OF ACTION RESEARCH
  • Democratic validity relates to the extent to
    which the research is truly collaborative and
    allows for the inclusion of multiple voices.
  • Outcome validity relates to the notion of actions
    leading to outcomes that are successful within
    the research context.
  • Process validity raises questions about the
    dependability and competency of the research.
  • Catalytic validity relates to the extent to which
    the research allows participants to deepen their
    understanding of the social realities of the
    context and how they can make changes within it.
  • Dialogical validity parallels the processes of
    peer review which are commonly used in academic
    research.

23
APPROACHES TO ACTION RESEARCH
  • Based on the work of Habermas, three forms of
    action research are widely recognised
  • Technical
  • Practical
  • Emancipatory

24
HABERMASS KNOWLEDGE-CONSTITUTIVE INTERESTS
  • INTEREST SCIENCE
  • Technical Empirical-analytical
  • or natural sciences
  • Practical Hermeneutic or
  • interpretive sciences
  • Emancipatory Critical sciences

25
ACTION RESEARCH IN HONG KONG
  • Facilitating teachers to learn from their own
    experiences and improve their practice by action
    research is an important means to teacher
    empowerment, school improvement and educational
    change. The idea of action research has never
    been well received in Hong Kong nor is the idea
    explicitly supported in the local context.
  • Wai Shing Li (1999)

26
  • It is teachers who, in the end, will change the
    world of the school by understanding it.
  • Lawrence Stenhouse
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