Action Research Dissertation Presentation
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  • Some lit may inform, but a more developed lit review or grounding in theory may come as the process evolves. AR is constantly evolving. As you discover new findings, you make changes, discover what happens next, search through literature, change methods, etc. Constant process. Those are benefits. Some potential risks: Higher degrees—assumption that “good” research is theory-driven. May not “fit notion of legitimate higher degree research.” If you find yourself in need of arguing for data-driven AR, focus on the impact and practical benefits to you, your participants, and the research context.
  • Critical reflection—examining and evaluating/reevaluating assumptions about knowledge, people, structures, processes, methodologies, etc. Action research spiral  performing cycle.
  • Imperative! As subjective, you must be able to support your desire to pursue AR if challenged. Your mini-project was short-term, about affecting change in your own school/classroom. For dissertation, bigger picture. How will it contribute to the greater knowledge base? Your work must be supported by other stuff in the field + your own work. Spiral: Each turn provides with another chance to test interpretations against data. With each turn, develop plan to test. Each turn is a mini-test. Planning  action  review/reflection
  • As an action & reflective process, in ed it’s pretty common and almost necessary to involve yourself in process. (See examples in dissertations next week.) What about others? This will largely depend on what context, issue, or interest is relevant for you at the time. If self, may not really have others. But might want to involve students, parents, other teachers, administrators, community members. Relevant to focus.
  • Coding is a general way of analyzing data, some of which you did in your own inquiry project in last module. Interpretation follows, figuring out what data means, how to categories, noting relevant themes, etc. Again, you did this, too. There are other methods you will encounter during your experiences as a doctoral student to consider. One important thing to keep in mind—always let the data speak to you. Don’t try to force your data into boxes or manipulate to demonstrate the results you want—or think you want. Let it be real, even if the reality is that something didn’t go as planned. You can learn from that. And rigor is important. Careful, thoughtful data analysis requires rigor, and clear, rich results will illustrate that.
  • There’s that word rigor again! For some research, it’s deemed “good” if the results can be generalized to larger or alternate groups under similar study. For AR dissertations for teachers, it’s different. No one else’s classroom or teaching or school is exactly like yours. However, you want your study to be transferable. What that means is that others should be able to make sense of it and potentially benefit from that knowledge, perhaps trying it out in their own context, tweaking it to fit. Your dissertation needs to contribute to the knowledge base, so you always want to see how your work affects your immediate context, but always think about how it has the potential to benefit others, too. Your finding your place in the broader educational community in addition to trying to affect change within your smaller context.
  • In the inquiry projects or smaller inquiry ventures in schools, write-ups are less formal, structured. Not so for dissertation. May be required to do traditional framework with chapters: intro, methods, results, discussion, conclusions. May have freedom of flexibility (example next week). Ultimately, it’s between you and advisor. If you are interested in alternative structures, it’s a good idea to consider your work and have explanations for how the alternative structure (narrative, nontraditional chapters) fits intrinsically with your work.
  • 1. It will be good to have an idea of where you’re thinking of going, what’s been done before, and how you can contribute, but the literature should provide a sense as opposed to a detailed map. Literature can be drawn upon as you go along. Becoming too involved in action and no attention to research = no direction, no relevance. Don’t simply recreate the wheel. 2. Data should be analyzed and interpreted as you go along, 3. so that way you can prepare to take action—and then work through the cycle of AR. 4. Write as you go. This will help you through your analysis, interpretation, planning, action, and reflection. And if you do as you go along, it not only benefits the next phase but makes the final document easier to compile.

Action Research Dissertation Presentation Action Research Dissertation Presentation Presentation Transcript

  • The Action Research Dissertation
    Ten Things to Consider
    Adapted from Bob Dick’s (2000) Postgraduate programs using action research.
  • #1: Data-Driven Research
    Deals with the context and people in that context
    Goal: Use data to improve practice, reflect  cycle
    Benefits to self and research context
    Increased practical qualifications
    Lit review/theory may come later
    Ongoing process
  • #2: Researcher as Performing Artist
    Learning from inquiry, experiences
    Advisors, committee as mentors, not directors
    Critical reflection
    Flexible, responsive
    Action Research Spiral
    The Action Research Spiral
    Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R. (1988).
  • #3: Rigor
    Rigor can be subjective
    Contribution to knowledge
    Supported by research, evidence, theory
    Back to the spiral!
    Built in rigorous cycle
  • #4: Level of Involvement
    Not all AR in Education
    In education—more personal involvement
    To what extent might you want to involve others?
  • #5: Data Collection
    Will depend on project
    Common: interviews, focus groups
    In Education:
    Student work
  • #6: Data Analysis
    Let the data speak to you!
    Keep rigor in mind!
  • #7: Rigor & Relevance
    Generalizability vs. transferability
    Relevance is key!
  • #8: The Write-Up
    In projects, lots of options
    In dissertations, more stringent requirements
    May have to fit into traditional framework
    Flexibility may be possible, connect to project
    Discuss with advisor/committee
  • #9: Procrastination
    Avoid it!
    The traps:
    Postponing data collection
    until literature complete
    Be cautious not to neglect
    literature, either!
    Postponing analysis until all
    data collected
    Postponing action until all
    data interpreted
    Postponing writing until all else complete
  • #10: Support Network
    Can meet with others in cohort or similar academic context
    Helps stave off loneliness and isolation
    Provides challenge and support
    Mediate teacher/student life
    Valuable for your learning!
  • For More Information…
    Bob Dick’s Action Research Resources website:
    Section on action research theses and dissertations: