STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER• Defining action research• Principles and characteristics of action research• Participatory action research• Action research as critical praxis• Action research and complexity theory• Procedures for action research• Reporting action research• Reflexivity in action research• Some practical and theoretical matters
ACTION RESEARCH• Action research is a small-scale intervention in the functioning of the real world to address practitioners’ own issues, and a close examination of the effects of such an intervention.• Kemmis and McTaggart (1992: 10): – ‘to do action research is to plan, act, observe and reflect more carefully, more systematically, and more rigorously than one usually does in everyday life’.• Action research combines diagnosis, action and reflection.
ACTION RESEARCH COMBINES 6 NOTIONS1. A straightforward cycle of: identifying a problem, planning an intervention, implementing the intervention, evaluating the outcome;2. Reflective practice;3. Political emancipation;4. Critical theory;5. Professional development; and6. Participatory practitioner research.
ELEMENTS OF ACTION RESEARCH• It works on participants’ own problems;• It seeks to improve practice;• It is collaborative and participatory;• It is problem-solving;• It is undertaken in situ;• It is an ongoing cycle of diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation;• It is methodologically eclectic;• It requires reflection;• It builds on professional development.
ACTION RESEARCH IS . . .• Critical (and self-critical) collaborative inquiry by• Reflective practitioners being• Accountable and making results of their enquiry public• Self-evaluating their practice and engaged in• Participatory problem-solving and continuing professional development.
PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH• It commences with explicit social and political intentions that articulate with the dominated and poor classes and groups in society;• It involves popular participation in the research process;• It regards knowledge as an agent of social transformation as a whole, constituting a critique of those views of knowledge (theory) as separate from practice;• Its epistemological base is rooted in critical theory and its critique of the subject/object relations in research;• It engages issues of power;• It raises the consciousness of individuals and groups;• It is a democratic activity.
ACTION RESEARCH AS CRITICAL PRAXIS• The emancipatory interest of Habermas: to understand and change the world• Ideology critique and action• People taking control of their own lives• A challenge to the illegitimate operation of power• A concern for equality and social justice• Empowerment of individuals and groups
CRITICISMS OF ACTION RESEARCH AS CRITICAL PRAXIS• It is uncritical and self-contradicting;• It will promote conformity through slavish adherence to its orthodoxies;• It is naïve in its understanding of groups and celebrates groups over individuals;• It privileges its own view of science (rejecting objectivity) and lacks modesty;• It privileges the authority of critical theory;• It is elitist whilst purporting to serve egalitarianism;• It assumes an undifferentiated view of action research;• It attempts to colonize and redirect action research.
THE ACTION RESEARCH CYCLE T h e n P la n R e s e a r c h I m p le m e n t A c tio n and M o n ito r F ir s t A c tio n P la n Act P la n a c tio n thoughtfully A c tio n (to g e th e r )Reconnaissance (First Cycle) R e fle c t E v a lu a te R e s e a r c h F ir s t (o n A c tio n ) a c tio n a c tio n P r o d u c e D a ta and R e v ie w (R e s e a r c h ) P r o c e s s T h e n (s e p a r a te ly A n a ly s e a n d to g e th e r ) D a ta (Tripp, 2003)
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM – CAUSES NOT SYMPTOMS Diagnosis:• What actually is the real problem?• What are the causes?
PLAN INTERVENTIONS Divergent Phase:• What actions are possible?• What alternatives are there?• Evaluate alternatives. Convergent Phase:• Which intervention will be adopted?• Decide from amongst the alternatives. Planning:• How will the intervention be implemented?
IMPLEMENTATION Putting the plan into action• Initiation• Development• Sustenance• Follow-up
EVALUATION How successfully has the intervention addressed the issue?• What are the success criteria?• How will you know if the intervention has been successful?• What are the outcomes of the intervention?• What ongoing monitoring will there be?• What will you do if the intervention is not working?
REFLEXIVITY IN ACTION RESEARCH• A self-conscious awareness of the effects that the participants-as- practitioners-and-researchers are having on the research process, how their values, attitudes, perceptions, opinions, actions, feelings etc. are influencing the situation being studied.• How the researcher/practitioner may be biasing the research.